Episode 291

How to Grow Your Community and Niche Network through a Virtual Summit with Jan Koch from WP Agency Summit

Learn how to grow your community and niche network through a virtual summit with Jan Koch from WP Agency Summit in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS. Jan has been doing a lot of things around the WordPress space since 2012, working as a developer, entrepreneur, and educator. In this episode he breaks down his process for running virtual summits to generate leads and network. He shares some successes, failures, and what you may want to consider about whether running a virtual summit is right for your online course business.

How to grow your community and niche network through a virtual summit with Jan Koch from WP Agency Summit

Jan ran his first summit in 2015 after learning about the concept from his friend Navid Moazzez, who runs Virtual Summit Mastery, a masterclass on how to run a virtual summit for building relationships, connections, and becoming an authority in your market. At that time Jan’s business was on a plateau, as he was doing freelance development and had the typical feast and famine cycles. So running a virtual summit was a way to pivot to the next level and start to run passive programs that could also generate leads for a premium service.

The tools for running a virtual conference are more accessible than you may think. Jan uses Zoom to record and stream, and then uploads the recordings to Vimeo to create evergreen content.

The Ecom Services Summit was Jan’s first summit. He considers that one to be a failure, as his goal was 3,000 registrations, and he only ended up with 700 registrations. He attributes the failure to not having clear enough targeting or messaging about who his event was for and what benefits the event offered. Many online course creators have this same struggle with finding great messaging for their products.

In this episode, Jan also breaks down how he approaches sponsorships with his summits, and what you may want to consider when it comes to sponsorship package availability and what is included with incentivizing sponsorships. But also to have a great attendee experience. He dives into strategies for how you can monetize a summit by having live attendance free, but with the recordings also available in a course format after the summit is over.

To learn more about Jan Koch, be sure to check out his Facebook group WP Mastery. You can also find Jan on Twitter at @IAmJanKoch. And don’t forget to head to WPAgencySummit.com to see how Jan is running his summit and what you can learn about running your own virtual summit.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high-value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest, another WordPress community member. His name is Jan Koch. I can’t pronounce that in German so he can correct me. He’s from the WP Agency Summit. I’m a huge WordPress community guy, and WordPress and community, both online and person, is super important. So I’m excited to dig into it with you today. Welcome to the show, Jan.

Jan Koch:

Thanks for having me, Chris. It’s an honor.

Chris Badgett:

You do a lot of things around WordPress and you’ve been around for awhile. How do you categorize yourself? Like developer, entrepreneur, educator? If you had to slap a bunch of labels, you’re obviously multitalented, what paths have you taken through WordPress?

Jan Koch:

That’s a good question. Given that I started in 2012, there are a lot of labels you could slap on me. Right now I’m doing WordPress development and I’m focusing on hosting these virtual conferences. If you would have to put a label on me, I would say virtual summit host/developer.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. If you’re listening to this and you’re a course creator or a school, or either just getting started or advanced, or you’re a WordPress freelancer agency person that kind of supports those industries, let’s dig into the virtual summit. Like how did you get into that? And I just want to add that if you’re doing education online, doing like online courses and membership sites and online schools and all these things, or even you’re just doing internal training inside your company with your WordPress LMS website, building a community and building industry connections is important. And a summit, a virtual summit, it’s a virtual conference with speakers and audience and everything. Like how’d, you get into this as … And it’s complex. It’s not easy to pull off, so how’d you get into it?

Jan Koch:

So the first summit I ran was in 2015. So it’s not caused by the pandemic that I’m doing these events. You hit the reason on the head, it’s for building the relationships, building the connections and positioning yourself as an authority in the market. When I was thinking about the first summit, a friend of mine, Navid Moazzez, who runs Virtual Summit Mastery, a training course on summits. He ran his first summit just a couple of months earlier. And that’s how I heard about the concept for the first time.

