Episode 18 – Fitting A Virtual Summit Into Your Marketing Plan

Tools & Resources mentioned during the episode:

As the new year 2022 approaches, you should be planning your campaigns for the next year. If you haven’t started already, this should be one of the priorities, and a virtual summit can fit into that if you want to expand your audience. So in this episode, we’ll dive deeper into how a virtual summit ties in with all the marketing you are doing already.

And why it is a good fit for most of the marketing plans that I’ve seen so far. So let’s dive right into this conversation. First of all, when you’re planning for a new year, or let’s say you’re planning for the next quarter of the year, a virtual summit can fill out that entire time.

It takes at least three months of preparation time before you’re running a virtual event. Even if you were to hire the team and me to organize it for you. If you organize the Summit yourself as a single-person army, that works for sure. You can run a summit just as a freelancer or single-person show; running a virtual event is possible.

But consider planning four to six months for your first event. And I don’t say this lightly. I’m not trying to discourage you. But it just takes time. Because you have a ton of different things that you have to manage. You have a ton of strings that pull together for a virtual event.

So when you’re running it by yourself, even if you are enrolled in Virtual Summit Mastery or a course like that, four to six months is a very conservative, excellent timeframe. You can do it quicker, of course. I’ve seen virtual summit students run summits within two months, and they’ve crushed it.

But they had extensive experience in digital marketing. If you are starting from zero, a virtual summit is a great way to build your brand. You can do it in 90 days. That’s what we teach in Virtual Summit Mastery. But depending on your experience, you might want to give yourself more time to do things right the first time.

Why You Shouldn’t Rush your Virtual Event

Do not rush the virtual event. This is very, very important. Please do not rush into it. Please do not skip any lessons that we have in VSM. Do not skip the planning phase for a virtual event. Because the planning part is the foundation for everything. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, as the saying goes. And this is so true, especially for virtual events.

Because you have to know the target audience, you have to know the speakers that you want to have based on their target audience. You need to know the topics, and the pain points the event needs to cover. You need to know the angles for the copywriting or what type of messaging to put out there to get attendees to sign up for your virtual event.

And then, you need to orchestrate the entire launch and the promotion. It is definitely a great way to build your brand to grow your email list exponentially. I see people 4x 6x their email list all the time with virtual events. But it would be best if you gave yourself time to do it right. Just as with an SEO campaign.

You cannot expect to just write 5000 pieces of content over the next two weeks and then miraculously see results and see your website jumping to number one. Search engine optimization takes time. Influencer marketing takes time unless you have a ton of money to throw at influencers to pay for them.

If you need to build those relationships, that takes time. Any content marketing strategy really that relies on organic traffic that is sustainable for the long run takes time. Even if you were to run paid traffic campaigns, which is part of a launch strategy for a virtual summit, most of the time, even fine-tuning those campaigns takes time.

So don’t rush into your virtual event. You can start promoting it before it is ready. So that is a good thing to know. When you’re planning for the next quarter or the next year, and you want to run a virtual summit, let’s say in the next three months, you can start it two months out to promote the event.

That’s totally fine because you can put up a registration page that outlines the event, and then you fill-up the information as the planning goes. Totally what I do all the time. So you don’t have to know all the speakers. You don’t have to know all the sponsors. Before you can start already promoting the event.

You just build that email list as soon as possible. And then, as the planning progresses, as you get to sign speakers, as you get to sign sponsors, you just update the page and keep all the people who have signed up notified. And that is a good thing because that makes them feel more engaged in your virtual event. They are seeing you put together that event.

You can also use that angle to promote the event on social, share your progress in planning that event. And in organizing that event. If you run through the Virtual Summit Mastery course or hire me, you can do the same thing. Share what we are working on, what you are working on with your audience to get this hype going, get word of mouth going, and get people started to talk about the virtual event.

This is a very, very important point. When you plan, give yourself three months at least to execute a Virtual Summit. But know that you can start within a month. You can start getting word of mouth going for your virtual Summit. If you’re determined to do one. Then as soon as you get that word of mouth going, at that point, you need to have an understanding of the challenge that your ideal attendee is facing.

The Question You Should Never Skip Asking

What is it that they are struggling with? What is keeping them awake at night? And how does your Summit fix that? That is an important question to ask, and do not skip asking that question. If there’s one thing you take out of this entire episode, don’t skip asking that question.

Then you need to consider around two to three months in the planning process for getting sponsors on board. It can run, of course, parallel to while you’re working on the website, while you’re signing speakers, doing the sessions, and so on. And this is something I talked more about in episode 17 of the VSM podcast at VSMpodcast.com/17.

