Welcome to September – one of the big Video and Tele-summit seasons of the year. January/February and September/October are the two most popular times of year to do Summits, often by intentional strategic design. January/February is a great time because it’s the beginning of the year. September/October is the short window between two major “excuse times” (the Summer and The Holiday Season).
Many of my clients love the Summit format, particularly when they find a great Summit theme and a facilitator with whom they connect. You may have found me for the first time through one of the Summits I hosted and facilitated, or on one of the Summits that had me as a guest speaker. It is one of my favorite ways to share my expertise and find new emerging entrepreneurs that enjoy my business approach and tools.
But many of my clients don’t understand the business strategy behind Summits and why they are a powerful business tools to build relationships with potential clients and other professionals. Here are 8 huge reasons why great Summits work.
1) You bring speakers together who are aligned with you philosophically, who all serve the same Ideal Client and they promote the event for you. When you pick a central theme and you are clear about who you want to attract to the Summit, it is much easier to attract speakers who have larger followings. Most tele-summit training programs will encourage you to invite Speakers with 5,000 or more people on their lists. I feel that engagement level is far more important than list size. Engagement level is the actual number of people who read the emails you send out. So, for example, if someone has a list of 20,000 people but has an average open rate of 10%, they are actually only engaging 2,000 people every time they communicate with their list. If someone has a list of 4,000 and has an open rate of 46%, they are engaging 1840 people every time they communicate. Frankly, I would rather partner with the person with such a high engagement level, even though their audience is slightly smaller. That level of engagement means that they really make a concerted effort to send out quality information that people pay attention to. They are also more likely to support your promotions in a more customized, meaningful way. In turn, you are more likely to get more sign ups from those speakers to attend your summit.
2) You get showcased as an expert by interviewing brilliant, interesting people in your field. Even if you have a small list yourself and haven’t been in your field that long, you get to showcase your own brilliance through your interviewing skills and interaction with your speakers during each interview. Plus you can also be a featured speaker yourself and be able to show off your core expertise, as well. It is a great way to build credibility and “relate-ability,” which are the two main reasons people choose to work with you or buy your programs.
3) You will attract 1,000-6,000 people to your Summit with the right speakers and promotional strategy. Although not all of them will remain engaged followers and often 20-30% unsubscribe from your list right away, there are very few ways to build an email list this quickly without investing a lot of money. It is important to engage your speakers and make the promotion of your event really easy by provide sample “swipe” copy for solo emails, e-zines and Social Media. As a coach, having a list of several thousand people who think you have a lot of wisdom to share, means building a full practice of clients with relative ease.
4) You will build bonds with other speakers who want to collaborate with you. With my first Summit, I met 5 speakers – Leela Somaya, Erika Watson, Ursula Pottinga, Ann Betz, and Cory Michelle – who have been strong Strategic Alliances of mine ever since, not to mention really good friends. I also strengthened relationships with most of my other speakers and even got to meet many other Strategic Alliances through the various speakers on my Summit through their introductions.
5) You will be asked to speak on other Summits. I have now spoken on over 25 different Summits over the last 3 years and many of those opportunities came from people who attended one of my Summits. Many other opportunities came through relationships I built with other speakers and them recommending me to other Summit organizers. Every time I speak on another Summit, I gain on average 50-150 new followers plus strengthen my personal brand.
6) You can cover all your costs and even make some money! This is an important thing to share about Summits. A lot of people I know don’t actually make money off their first Summit, at least initially. Expenses can be high (my first Summit was about $4,000 and that didn’t include my time. Since I did all the marketing and copywriting myself, that was substantial). Much of the expense is in design, website, administrative support and technical tools required. It can exceed that depending on the type of training and tools you use. However, if you have a really sweet upgrade package with several bonuses at a reasonable price, you can cover all your costs and even make some money for you and your speakers. Plus, you now have a list that wants to engage with you, which is where you really can begin to reap a return on your investment.
7) It is a great platform to launch a tele-class or group program. Your list will never be more engaged with you then the few months that follow a Summit. It a great way to gear up for a launch of a product launch, tele-class or group coaching program. Launching a program on the heels of a Summit make it much easier to fill a program. After I did my first Summit, I did my first group program with 30 people and got 10 1:1 clients – of which four are still working with me years later.
8) It is so much fun. One of the reasons I keep doing Summits is because they are just so much fun to do. Talking with my wise colleagues about subjects we are both passionate about is just a ton of fun. After a particularly juicy interview with one of my mentors, Karen Kimsey-House, I remember thinking I was the luckiest person in the world. How many people get to say that about their jobs? And the truth is, when you and your speakers are having fun, that really engages your audience. Your passion and joy will shine through, which is absolutely enrolling.
One thing I know for sure is that you should not try to do a Summit without some really great support. Take a Telesummit Training Class (I recommend Sage Lavine’s). Hire a coach & mentor like me who can walk you through all the steps of putting a Summit together (there are dozens) as well as help through the ups & downs that come with actualizing a big vision. Hire a Virtual Assistant who has done Summits for other people and can help direct you as well as be directed. Talk to other people who have put on Summits and ask them what their biggest challenges were and what they wish they had known going into it. When you get support, doing a Summit no longer feels like an overwhelming and daunting possibility–it becomes tangible, real, and executable. If you have a dream of doing a Summit, get the support you need to make your dream a reality!