And to that time, my business was on a plateau. I was doing freelance development and I had kind of these feast and feminine cycles that everybody dreads, where you have a few months that go really well, then you have a few months where you’re struggling to get new customers. And I thought that the summit might be a good idea to pivot onto the next level. So it was for me, the idea was to do something different, to do something that hadn’t been done before and having Navid by my side as my mentor, who interviewed 88 people on his very first virtual summit, I knew that I had a particular chance of at least making some waves. Whether it be positive or negative, I didn’t really know why that, but I just wanted to switch gears in my business and I figured that a virtual summit might be a nice idea because nobody was doing that at the time.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. I’m not old school internet marketer, so I noticed when Navid came on the scene and it just kind of this whole virtual summit industry really blew up. It was kind of an evolution from the solo webinar or maybe a panel webinar or whatever. In WordPress, we’re familiar with blogging. I’m a huge fan, especially for beginners in any niche or industry or building your connections to do a Roundup post where you’re asked like one question and you send it out to 50 or a hundred people. I mean, that’s kind of hard, but a virtual summit is a whole other level of hard than doing a Roundup blog post.

Jan Koch:

It’s similar. Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

But what’s happening is the tools like WordPress, however you’re doing, are you doing it with Zoom? Are you actually-

Jan Koch:

Yeah. I’m recording with Zoom and then publishing via Vimeo.

Chris Badgett:

Via Vimeo. So the tools have just gotten better and easier to like … Technology at your fingertips, to like hold a virtual conference. I mean, even just the thought of an in-person conference and organizing a hotel and rooms. I mean, it’s easier than that, but it’s still technically pretty challenging. You mentioned before we started recording that you had one that didn’t go as well called the … Was it the E-commerce Summit? What was it called?

Jan Koch:

Yeah, Ecom Services Summit. Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

So Ecom Services Summit. So as a WordPress developer, WordPress developers, and I know this from my days running an agency is e-commerce is where there’s a lot of money because the website’s super important and it’s the revenue driver for the business and it might even be the entire business. So helping other service providers in that niche, in theory, it’s a good idea. So what happened?

Jan Koch:

That’s what I thought. It wasn’t the take that failed me, it was my strategy. It was my approach to the summit. As I said, e-commerce is blowing up these days, especially with COVID, everybody needs to go online and sell stuff online. And my thought was, why not create an event that helps agencies who work with e-commerce to better provide their services or to maybe onboard customers better to build better web shops, educate them on how e-commerce works so that they can deliver better services.

It bombed, so I’m arrogant to say that it bombed because it still had 700 and a few registrations, which is huge for any offline event. So who am I to say that 700 people paying time or paying attention and spending their time with content I helped create is a failure. In that regard, you still can build amazing connections from 700 people. My goal is just but different. I was aiming at 3000. So in that context, that’s why I’m saying the Ecom Services Summit bombed, and also monetarily it wasn’t the best investment, but it’s still a lesson learned.

The reason it failed was it’s similar I think to what some course creators also experiences. Your messaging and your targeting wasn’t on point. That is what I experienced too. So the tech stack we’ve got that covered and we have tools even like Lifter that help us build these things pretty straightforward. But if you are not communicating the benefits of what you are building clearly, and you are not reaching the right people, that’s when you usually experience issues. And that’s what happened with the Ecom Services Summit.

Maybe my target market was too small, like agencies who focus on e-commerce using WordPress and Shopify, maybe that was too small to target properly. Maybe my wording on the landing page wasn’t good. Or the Facebook ads I ran weren’t good. I rushed into it a little bit, I have to admit that too. So I spent one and a half months of creating this summit where usually I would say three months is the absolute minimum.

Chris Badgett:

So three months from idea to like, we’re going live, is the memo?

