Content Contributor, HeySummit
Here at HeySummit, we're always looking for new ways to help you make the best of your summits. We're doing our best to feature all the ways HeySummit has been used and loved by our community of users. In this post, the spotlight's on Wes Bush of Product-Led Growth. Wes Bush is the Founder and Principal of the Product-Led Institute, and the author of Product-Led Growth. He has 2 summits under his belt already, including the Product-Led Summit. Read on and get inspired 🏔️
There's a lot of content out there on the traditional playbook model of selling with demos. Wes Bush knew what few others in the business did - that it was possible to create a product that could sell itself. Having already set up the Product-Led Institute, Wes quickly noticed that there were many other brilliant people out there building all sorts of product-led companies. He wanted to find a way to share their strategies with other people and help more businesses grow. Enter HeySummit: the perfect platform for Wes to pull experts together and have them showcase their ideas and resources - essentially, "here's how to do product, but with huge growth".
Planning is key
Summits take a lot of planning. Having given himself three months to put together a summit, Wes knew that the first step was to outline a plan. During the first month of preparations, he focused on having the website up and running; getting partners in line; and identifying the kind of speakers he wanted to have. Month two involved on-boarding those speakers and managing them - mainly answering all the questions they had about putting together an incredible talk. In month three, the focus was on ensuring that all the talks had been recorded, submitted and edited for length and relevance. To build up anticipation for the event, Wes frequently sent emails to his network and mailing list and encouraged his partners and speakers to do the same.
Making summits simple
Ultimately, Wes had 50 speakers and 2200 attendees over 4 days. Each day had its own theme: Strategy Day, Activation Day and Acquisition Day. This strategy worked best as it allowed attendees to focus on the topics they cared most about, and tune out the others. During the summit signup process, attendees simply had to fill in their names and select the categories they were interested in - and Wes did the rest.
Know your worth
This was a 100% free event if attended live - a great way to get attention. So much so that some attendees even bought the all-access pass before the summit began. Wes altered his prices based on how far in advanced people bought the passes, going from $49, to $79 and then, $99. Since it was a B2B conference, he also sold a team all-access pass. In terms of leveraging the platform and its capabilities, this is an easy sell for companies with a large product or marketing team.
To streamline the organization process, Wes used Trello. For example, he tracked his progress on-boarding speakers by creating one column stating whether or not he had already reached out; what their response was; and if a follow-up was needed. He first approached potential speakers on LinkedIn, with something along the lines of "Hey, I'm putting together a summit with these companies, and there's going to be around X many attendees, would you be keen to speak at it?" Ever the determined summit host, if the speakers didn't respond within the week, Wes found their email addresses and reached out to them directly. What surprised Wes the most was that getting speakers wasn't difficult - he cautions that it's actually better to be picky about who's speaking at your summit.
Happy speakers, happy attendees
A lot of speakers love sharing their story on LinkedIn. Wes made it much easier for them to share his summit by creating a pre-made tweet; a two, three liner quip about what they'd be speaking about at his summit. From this, he got a ton of engagement from his speakers' audiences, especially on LinkedIn and Twitter. In addition, quality was one thing that Wes wouldn't compromise on- one bad talk could really sour a people's views on the quality of the summit. For his summits he only used pre-recorded talks in two different talk styles: interview-style (40% of talks) and presentation-style (60% of talks). Organizing a summit means being able to go with the flow, and solving any issues that may arise - after all, no two summits are the same. In Wes's case, there were a couple of busy speakers who were too busy for Wes' emails and reminders about recording their talks and only reached out for help the week before the summit. Excluding them from the summit was out of the question - some attendees signed up just to hear them speak with some of those talks having over 500 attendees. To save the talk, he conducted a last minute podcast-style interview with the speakers.
Using all the tools in your arsenal
Initially, Wes offered his book for free with each signup. After the summit was complete, he ended the offer in order to keep selling the book. Apart from that, the most effective channels for acquiring attendees for his summit was his email list and LinkedIn (roughly 25% of traffic). He outsourced advertising as it was a lot of work. Wes leveraged these "content allies" to do the LinkedIn posts and republish his content. Around 10% of traffic came from paid ads on Facebook - the rest was a mix of partners, word of mouth (62% of people surveyed at the end of Wes's summit had shared the summit with co-workers through channels like Slack) and re-marketing to his email list.
It's not a one-man job
Wes worked tirelessly to keep up with the speakers to ensure they were on track to finish their speech before the summit, while leaving himself enough time to finish the edits. With only so many hours in a day, summits are a team effort. Wes used the Professional Services team at HeySummit to support his summit preparation. After finding the speakers and reaching out to them, he passed them onto the Professional Services team to handle the rest. Wes also used Google Analytics, FullStory and Facebook Pixel to get the most out of the data on his summit traffic; which ultimately guided him on ways he could further build his brand and business. However, with so much data at your fingertips, it's easy to get lost. To help with this, find your "North Star" metric upon which you measure your summit's success. For Wes, it was how likely attendees were to recommend his summit to others. From there, deciding what to tweak (and how) for his next summit became a breeze.
Plan, plan, plan
Structuring one's time is important - it's easy for the summit to seem like it's far away. The key is to get people excited about the event and have a great buildup. Wanting to make a real impact in his space, Wes ensured he left enough time to promote his summit, spreading the word through a variety of different channels to see what worked best for his industry.
To take his summit to the next level, Wes found partners in his space who were complementary businesses. One of the biggest mistakes he made early on at his first summit was having a lot of partner businesses offering similar services. As a result, they were hesitant to share his summit since they would essentially be advertising for their competitors.
Never stop trying
The key to getting sponsors is repetition. Even if unsuccessful for the first summit, try again for the next! The more you do this, the more you show that you're serious and consistent in your aim to be a leader in your industry. Wes found that his newfound credibility made it much easier to get sponsors the second time around. To identify potential sponsors, he built a list of sponsors of other SaaS conferences and reached out to them.
Let others help you
Wes made sure to send out a simple survey at the end of the summit - the right questions helped him gain a lot of great insights. Questions ranged from simple ones like, "How would you rate this summit on a scale of one to five"? Or, "Would you recommend this summit to your colleague"? To more specific ones such as, "How did you find the speaker lineup"? "How was the quality of the talks"? Wes also found that when prompted for recommendations on how to make the summit better next time, respondents were more than happy to share their suggestions, insights and comparisons from other summits they'd attended. In a way, the best method of improving on a summit is to, well, host one!
Love what you're reading? Why not have a go at hosting your very own summit- on us. Here's a link to your free trial with HeySummit. While you're at it, check out an awesome review of HeySummit by the E-Commerce Entrepreneur. Happy summiting 🏔️
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