While you may want to have Sir Richard Branson or Michelle Obama speaking as your virtual summit speakers, you need to check that they align with the purpose, and goals of your event. Will these ‘dream’ speakers like Branson and Obama attract the right type of audience for your niche?
We like to break down our virtual summit speakers into three broad categories.
Category 1: Dream Speakers List
These are the A-list speakers of your niche. The best of the best. The ones with the most extensive authority, and brand recognition.
Remember these are often extremely busy people with a jam-packed diary and various speaking engagements. You’re often asking them for 30 minutes of their time for free. To ensure you have a chance of getting these types of speakers on board you’re going to either need:
- a warm introduction
- an incredible value proposition for them
- a creative idea to capture their attention
Ask yourself “what’s in it for them to give you 30 minutes of their time for an interview”?
There’s no point in spending your time reaching out to dream speakers if you don’t have an appealing value proposition for them.
Remember that the bigger the speaker, the more lead time they will need.
PRO TIP: These in-demand speakers all have gatekeepers so make sure you have a plan for these as well.
Category 2: The A-List
These are people at the top of their game that you feel you have a realistic chance of landing. They’re seen as industry experts, have a large following, and are passionate about the topic of your summit.
Category 3: Sure Wins
These are the ones you can rely on to say ‘yes’ to speaking at your summit. Normally these are people you’ve worked within the past, or you have a strong connection to. These speakers are the ones who are more likely to be enthusiastic about your value proposition.
How do you know which influencers are a good fit?
Here’s a checklist I like to use:
- Firstly, look at the type of people they are attracting. Is their audience a good fit for the topic of your summit?
- Secondly, how large is their audience? It’s not all about the largest audience, but you do want them to have some reach.
- Thirdly, how engaged are they? Do they comment on articles? Does the influencer generate a discussion on Twitter?
- Fourthly, do they have similar values to you?
A quick win for maximum reach is to partner up with people, and brands in your niche that are not direct competitors.
Setting up a virtual summit is a lot of work. By partnering with other brands, you can leverage their sales & online distribution network for added reach.
To find a list of potential partners, start by putting together a list of all your suppliers & tools. These are the people that will benefit from you running a successful online summit.
When trying to identify potential partners, ask yourself, which brands and companies will earn money if we organize a successful virtual summit?
This will give you a good starting list to expand from.
PRO TIP: Find a partner that is the lowest hanging fruit, and land them first. It will be a big psychological win and will make it much easier to convince other partners when you start the promotion.
You can tell any future partners that company X has already booked and that they should also join.
At this point, you should have four lists.
- Dream List
- Sure Wins
- Partner List
Depending on the goals that you set, you’ll need to work out how many of these virtual summit speakers you’ll need to land to stand a chance of achieving your goals.
Part 1: Landing a Brand Headliner & Potential Partner
When planning your outreach, you’ll want to achieve two things quickly.
Firstly, land a dream list speaker or brand headliner – somebody who you can use to leverage their brand to get other speakers to agree.
For example when you do your outreach, and you can say, “Hey, Michelle Obama is one of our virtual summit speakers, and I’d love you also to join” it will get far more positive responses than a cold email that goes along the lines of “Hey, can you give me 30 minutes of your time to speak at an online summit.”
This is why it’s vital you get a brand headliner as soon as possible.
Secondly, you’ll want to land a partnership with a strong brand that can bring a big audience, as well as brand recognition. Your cold outreach email could now go from “Hey, Michelle Obama is speaking at this virtual summit, to “Hey, Michelle Obama is one of our virtual summit speakers, and our main brand partner Google, would love you too as well…”, will get a significantly higher response rate.
Part 2: Leveraging Existing Networks
Identify any people in your network that are connected with possible speakers or potential partners. A warm introduction is far more effective than a cold connection.
These quick wins can make all the difference between success, and failure.
What you want to do is identify those individuals you know who might help you out. Do your research, and see who they are connected with that you would like to speak at your summit.
Then send them an email with a pre-written template they could use.
Something along the lines of:
“Hey, could you help me out with a quick email to the people on this list, to see if we can get them interested in a 30-minute interview.
I’ve written a quick pitch for you to use below:
This is a tried, and tested technique we’ve used to get all of our virtual summits moving forward.
PRO TIP: If you need to, you can incentivize them for additional results.
Part 3: Cold Outreach
Ideally, you should have started building authentic relationships before you need them, but at some point, you’re going to need to connect with people you don’t know. You’re effectively reaching out to them out of the blue, so you’ll want to be extremely cautious.
Another tactic is to phone or email the company and ask for the relevant person’s email address.
Before you send any emails, make sure you check that their email address is the correct one. You can use the Hunter email verifier to do that. If you’re sending emails to old addresses that bounce, Google and other mail providers might lower the reputation of your domain, resulting in more of your emails going into spam folders.
Once you’re sure you’ve got their correct email address, you’re going to need to construct your email carefully. We recommend keeping it short, to the point, and clearly define the value proposition.
Your cold email should answer “What’s in it for them?” within 5 seconds of them reading it.
What works well is to make sure that you’ve personalized the email with a compliment. Maybe you’ve read their book or read a blog post they’ve written. Reference it, and offer a compliment.
Influencers receive a lot of cold offers, and you need to do something to stand out from the crowd.
Another good tactic is to think where you can add value to them before reaching out. Maybe leave a comment on their blog. Share a tweet or social media post of theirs, and tag them.
PRO TIP: If you want to impress and get a response we’d suggest sending a customized video using Dubb.
Remember that many people don’t respond to emails the first time around. The secret to success here is sending a follow-up email every 3 to 5 days until you get a response.
A fantastic tool to automate this in Mailshake. What it does is schedule emails to be sent, and if a response is received, it stops sending them.
When you’re reaching out to virtual summit speakers, avoid asking them to promote your summit upfront, and introduce the idea later. You want to build a relationship with them that can benefit you both long into the future.
So when introducing the idea of promoting the summit, get creative, and always ask yourself what’s in it for them to make sure it’s a win-win. Be prepared that some might require an exchange or payment to promote your summit to their following.
This article was originally written by Liam Austin and published on entrepreneursHQ.