Jan Koch:

Yeah. And those are stressful three months.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Jan Koch:

So you can easily split that over to half a year. If you’re running your first summit, I would say, do it very properly, do it thoroughly, document what you’re doing, take your time rather than rushing into it. But those factors just came together for the Ecom Services Summit and led to only 700 people showing up, which is still a huge number considering the difference.

Chris Badgett:

Is the business model like the thing where the summit is free, but then if you want access to the recordings later, the all access pass you’ve got to pay for that? Is that pretty much the model.

Jan Koch:

It’s one of the models that you can implement. There are three that you can use, or three that I see being used most often. The one you mentioned where you keep the summit free, and then you sell the recordings, is something that I do. That I see gets … You have to strike a balance with that because the free events get shared more easily and you can promote it better. Because when you’re promoting something that’s paid, people are hesitant to share it. When you say it’s free, come and join while it’s live, then it’s more easy to promote the event.

Another approach you can do is create corporate sponsorship packages, which is what I’m combining with the previous you mentioned approach. I do have paid sponsorship packages for corporations that then get exposure on the event. We can talk about that into more detail and I’m happy to do a screen share for the people watching the video recording, and then walking them through the packages. We can do that too, if that fits.

And then the third strategy that you can do is you can keep it for free forever. Use it as a list building tool because those summit explode. If you promote them properly, they can easily drive. If it’s free, you can drive 3000, 4,00, 5,000 people to your list within a week. And then you upsell those people after they went through the summit contents. There’s something that the WP buffs are doing. I think at the end of September, they are running a virtual summit that stays free and their goal is to educate agency owners and then sign them as white label agency partners. So this is also a very sustainable model. It’s probably a bit slower in monetary terms. You’re not getting your ROI as quickly, but you are building a more predictable and more stable income stream with that approach.

Chris Badgett:

Wow! So you have to be strategic, you can’t just wing these things.

Jan Koch:

You can, but you won’t see good results.

Chris Badgett:

I do want to get into the screen sharing and if you’re listening on your podcast earbuds, hold on before you start though on that. Before I get into it, I want to ask you what’s in it for the speakers? And for those of you that are listening, we have a YouTube channel, just google LifterLMS YouTube, and do a search on that channel for Jan Koch. And you’ll find this conversation where if you want to see the screen sharing part, but before we get into that, you mentioned three models, there’s the free and the paid access pass. Then there’s the free with corporate sponsor. And then there’s the free forever as a list builder with some other kind of backend strategy. What’s in it for the speakers? And does it really change through those models or is it more or less-

Jan Koch:

Not really.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, what’s in it for them? Why do they say yes?

Jan Koch:

Usually they want exposure really. We are lucky in the WordPress community, as you said WordPress community in the beginning, it is a really comfortable space and it’s an active communities. So the vast majority of speakers I have, they do not get paid for-

Chris Badgett:

I know you’re used to not getting paid. I just mean that like a WordCamp, like the events in the WordPress space are not meant to be huge speaker moneymaking things. And some people who speak there do get paid to speak in other places, but they’re not in it for the money, right?

Jan Koch:

It’s similar with a virtual summit. They’re usually in it to build connections with their target audience because on the summit you give speakers the opportunity to do live chats with the attendees, to do live video calls with attendees. And that way they can improve their branding, create even more value by sharing more knowledge and then position themselves even more as an expert, if you will.

I did have one speaker who demanded to get paid. And what we found out as a solution was he got paid based on the video views he got compared to the other speakers, but that was, in five years, it was the only time his speaker really demanded to get paid.

Chris Badgett:

You mean he or she wanted you pay them if they got watched more than the other people?

Jan Koch:

Yeah. He had this base fee that he wanted to get paid. And then that was something that I wasn’t happy with. I will be honest with that because I was very clear in the communications leading up that it’s a not paid gig. After agreeing to not being paid, he then demanded to get paid. And based on that, we figured out that it would just be fair to set the audience he attracted, to set that in a relationship to the audience the other speakers attracted and to then get him some form of a percentage based on that rather than paying his flat fee.

