There are a lot of tools that you could be using to run your summit and truth be told, it’s best to just go with your gut as you pick the tech tools that you’re going to use.
Let me navigate you through the 4 top tech categories that are the foundation of your next virtual summit:
Ready to take a look at each one of these in more detail?
1. Starting with Video
All summit sessions are going to be video, which means that having a solid video recording setup is paramount.
What is the basic tech you need to have in place?
- Sound: Be sure to have an external microphone and a pair of earbuds.
- Visuals: The camera on your computer is most likely sufficient, but if you would like top notch video, invest in an external HD webcam.
- Storage: Video uses a lot of disk space, which is why I recommend having sufficient space on your computer’s hard drive. Use both an external hard drive and cloud storage to supplement the space you have on your computer.
- Connectivity: And, nobody wants the video and audio to get out of sync, so a wired (not wifi) internet connection should be a requirement.
- Hosting: Your videos need to live online, this should be on a dedicated video host, not your personal website host.
- Software: And the last part of the video production is the software used to take the raw video and put it together. This is going to be a piece of software that lives on your computer.
For the speakers/guests:
Speaker equipment is often overlooked. They will also need good internet connectivity, an external microphone, ear buds and a decent web cam.
While it is your summit, as host part of your responsibility is to make your speakers shine!
2. Website Backbone
Your summit lives on a website.
While there are many options out there, I right now, I'm suggesting that the most flexible option is WordPress. It’s the platform that I use for all my clients, has an abundance of tutorials and how-to videos available for putting this together and helps you organize your summit content is a way that is manageable.
Making WordPress work for you
I’ve spent since 2010 working with WordPress, so I have a lot of thoughts about the right building blocks for all tech levels.
- Hosting: For WordPress to run effectively, you’re going to need a good quality host (cheaper does not mean better)
- Theme: Use a premium theme which either comes with or is easily integrated with a front-end page builder. There are several decent page builders available right now and you'll find the results to be similar
- Plugins: There are hundreds of thousands of plugins available, some are free and some are paid. Use only free plugins that are available in the WordPress.org repository. Premium plugins are purchased from other sites. Using premium (as in purchased) building blocks is great, because they will give you a place to go and ask questions/get support and advice.
Plugins will add functionality like email marketing integration, social sharing capabilities, countdown clocks, styling and more.
3. Email Collection
The #1 outcome of Virtual Summits is a massive list of raving fans Click To Tweet You may be running your summit for a number of different reasons but the #1 outcome of your summit is going to be the massive list names and email addresses of your summit attendees. These people are going to be raving about you, and you want to be able to communicate with them during your summit and long into the future.
So, which EMS (email marketing solution) should you use?
There are a fair number of good email marketing providers, and most will work for sending summit emails.
The differences between the providers comes from the way they organize and sort your subscribers as well as the way that they can send out emails.
If you have a current email marketing provider, stick with them (as long as you can do automation and segmenting) otherwise, grab the cheat sheet of to find out who my favorite email marketing provider is!
For your summit, you’re going to have at least 2 overlapping groups of people to email.
- The first group will be everyone who is interested in your free summit content,
- whereas the second group will be your All-Access Pass holders (or in other words, the people who give you money for long term access to the summit content.)
Summit specific tip:
Whatever solution you select, be sure that you’ll be able to send emails to people based on their “free” or “paid” status and that the overlap doesn’t get both types of emails (the last thing you want is to send people “buy buy buy” emails when they have already purchased!
4. And lest we forget making money with your summit
Taking payment, having affiliates and delivering extended access to purchasers cannot be an after-thought. Let's get this figured out right now.
The two largest online payment providers are Stripe and Paypal.
Use both PayPal and Stripe for Virtual Summit purchases. It will provide worldwide earning potential Click To TweetIt’s advantageous to use both, in order to appeal to people around the globe (Stripe isn’t accepted everywhere.)
Both processors can be used directly - but I highly recommend using a piece of software that sits between your site and the payment processor. This will create a more streamlined process for your clients and make you look top-notch.
These are either stand alone “cart-systems” or course-delivery systems with integrated payment processing.
Figuring out which way to go comes down to how you are going to work with your affiliates and how you are going to deliver extended access to purchasers.
A course delivery platform is the most straightforward and simplest approach to combining affiliates, payments and extended access because it is an all-in-one solution.
Depending on your summit goals, I’d be remiss to mention that some course or membership platforms that sit on top of WordPress might be the right solution for your content delivery. In this case, there are more pieces to integrate but you will have a higher level of customization and overall control over the purchase, delivery and payment elements.
What do affiliates have to do with making money?
An affiliate is someone who is offered a percentage of a sale as an incentive for them to promote your summit to their existing audience.
Speakers make great affiliates. They are lending their expertise to your event and this is a great way to "pay them." They will bring you a high quality, information seeking new audience. This audience already loves your speaker and is more willing to purchase something that has their stamp of approval.
While it may look like you're losing money with affiliates, you're not. If your affiliates bring you a paying client that you couldn't bring on your own, then it's a slam dunk on value. And the exposure you get from affiliates is worth every commission they earn (hello street cred!)
Delivering access to purchasers
As I mentioned before, there are two general options for delivery -- stand-alone course platforms or WordPress integrated membership or course plugins.
It is important to give your "All-Access Pass" a high-end exclusive feel. While many people who sell online courses and programs follow the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) methodology, this is not the time to prove your offer. This is the time to over-deliver... because your summit itself is all the proof that is needed.
If you already have a relationship with a course delivery platform, or if already have a membership site, use that for delivering your summit All-Access Pass. Otherwise, grab the cheat sheet below to find out who I recommend as your All-Access Pass portal.
When you have the right tools and a proper strategy...
You can run a successful Virtual Summit!
Are you ready to make your virtual summit dream a reality?
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