How to Plan Your First Telesummit


telesummit, joint ventures, VA, outsourcing, virtual assistant, interview speakers
Telesummits are a great way to grow your audience quickly. A telesummit is a series of interview-style audio or video recordings designed to teach your ideal audience on a variety of subjects. Telesummits are typically free to listen to (at least for a limited time) and can add hundreds or even thousands of subscribers to your email list in a very short time.

Unlike other list building opportunities, telesummits also provide a built-in product (the recordings) that you can quickly release for an influx of cash. Not only that, but by “borrowing” the audiences of your guests, you’ll massively expand your market reach across many other related niches.

Telesummits are also an opportunity for you to get to know the influencers in your niche and to position yourself as the expert you are. Since telesummit invitations are often reciprocal, it’s not unusual for those you invite to your telesummit to later invite you to participate in theirs. In this way, you and your brand can quickly become known.

Of course, hosting a telesummit is not a small undertaking. There is much planning that goes into a smoothly running telesummit and it all starts with choosing a theme.

STEP 1: YOUR TELESUMMIT THEME

The first step in hosting an epic and profitable telesummit is to determine your theme. This is the glue that will hold the entire event together. Your theme will link seemingly unrelated topics and speakers together in a way that will resonate with your unique audience, and make them anxious to hear the next speaker, and the next, and the next.
It’s also what will entice even your competitors to join you on your virtual stage.

Your theme begins with your niche and your idea client. For example, a business coach who helps new entrepreneurs overcome their roadblocks might host a telesummit focused on mindset. You would invite mindset experts (obviously) as well as health coaches (work at home types often don’t get enough exercise), money coaches (financial stress is no good for mindset), and confidence coaches. All would fall within your theme without too much overlap, and all would provide valuable information to your registrants.

Not only that, but all will bring with them an audience for whom your message may resonate as well, giving you plenty of opportunity to profit from the event both directly and indirectly through future sales.

Theme ideas are abundant in any niche, and if you listen closely to your audience, they’ll tell you exactly what they need to hear by way of:

  • Their social media posts—especially if you have a Facebook group
  • Questions from your private coaching clients
  • Help desk questions
  • The books they read (check the bestsellers in your niche)
  • Magazine headlines
  • Your competitors’ blogs and products
  • Your most popular blog content
  • Keyword research

STEP 2: YOUR TELESUMMIT STYLE & FORMAT

Telesummits come in many shapes and sizes. You might host four interviews each day for a week (or even two), or limit it to 10 interviews total. You might choose to use audio only or include video, too. You may want to host every interview live (although that can be risky), or to prerecord the calls and simply release them on a schedule.

The choices are ultimately yours, but you should also take into consideration:

  • Your audience and their preferred content style
  • Your guests and their level of comfort with audio/video/technology
  • Your own comfort level with the necessary technology for recording
  • Your team’s availability

Each choice you make here brings its own pros and cons.

Since this will be your very first telesummit, it’s a good idea to stick with a simpler plan. So consider what you’re truly comfortable with, what your team has experience with, what your audience needs and wants from you and  then plan accordingly.

There is one other consideration before you send out the invitations: will you be “selling” on the telesummit. In other words, will you allow your speakers to upsell their own coaching or self-study programs while on the calls, or will you instead ask that they offer a free gift (in exchange for opt-ins).

Offering a “pitch free,” information only event will have a bigger draw for your potential attendees. They’ll know that they’ll receive good solid advice and strategies, rather than simply hearing half the facts and having to buy the upsell to get the whole story.

On the other hand, your potential speakers have much more to gain if you allow them to pitch on the call. Again, there are pros and cons with both approaches.

STEP 3: CHOOSING GUESTS

Who you choose to speak at your telesummit will make or break your event. First and foremost, your speakers must bring value to your ideal audience member. Beyond that, though, you also must expect them to bring a part of their audience along for the ride.

This doesn’t mean you should approach choosing your speakers solely on the size of their mailing list (although that is a requirement of some telesummit hosts). Instead, look for speakers who:

  • Are authentic and will resonate with your ideal clients
  • Can and will promote your event as if it were their own
  • Will be excited to appear in front of your audience

In addition, you’ll want to find speakers who provide a complement to your own training, rather than directly compete with it. For example, if you’re a health coach for 40-something women who are overweight, you probably won’t invite another health coach for overweight middle-aged women. However, you could (and even should) invite a dietician, a body image coach, a mindset expert, a personal trainer and a goal setting expert.

All of these people (and many more) will be a great fit for your audience, and will likely reach a similar market. In short, you will all benefit from one another, as will your attendees.

Your guest list will also largely depend on the answers you chose in Step 3, since some potential guests won’t be comfortable on camera (if that’s your style choice) or won’t consider a live event.