But usually what you sell the speakers on is exposure to the target audience, and of course it helps if you’ve done multiple summits and you’ve seen a few thousand people sign up to your events, then it’s easier to get speakers, but don’t be afraid to ask. For this event, I emailed Marieke from Yoast, the CEO from Yoast. I emailed her asking her and inviting her, and she immediately agreed. In 2015, I tweeted at Jason Cohen from WP Engine and Rand Fishkin from Moz. And they immediately agreed. So you just have to ask. You cannot be afraid what can happen, you hear a no, and then life goes on. So really, what do you have to lose?

Chris Badgett:

That was for your first one too, right?

Jan Koch:

Yeah. I had no credibility whatsoever. Nobody knew me. So you just have to be confident. The first summer that you’re running is not going to be perfect. I think no summit will be perfect because you always have things go wrong. I even had my summit page go down because it was too much traffic on the summit, which is kind of the new mistake that you want to avoid being a WordPress professional. But even in that case, the community responded very, very helpful. And I had various companies jumping to my side even setting aside their whole senior development team, helping me to fix the issues with the server. So that is the beauty of being in this community.

Chris Badgett:

Totally. Well. Let’s take a look, if you want to do that screen share. Are we looking at how to do corporate sponsor packages or what are we looking at?

Jan Koch:

Yeah, let’s do that. Maybe let’s start with the registration page for now. Let’s maybe structure it in a way that we walk your audience through how the summit attendees experience the summit.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that sounds great.

Jan Koch:

And then look at the corporate sponsorship.

Chris Badgett:

That sounds great. And if you’re listening again in your earbuds, just go to the LifterLMS YouTube channel and search for Jan Koch. And I know Jan will do his best to describe what we’re looking at, if you can’t go to the video, but go ahead.

Jan Koch:

Perfect. Let me start the screen share. Are you seeing the right screen or you’re seeing the wrong screen?

Chris Badgett:

I see the registration screen.

Jan Koch:

Brilliant. So let me zoom in a little bit. This is for everybody watching. It’s register.wpagencysummit.com. Shame, this block right here. I’m sorry for that. The landing page off of virtual summit has to fulfill two jobs really. One is you need to communicate what’s happening on your virtual event. Like what can attendees expect to learn from the event when they attend? And then two is you have to explain what the event really is, who is speaking, how to consume the event, when the event is happening and then build the proof using the social proof of the speakers to boost the authority of the event, and what I’m doing on this landing page right here is the main headline is, Bring Back The Fun Into Scaling Your WP Agency. And then there is the subtitle, go behind the scenes with 25 world-class agency owners and WordPress thought leaders. So that is kind of setting the stage for the event and people coming to the page, see what they can expect.

Chris Badgett:

For contrast, you said your other failure was your failed summit that had 700 people, like how many people come to this or whatever? How do you-

Jan Koch:

The last one I did in 2019 had 2,153 registrations. And the WP feedback summit I did this year with the WP feedback team had 5,700.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome.

Jan Koch:

So this is really an example of, you need to know who you are talking to. And for me that’s WordPress agency owners who struggle to scale their business. That’s what the entire page is based around. And then you have various call to actions. It’s kind of like a long form landing page, if you want to compare that to what you’re doing with the course promotion, you have a long form landing page explaining what your course is all about, and maybe trying to get people to sign up to your email list, and then you educate them on what’s happening in the course. And just sell them on the course after a couple of days. That is similar with this landing page.

Chris Badgett:

Well, it’s like a course or a membership or a summit. They’re all learning experiencing.

Jan Koch:

It is.

Chris Badgett:

It’s a learning event that’s going to happen. Maybe the tweak the dials, maybe lots of people teaching or whatever community, they’re all circling around the same thing, which is a learning experience.

