A virtual summit is a 3-way win:
- Your audience gets access to excellent content at no cost
- Your speakers get exposure to new audiences that they would otherwise not have had
- You (as the organizer) have the opportunity to build your authority through association with industry leaders while growing your audience.
Let’s focus on how your business can benefit from a well-run online summit.
Benefit #1: Generating New Leads
Somewhere along the line, you need to fill your pipeline with leads. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to have an irresistible offer for prospects.
A conference costs a company typically around $5,000 per attendee. Well, if you can offer them a free virtual summit with the same benefits as a traditional one, all in exchange for an email address, who could refuse that?
A virtual summit blows the traditional lead generation methods right out of the water!
Let’s look at writing a blog post for example.
It takes hours of research, hours of writing, and hours of editing. Once it’s finished the real work begins in promoting it. If you’ve done a great job, you’ll get a few social shares.
However, a virtual summit is a real event with built-in shareability.
People want to listen to industry experts and have access to ask them questions, and this platform provides the means to do that. That’s enough to get anyone excited and, hopefully, to get them sharing.
Imagine you have 30 speakers on your online summit. If you can get each of these to share your summit with their followers, you could quickly be reaching a few million prospects.
Because the summit has been promoted by someone that the follower is familiar with and trusts (they choose to follow them or have subscribed to their mailing list), your chance of having a high signup rate is good.
Finally, these are leads that are interested in your niche. If they’ve been following the industry experts, and signed up to their mailing lists or followed them on social media, you can be sure they’re interested in the niche. That means they have been pre-qualified. You can’t ask for a better lead than that!
So to summarize, you’re offering something that has great value for free and it’s being promoted to targeted followers (usually at no cost to you) by someone that these followers trust. This is the perfect recipe for generating a large list of targeted new leads.
Benefit #2: Increase Your Network
We’ve all read those business books whose mantra is “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” A virtual summit is a fantastic way to connect with industry leaders for future collaborations.
Because you have something to offer them (an opportunity to grow their influence by reaching new audiences as well as a way to enhance their authority), they are more likely to be open to having a conversation with you than they would otherwise.
As the organizer of the online summit, you will have the chance to build strong relationships with these industry leaders. This has the potential to open doors for future partnerships, affiliate arrangements, and other ongoing benefits after the summit is over.
Consider that these relationships are also an asset that can be maintained and leveraged many years into the future.
Benefit #3: Grow Your Revenue
At some point, you want to make a profit from your online summit.
As previously mentioned, a virtual summit is a fantastic way to boost your authority quickly, and reduce your sales cycle, which will significantly help your bottom line.
There are some other ways to monetize a virtual summit as well, and we would suggest testing them to see what combination works best.
Depending on the size of your online summit, you may easily be able to reach out to other companies, and offer them sponsorships.
For example, in your online conference, one of the speakers may advocate using a specific product. You could then reach out to the product providers, and ask them if they would like to sponsor an advert or video, bringing in additional revenue for you.
Another popular method is to use an affiliate network. It’s likely that the speakers will reveal various tools or products that they use.
You could reach out to these product creators, and negotiate an affiliate arrangement. They will provide you with a link, and when that link is used for purchases, you’ll earn on the sales.
What makes this powerful is that the industry leaders are telling people what tools to use, and you’re earning commission when the attendees decide to purchase them. When this happens, the conversion rate on these links is through the roof.
PRO TIP: To increase your sales using this method, you can ask affiliates for a limited coupon code that’s only available to summit attendees. This is a surefire way to give your affiliate commissions a nice boost.
If you’re running a ‘free’ summit, you may want to add some paid upgrades. You could provide access for a week for free, and then introduce a paywall.
Alternatively, you may want to introduce an All Access Pass as an upsell. You would need to split test the price point for this, and strike a balance between what’s free, and what’s locked behind a paywall.
Finally, since you know people on the summit are interested in a specific niche, you can use the opportunity to cross-sell or upsell to them. This could be a new product you’re offering or a particular service that they can access at a discounted rate for the duration of the summit.
Remember that the real value of an online summit doesn’t come from upfront direct revenue generated. It comes from building a targeted, and engaged email list of leads. That’s your true asset.
Benefit #4: Product Creation
If you’ve done your work in the right way, at the end of your virtual summit, you’ll have a high-quality product – an asset you can leverage again and again.
If someone could show you a way to invest $100, and get out $500 after 30 days, on repeat with a high probability of success, wouldn’t you be interested?
That’s what an online summit can do, except that you can scale it as much as you like.
An online summit also provides a fantastic way to develop, and test new products. If you’ve done your job well, you’ll have an engaged audience, and can easily sell other related products.
Benefit #5: Establish Yourself As An Authority
If you’re selling a product, one of the pillars of selling is to ensure that prospective customers trust you and your brand. For many new leads who haven’t heard about you before, it’s difficult to build up this trust, and it can take a long time.
There is so much noise and so many scams online that people are cautious, and it can take many months to warm up a lead before they’re ready to purchase.
We’ve found that one of the most significant benefits of a virtual summit is that it enables you to reduce the length of your sales cycle by quickly positioning yourself as an authority.
How does it work?
In any niche or industry, there are certain brands, and individuals who are considered industry leaders, and experts. The secret to short-cutting the time it takes to be seen as an authority is to be associated with these leaders.
You can quickly leverage your authority on the back of their reputations. If you’re able to get some A-list speakers at your summit, by implication, they’ve endorsed your brand.
So even if people don’t know you, by seeing familiar industry names at your summit, you’ll quickly increase your reputation, and decrease the length of your sales cycle.
This is one of the most significant benefits of running an online summit, being positioned as an equal alongside your industry’s influencers.
This article was originally written by Liam Austin and published on entrepreneursHQ.