Finding potential speakers begins by identifying 3 distinct groups:

  • People you know personally
  • People you have a connection to
  • Your “dream speakers”

The first two lists are rather self-explanatory. The third is what you might call the “influencers” in your market.

These are the people who come to mind whenever you think if your industry. For example, when you think “business coach” you likely immediately think of Carrie Wilkerson, Marie Forleo, or Ali Brown. They would definitely be on your “dream speakers” list.

Ideally, you’ll want to brainstorm a list that numbers several more speakers than you actually need to fill out your event. Some people will not be available, or will decline for other reasons (don’t take it personally) so be sure you invite enough speakers to fill all the spots you’re planning.

STEP 4: GUEST OUTREACH & SCHEDULING

Now that you have your potential speakers list, it’s time to do some outreach. Your guests will need to know:

  • Your telesummit theme and why you chose them to speak
  • When and how you’ll be promoting your event
  • The dates of your event
  • Any other speakers you’ve received commitments from
  • The event format
  • Whether or not promotions will be allowed/encouraged
  • What types of promotions they must commit to (number of solo emails, newsletter blurbs, social posts, etc.)

And most importantly, they’ll want to know what’s in it for them. Can they expect to receive sales? Grow their list? Reach a new audience?

When you’re relatively unknown, it’s important to put some thought into how and when you’ll approach your potential guests. While it will be easy to get “yes” answers from your friends and those you’ve personally worked with or met, attracting the attention of those you don’t know is more difficult.

Here’s where a bit of social proof — in the form of speakers who have already committed to your event — can help.

For example, if you can get a solid yes from an influencer in your market, be sure to mention that in the invitation emails you send out to those you know peripherally. Sharing the virtual stage with an industry leader can sometimes be enough incentive for those on the fence to agree to join you.
As you begin to receive commitments from your speakers, you can start to fill in your event schedule.

NOTE: Sometimes life gets in the way. Speakers who previously agreed to an interview may cancel at the last minute. To avoid having a hole in your schedule, smart telesummit hosts record a “filler” interview or training (sometimes featuring the host herself) to have on hand just in case of emergency.

STEP 5: GUEST PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL (SWIPE FILES)

Because you’re asking for your speakers’ time and expertise, it’s up to you to make it as easy as possible for them to participate and promote. That means creating swipe files for them to use. Swipe files can include:

  • Solo emails: These are complete emails about a single subject (your event). Speakers are typically asked to mail at least one solo email, and perhaps as many as two. Ideally, you’ll want your speakers to send one solo email 14 days in advance of the event, and another one a day or so prior. You can also ask them to email on the day their interview airs. Solo emails are a must have for telesummits.
  • Newsletter blurbs: These are short reminders that typically appear as a P.S. or as a part of a larger email in which several subjects are discussed.
  • Social media posts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks are ideal for driving traffic to your landing page, so plan to create a few updates your speakers can add to their social marketing schedule.
  • Social media graphics: Perfect for Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, colorful graphics are popular tools for generating a buzz about all kinds of events, including your telesummit. NOTE: If you offer your speakers an affiliate link to promote your event, do not include your landing page URL on the graphic. Doing so will allow people to bypass your speaker’s affiliate link and register directly.

Of course, you don’t have to include all types of swipe files, but the more support you provide to your speakers, the more successful your event will be and the happier your speakers will be to join you for your next telesummit, webinar or JV launch.

STEP 6: TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY

Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty of hosting a telesummit, and consequently, where many first-time hosts become overwhelmed. It’s understandable, since you have so many options. In fact, it can be difficult to wade through the available information to decide exactly what you must have, what’s “nice to have,” and what is completely unnecessary.

The most basic needs for any telesummit are these:

  • A way to record an audio interview
  • A way to host/playback your interviews
  • A way to collect names and emails
  • A way to contact attendees

That’s it. And you probably already have three out of the four.

Optional items include:

  • A plan to package the recordings and offer them for sale, including:
    * Sales Page
    * Shopping Cart (or Use PayPal)
    * Protected Members’ Area (for buyers to access recordings)
  • An affiliate program so you can share sales revenue with your speakers
  • Webinar recording software such as GoToWebinar, Zoom or InstantTeleseminar
  • Video replay storage/playback

As you might imagine, each tool has its pros and cons. The most important things to keep in mind as you make your choices then, are:

  • Your familiarity with the tool and how it works. You will be building the sales funnel and manning the controls during the interview and you want everything to run smoothly for your audience and your speakers.
  • Your audience’s level of technical savvy. For example, if your market consists largely of older women who struggle with online technology, then asking them to log in for a live GoToWebinar event might be difficult for them.
  • Your speakers’ preferred tools and technology. They’ll be participating as well as promoting, so it’s important that they’re comfortable with your intended recording equipment and your affiliate program (if you have one).