Jan Koch:

It is. In the end, your virtual summit, assuming you are selling lifetime access to the recording after the summit is over, it is your average membership area. It’s your average course. It’s the same approach. It’s the same technology, you just give away all the content for free and you have multiple people promoted kind of like the example with the roundup posts that you brought earlier.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Jan Koch:

It’s the same process. Below the hero section, what I have added is a section to improve the credibility of the event by highlighting what brands the speakers of my summit work with, which is Starbucks, National Geographic, Steve Madden, Microsoft, MTV, some really big names that I would never be in touch with myself. Let’s say, that’s right. This is the flow of the page essentially. You get them interested, build approve, and then you educate them on what to expect from the event.

Throughout the page, you then highlight who is speaking on the event, which is, for me it’s really important this time to have a very diverse speaker lineup, like a nice split between male and female, but also have people with colored skin in there and not just represent white people because the community is much more diverse than just having your white startup guys. Yeah, it’s really a landing page for a cause, if you will. You have to be very clear that it’s a virtual event, that it is a time restricted event rather, than just a course that you can access at any point in time.

And then after somebody signs up from your landing page, what you usually do is you redirect them to an offer page. So that is … It’s work in progress here still, so you’re getting a sneak peek. If you’re watching this interview, by the time this goes live, it will look slightly different, but the principles are the same. So if somebody signs up, what you can do, you don’t need to do this. But what I like to do is I like to get them onto an upsell page, kind of what you do with your tripwire offer, if you have a $7 ebook or something that you are selling. What I do is I very, very cheaply say the lifetime access to the summit before it starts.

It’s a safe strategy that you can implement, you don’t need to. It’s just something that I found works really well. I usually, from my other summits, I saw the most say it’s actually in the prelaunch rather than why the event was live. Maybe sometimes people just downloaded the videos themselves that they liked the most. So they didn’t need to pay for the lifetime access. Maybe they just downloaded the sessions directly from the browser, but this is a nice way to monetize the event.

Chris Badgett:

And from your just experience and industry knowledge, your mileage may vary for those of you watching or listening, but what percentage of people that sign up for the free Summit go for the paid part, whether it’s, if you’re doing that model, what’s a reasonable expectation range in a healthy summit turn up?

Jan Koch:

I’ve seen up to 25% of conversion rate for the sales. I’ve also had summits that had like 5%, the Ecom Services Summit that we talked about, that wasn’t too nice, but usually around 15 to 20%, I would say is what you can aim for. And if you’re doing a good job, it can be much higher. I’m in this Virtual Summit Mastery group and I see regular six figure summits happening in there.

So this can be quite a boost for any business. And as we said in the very beginning, please don’t forget that the monetary aspect is just one part of the benefits. For me obviously we all need to pay our bills. So the monetary aspect is important, but what’s far, far more important is building the relationships. Because when you want to interview somebody, you need to be on somewhat of the same wavelength with them. You need to have some form of connection to somebody.

Interviewing all these speakers immediately brings you onto their radar. And they realize what big of a project you are taking on by running a virtual summit. And usually this gives you more opportunities down the road. Just as an example from this summit, I had Mario Peshev on, the CEO of DevriX, who works with enterprise clients like Audi. Immediately after our recording, I got an email from his assistant asking me to contribute to a roundup post that he was doing on LinkedIn. And he never knew about me if I didn’t invite him to the virtual summit. So this is just a small example of the ripple effects that can come from this.

You also might get approached by companies who want you as their brand ambassador, because you are doing something good in the community and they want your goodwill to rub off on them if you will. So there are many, many ripple effects that you can likely reap for the years to come after you run the first successful summit.

Chris Badgett:

I love that quote, your net worth is your network or whatever, like it’s important. And then network can happen virtually too. It’s not only the people that you shook hands with.

