Virtual Summits or Webinars?

Should you run ‘virtual summits' instead of a webinar? Let’s say you’re thinking of running an online event to promote your business.

A ‘virtual summit’ is typically a one to three-day event, with multiple speakers, sessions and breakout rooms.

virtual summits

I’ve never run a virtual summit, so I can’t comment on the effectiveness and profitability of the organisers. What I CAN say is that virtual summits can deliver tremendous value to attendees.

A ‘summit’ by definition pulls together a wider range of presenters. It’s a good way to leverage your network, grow your list and explore the nuances of a complex topic. The topic should be immediately pressing to your attendees – something that solves an immediate problem.

All of the summits I've attended have been free to attend live, with the option to buy the recordings. As with webinars, I suspect the profit lies in the back end, not in the front end. It’s also a positioning tool. If you want to be perceived as a thought leader in your industry, a virtual summit is worth considering.

So Why Have I Never Run Virtual Summits?

Well, webinars have worked well, for me and for my clients. And while it’s a LOT of work to put on a good webinar, I suspect it’s ten times as much work to run a virtual summit. Besides the technicalities, you’re going to need solid event management skills to pull the whole thing off.

My general advice is to start with webinars. If nothing else, a webinar has a clearer path to profitability. It’s a linear path from registrant to the attendee to prospect to customer. You can model each stage, and build multi-channel follow-up systems. You can test and optimise each stage.

With a virtual summit, the path to profitability is less clear. I actually think the main outcome of running a virtual summit is list growth. Asking each presenter to promote the summit to their email list is a great way to promote the summit, and in the process grow your own email list.

So a virtual summit probably sits higher in the sales funnel than a webinar. A virtual summit is a good way to establish your reputation and grow your audience. A webinar is a more focused tool for educating and selling.

So let me ask you, have you ever run a virtual summit? If so I’m interested in your experience. Hit reply and let me know.

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