STEP 7: BUILDING THE FUNNEL

Regardless of whether you choose a basic event or one with all the bells and whistles, your funnel set up will be largely the same. The basic flow for those who register for your event is:

  • Visitor arrives at your landing/opt-in page via an email, social media post or blog post link.
  • Visitor enters her name and email and clicks the button to register.
  • Visitor’s name and email is added to your email management system, and she is redirected to your thank you/upsell page.
  • Visitor either:
    (a) purchases your upsell and is routed into that funnel or
    (b) chooses not to purchase your upsell and continues on to the thank you/access page

In addition, your new registrants will be added to your autoresponder sequence, which is simply a series of emails you’ll send out in the days leading up to and following the event. At a minimum, your autoresponder should have:

  • A welcome email. Remind them why they are receiving your email, the dates of the “live” event, and how and for how long they can access the replays.
  • Reminder emails for each day of your event, including that day’s speakers, topics and times.
  • Follow up emails reminding attendees about free gifts or offers from the speakers as well as the option to purchase recordings.

Each element in your funnel has a job to do and none is more important than the next.

STEP 8: PROMOTION

While some of the promotion responsibility will fall to your speakers, you can—and should—be promoting your event as well. You’ve hand-selected a list of “A” players who bring value and expertise to your ideal client, and you owe it to her to make sure she knows about this opportunity.

Just as your speakers will share your event, you will also be promoting via:

  • Email
  • Your blog
  • Your social media channels

As the host, you have several other options as well:

  • Paid ads
  • Guest blogging
  • Podcast interviewing
  • Press releases
  • Speaking engagements

In general, it’s a good idea to plan multiple types of promotions each day. For example, you might email your list AND post on social media AND guest blog for a colleague. As your event gets closer, your promotions should become more frequent. And don’t stop promoting once you go live. You will still attract some subscribers even if they’ve missed the first day or even two or three.

Remember, the more subscribers you can attract, the more successful your telesummit will be for everyone involved.

STEP 9: LAUNCH WEEK AND BEYOND

After all your work, launch day is finally approaching. The interviews are recorded, the promotions have been sent, and all that remains is to go “live.”

But don’t make the mistake of thinking your job is done. Smart telesummit hosts know that now is the absolute best time to engage with your audience and promote the paid replays. After all, your attendees are excited about the event, your speakers are chatting it up on social media and to their email lists, you’re fired up about the possibilities.

In Step 7 you mapped out your marketing funnel, which included reminder emails for launch week. The primary purpose of these emails is to get attendees to listen/watch the event. Life gets busy. People forget. It’s important (and not at all annoying) for you to email them every single day during the event so that they know:

  • Who’s on the schedule for the day
  • What the topic is
  • What time to show up (and where)
  • A reminder to listen/watch yesterday’s interviews before they go away

Once the day is done, you’ll also want to email with:

  • A reminder to listen now (before the recording is moved behind the pay wall)
  • Whose interview they missed if they didn’t attend today
  • What the topics were (include any juicy tidbits you can, such as “Be sure to listen to Julie’s trick for motivating yourself. She shares this super simple strategy about 19 minutes into the talk, and I can’t wait to try it out myself.”)
  • The speaker’s offer (whether free or paid—and with an affiliate link if you have one)

So yes, during the event itself, it’s perfectly ok—and maybe even expected—to email twice in one day.

In addition to getting visitors on the calls, you also want to remind them about the paid version of the telesummit. You may want to consider adding a sense of urgency or sweeten the offer by:

  • Providing a discounted price or promo code that expires when the live event is done
  • Offering transcripts or other printables to the paid version
  • Adding bonus materials such as a private Facebook group, additional trainings, ebooks or other content your attendees will value

If that sounds like a lot of emailing and a lot of offers, it is. But don’t worry. Your registrants know the drill, and they expect a larger than normal level of email activity during a telesummit event.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it is and now is definitely not the time to decide to go it alone. You will absolutely want to hire (if you don’t already have) people to assist you. At the very least, you will want to have a Virtual Assistant onboard to help you out.

Have any questions about putting together a telesummit? Please ask in the comments section below. If you’ve ever given a telesummit or attended several yourself and have some additional tips, please share!

telesummit, joint ventures, VA, outsourcing, virtual assistant, interview speakers
Hi and welcome to Virtually Done. I’m Leslie and it’s a pleasure to meet you! If you are an online entrepreneur or small business owner struggling to find enough time in your day to concentrate on the tasks you are passionate about, I can help you!

If you would like to learn more, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you!

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