Virtual Summits – the Authority Hacker’s Secret Weapon

It seems like everyone’s talking about virtual summits at the moment. And for good reason.

I’ve already been involved in two already this year, and I wasn’t even looking for speaking opportunities.

In this post, I’ll explain what they are, consider who should be using them, and how you could take advantage of them.

The first thing I want you to think about is this…

If something’s hot right now, then right now is the time to get involved!

I don’t know about you, but I could probably list fifty technologies that I should have gotten involved with, and written about, over the past couple of decades, from domain trading to AdWords.

Here’s the thing. If you wait for something to become established, to minimize your risk, you’re almost certainly too late.

If this is the first time you’ve heard about virtual summits, or if you only heard about them recently, great! That’s a sign that right now is the time to get on board.

What Is a Virtual Summit?

Simply, a virtual summit has three characteristics:

  1. It’s an event (which means it happens at a particular point in time).
  2. It has content that’s delivered digitally.
  3. And the content comes from more than one expert.

Beyond that, there is a lot of scope…

  • They can be run live, or pre-recorded.
  • Material could be presented in video or audio formats.
  • There may also be opportunity for interaction, usually using webinar technology.
  • Most virtual summits are free to attend, while some are premium.

Technologically, they’re pretty straightforward. We’re really talking about restricting access to content.

If you’re doing a pre-recorded summit, you could do what I’ve done recently (for my new book) and interview a bunch of experts over Skype, simply record the audio, and save out to MP3 files, then make the content available on a private web page or member’s area for the duration of the “event”.

Live summits are much riskier, as I discovered when time came for me and Shane Melaugh to start our hour’s presentation (“When CRO Goes Wrong“) as part of CRO Day a couple of months ago, and Shane was simply unable to get on the webinar! But again the tech isn’t too complex. For CRO Day, the organizers simply gave each of the presenters a time slot, and we were responsible for setting up our own webinars.

If you’re doing a paid, recorded virtual summit, you could use any of the members’ area plugins on the market, and make content available using a drip-feed (something I just discovered you can do easily with Zaxaa, my latest favourite e-com/membership platform).

Bottom line… it isn’t very difficult, and there’s very little cost involved.

Why Do They Work?

This is where things get really juicy!

I describe virtual summits as “authority hacking” because they’re probably the best way I’ve ever come across of boosting your authority in a niche.

I’ll walk you through roughly how you do it, and why it’s such a beautiful model…

  1. Identify movers, shakers, and thought leaders in your space.
  2. Create an event. Events are powerful, because they’re at a specific point in time. That means there’s a lead-up, the event itself, and then it’s gone. Can you see how that’s instantly more special than an evergreen webinar recording on YouTube?
  3. Tip: Think seriously about your title. Make it bold, timely, and ambitious. Ask yourself, “What event will people be excited about attending in the run-up, and proud to say they attended afterwards?”
  4. Approach your target presenters. Start with the ones you have the best relationships with, because if they’re on board it will make it more attractive to others you don’t know as well. Everyone loves to be given kudos, so don’t be afraid to praise your prospective presenters. If you can say that another known name recommended them, even better.
  5. Ask your presenters to put the message out to their audience. After all, they’ve been invited to be part of an event that sounds exciting and prestigious!
  6. Provide all the marketing materials your presenters may need. Get them to point their followers to your registration page. (That way, you build your list from the lists of your presenters. That’s why virtual summits are one of the very best and most cost-effective list-building channels around today.)
  7. Run the event, whether live or asynchronous. Let your experts share their best knowledge. Just shutting up and listening is a very useful skill 🙂
  8. Follow up with communications to everyone concerned that emphasizes what a great event it was, and let people know how they can get recordings. (Some virtual events let you purchase the full set of recordings afterwards, which can work very well.)

See how it works so well? I love stuff like this where everyone wins.

The great thing is, this is how you can almost instantly raise your profile in a target niche — without a long track-record, great connections, or investment!

Bottom line. If it would benefit you strategically to raise your profile in a niche, give careful thought to what event would attract the best speakers and audience.

Learn From the Expert

For more insight, listen to my recent interview with Wendy Kier, who’s the UK’s #1 expert on virtual summits (see, a niche!!)

MP3 file (13MB, 36 minutes)

How Can I Get More Involved?

If you would like help to unleash the power of virtual summits for your own business, Wendy is about to run a new course called “The Influential Virtual Summit Mastery” for the very first time, and she’s offering discounted places in return for testimonials.

(Note: This is an affiliate link, and I will get some compensation if you proceed to purchase the course.)

Note: At the time of writing (June 18th, 2015) there are only 8 places left on this first course. If you’ve listened to the interview, and think this may be right for you, I encourage you to have a look.

virtual-summit-mastery

About the author

Ben Hunt

Ben has over 20 years' experience in web design and marketing, and is one of the most influential figures on the subject of effective web design. He has written a bunch of books and spoken at multiple conferences internationally. In 2015, Ben created Open-Source Marketing, which promises to turn the practice of marketing upside down.. Find out more at http://opensourcemarketingproject.org

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