Using a Virtual Summit to Grow Your Authority Fast
“This is marketing for your book, for your expertise, for the niche you’re in. And it doesn’t feel sleazy. It actually feels like value because you’re giving value to speakers, giving value to your potential readers, you’re creating authority. It’s a great way to start marketing.” – Azul Terronez
When you start a blog or podcast, or publish a book, figuring out how to reach your ideal audience can be overwhelming. We want to build authority and draw the right people to our idea or movement, but we don’t want to feel like sleazy salespeople in the process.
This is where a virtual summit comes in.
Not only is it a great marketing tool, but your audience members benefit from listening to speakers, who also get a boost in visibility, and you will attract people who are excited about your area of expertise.
It’s a win-win-win, explains Jan Koch, author of “The Virtual Summit Mastery Method,” who joins me on this week’s episode of “Authors Who Lead” to discuss how writers can use virtual summits to grow their audiences.
What is a Virtual Summit and How Do I Create a Successful One?
A virtual summit is similar to an in-person conference, just taken to the online world. There are keynote speakers, presentations by thought leaders and experts, panels and sessions, and the summit is usually condensed into a few days — complete with an all-access pass that allows audience members to revisit materials later.
How you set your summit apart from others will determine its success. Aim to not only provide value for your guests, but also make them feel good about attending. One way to accomplish this is by offering freebies, which will build up goodwill in the community. Then, give them access to experts and thought leaders who will enhance their lives and solve a pain point.
Another way to make sure your summit is successful is by providing content on a topic that your audience needs and wants. When I was developing my Authors Who Lead Summit, I thought about my focus and niched down the topic so that it was relevant and useful. We don’t want our subject to be so broad that it doesn’t appeal to anyone — or, as Jan says, “Niche down until it hurts. We are not everybody. We want to be specifically spoken to.”
To know who will benefit most from your topic, you’ll need to understand who they are. Ask yourself, “What is keeping them up at night?” or “What do they secretly wish were true in their work and personal lives?” The answers to these questions will tell you who needs the information you’re giving.
Will Virtual Summits Stick Around?
Now that the conference world is opening back up and returning to in-person gatherings, I asked Jan for his thoughts on the future of virtual summits.
He imagines that virtual summits will stick around and remain an integral part of reaching an audience. Blogs, podcasting, SEO and YouTube take time to gain traction, but with a virtual summit, you can gather a large audience and give them so much value that they will want to share.
How Virtual Summits Benefit Book Launches
A virtual summit can be infinitely beneficial as you release your book. Be creative when you are marketing and don’t talk yourself out of opportunities out of fear.
First, you can immediately start building an email list by gathering them from summit attendees, or even prospective audience members. In exchange, they will get notifications and updates about the upcoming summit.
Also, the speakers you bring to your summit can help set you up as an authority or expert by exposing their own audiences to you. During the summit, record the sessions to share as highlight reels, and don’t forget to tag the speakers on social media. Give them swipe copy to share, too.
Seek out sponsors for your summit to draw in even more attention (and money). Make sure they are in your niche and that their audience overlaps with yours. After all, this collaboration benefits both of you.
My Book Is Coming Out In Six Months – Now What?
The first step toward organizing your summit around your book is to niche down. You don’t want your topic to be too general, and you don’t want it to be the name of your book, either.
With those pieces in place, turn your attention toward speakers. The best way to find them is to research experts in your field, whether on social media, online magazines or professional communities. Build genuine relationships with them by supporting them on social media, buying their products, volunteering as a case study, or leaving reviews or testimonials. They will be more likely to recognize you when you invite them to speak at your summit.
When you reach out, be clear and concise. Give them specific dates and any information they will need in order to prepare. This is what I call “leading with value.” They will know that you’re genuine and committed. There is a ripple effect in these kinds of relationships, so be sure to concentrate on giving value to your audience and the experts attending your summit.
Avoiding Virtual Summit Pitfalls
Zoom fatigue is real — but luckily, for most virtual summits, they are audio only. There may be a live chat feature available, but you don’t appear on camera, making it easier to tune in and out.
Because virtual summits can be experienced in the background of life, the engagement of live visitors may be low. Organizers will need to get creative to keep the audience’s attention and to create an urgency to watch.
Jan suggested gamifying the event with giveaways or games, such as Bingo. With my Authors Who Lead Summit, I would cluster the topics and speakers differently next time, so it’s easier for attendees to search for subjects that interest them at the moment.
Tackling the Challenges
While Jan has countless experience organizing virtual summits, the biggest challenge he faced while writing his book was choosing what to put in it. He wanted to add as much information as possible, to give value to his readers, but not overwhelm them.
As you think about building an audience for your book, remember these greatest takeaways from my conversation with Jan:
- Building authority comes from serving others first.
- Value is brought to people and given to them for free, like organizing a summit.
- Creating content that is shareable is a great way to market your book. A summit naturally uses the leverage of other people’s audiences while giving them value.
What was your biggest takeaway from the episode? Are you using your book to grow your authority? Have you thought about holding a virtual summit around your niche? Share in the comments below!
That’s all for this week. Take that next step toward building your brand and authority today!
Virtual Summit Mastery on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLb3gUsc3U5us6IkCjfByxw