Why Having Sponsors is Crucial

You can download the episode, or you can listen to it online. Go through the show notes and learn more about selling sponsorship packages, approaching the right types of companies, and so on. The point with sponsors is, it’s a crucial one.

You front-load income, which is always helpful. But the bigger the companies you want to work with, the more time they need to make decisions. That’s just the nature of the thing. You talk to somebody in the marketing department, maybe or in the business development department. They have a manager to report to who needs to sign off on that transaction.

That manager has a different budget or has another manager to report who needs to sign off on their budget. So just take some time internally for them to process that decision. That is why I recommend always accounting for at least two months for signing sponsors.

That’s a vital thing to know if you haven’t run a summit before that. In under two months, you’ll have a lot of trouble finding the right sponsors for your event, from my personal experience.

A Virtual Summit Gives You Enough Content for the Entire Year

Then, what you should know about a virtual summit when you’re planning a year’s worth of marketing is that (might sound insane) after that Summit, you have the entire content for the year. Because you are creating so much content.

When running a virtual Summit, you are recording tons of videos and hours of video content that can be repurposed into emails, podcasts, e-books, physical books, blog posts, and social media updates. So essentially, with a virtual summit, you do the work once, you create a ton of content that you can repurpose throughout the entire year.

Essentially, you’re set for at least six months with the virtual Summit. And then the best thing of all is, you can turn the summit evergreen so that you can promote the Summit throughout the entire year. It’s not a one-time thing. That is a common misconception I hear all the time.

You can run summits for an entire year, or you can relaunch a summit every quarter, every six months. Whatever schedule works best for you and your audience. So a summit is not a one-time thing. And if you start a year with a virtual summit, let’s say you started with a summit in February or March, you have the next three-quarters time to leverage the content, leverage the relationships that you’ve built with a summit.

It’s another crucial thing to know because of all the interviews that you are doing. You are interviewing tons of speakers throughout the event. Your session ABCDE. And what do you do with those speakers? Of course, you keep in touch with them.

Of course, you invite them back, co-host webinars together, contribute to their blog, get them on your podcast, or you join their podcast. If you don’t have a podcast, maybe start one after the Summit because you now have an audience. You have experience in doing interviews and being on camera and recording yourself and all that good stuff.

So whatever you want to do, essentially, you now have the audience to do it after running a virtual summit.

It Allows You to Tap into the Wide Audience of Your Speakers and Sponsors

And with those speakers and sponsors, this is one of the most important benefits of running a summit. You can tap into their audience repeatedly if you build a good relationship during the Summit.

Don’t Lose Touch of your Speakers and Audience Once the Summit Ends

If you click, if you have a good vibe during the session that you’re recording, if you get along well, don’t lose touch after the Summit ends. You want to thank the people that ran on to your Summit as a speaker and sponsor. For being a part of the event. Maybe send them a gift or pay them for the fee if you have the budget for that. And then keep in touch.

Ask how you can add more value to their audiences. Maybe they want to interview you. Maybe you want to interview them, bring them back for another training webinar for your new summit audience. Just don’t lose track. And then every content every piece of content you create with the speakers again goes to repurposing goes into your full repurposing process.

If you don’t have one already, you should set one up, think about what types of platforms your audience hangs out with, what types of content they like to consume, and then just go with it. That is the biggest point of a virtual Summit. It’s a one-time thing while it’s live, but you can leverage it, at least for one year.

That is why I recommend it for most marketing plans, who have the manpower or the budget, to run a virtual summit. If you are just a one-person person, a one-person show, you can join a course like Virtual Summit Mastery at an affordable price to learn how to do that.

Download the free cheat sheet, virtualsummitmastery.com/cheatsheet, to learn the process and then get familiar with the course, what’s included, and so on. Or, if you have the budget, hire an agency like ours who can do a virtual summit for you.

And then you are set with your marketing. It’s one thing I hear over and over again. Is a summit worth doing because it’s a one-time event? No, it’s not. It’s not a one-time event. It’s an event that works for you, at least for a year if you do it properly. And that is how you would fit it into your marketing plan.

Give yourself a quarter to run the event, three months to run the event. And then be aware of all the contents you are about to create, all the video contents, and plan how you want to repurpose them. That is how you integrate a summit into your funnel into your current marketing plan.

And this is how you make the most out of this. If you want to learn more about this, go to virtualsummitmastery.com. To learn more about what we do with virtual summits, check out the podcast at VSMpodcast.com. And you can find the show notes for this at VSMpodcast.com/18. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll catch you in the next episode.

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