Jan Koch:

Yeah. Yeah. I, 100% agree with you. And we can also look in some examples of how you can foster live interactions on a virtual summit, while the summit is live with all the speakers and attendees and sponsors and stuff. Okay, back to the screen share. For the listeners, we are now on the upsell page. So this is the page you open up after somebody signs up and you try to sell them on the lifetime access, if you’re following this model.

At that time, you also send them an email welcoming them and congratulating them for signing up to the event. And in that email, you’d outline the next steps on when the event is taking place, how they can access all the contents, what they can expect, and that you’ll keep them posted over the few weeks leading up to the event, so that they always know what to expect. At the time, where we are right now in the process, the prelaunch really is done, because there’s not more that you can do or that you really need to do for attendees until the summit starts. You just need to make sure that they are always kept in the loop and they always know what is going on with the event. What you can do is you can give them teasing snippets of the interviews that you are recording. So most summits will have prerecorded interviews. More summits will not be conducted live.

So what you can do is you can cut your prerecorded sessions into some form of highlight reel and send that to your attendees to spike their attention, to get them fired up about the event and get them sharing so that the word of mouth starts going for the promotion of your event.

But really from a promotional marketing perspective, this is what the prelaunch has structured. And then obviously you can have multiple other channels to promote the event like Facebook ads, Twitter ads, LinkedIn, whatever channel works best for your market. You can go on podcasts. So what we are doing right now turned out to be a promotion for the podcast, because we might get this episode out before the summit starts. You can do guest posts. At the time of recording yesterday, a post of my mine on conversion Excel went live for virtual summits. You can do posts on medium. You could do posts on depth or TO. You can engage in forums and get the word of mouth going on relevant places.

It’s really important that you get conversation started about your event, not in a salesy way, but what I’d like to do is ask people for feedback. Like, what topic am I missing on my event? Which person would you like to see speaking at my event? Who am I missing in my lineup? Are you happy with the diversity in my lineup, or do I need to add more males or more females speakers? Things like that. Really honest feedback, rather than being a salesy guy. I hate sales. I suck at sales.

What I really like to do is I like to deliver value with these events. And then if somebody decides to go for a sponsorship package or upgrades to the lifetime pass, that’s nice, but that’s because I’ve given them something that’s worth paying for. I don’t have the money in mind when I run these events, but I want to build these relationships. It might sound sleazy and it might sound cliche, but it’s really kind of an alternative to the WordCamps, they get canceled all the time. I want to bring the community together online. And there are many other ways, like Big Orange Heart is doing that with the WordPress London events and many other communities who are on the same venture as I am. So I’m glad to see that the WordPress community is really picking up steam in this regard. Talking about sales, if you don’t have any other questions about the prelaunch, Chris, should we talk about the sponsorship packages?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, let’s do it. So if we’re going to monetize our summit with sponsorship, what are the packages and how do we get sponsors?

Jan Koch:

Yeah. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all approach with this, but I’ll share what works for me. And this is a three sponsorship packages, kind of like your regular three tier pricing structure that you would have for a cause or for any other product as well.

Chris Badgett:

We call that, good, better, best.

Jan Koch:

Exactly. What cheap, the one I want to sell, and the one that’s ridiculous expensive. I do have the cliche, bronze, silver, and gold labels on the sponsorship packages. Really what you do is you want to give companies exposure on your event, kind of similar to a real conference where you have the hallway track, and then you have the sponsorship booth, where companies have their own booth and can present themselves. I try to replicate that on the virtual summits too, because that’s a proven model.

And the cheapest sponsorship packages, which sells for a thousand dollars, and I have not sold any of them yet at the time of recording this, they get a click of a logo on all the summit pages that goes to a link of their choice. They get a thank you mention during a live kickoff events. So that is a live webinar I’m hosting with a few of the speakers when the event starts. Their logo is included in all the emails, newsletters, all communication around the summit, really. They get promoted to the summit audience, they get lifetime access codes that they can then use as a giveaway to their audience, or they can forward them to their employees and they get logos individual booths for the summit sponsors.

So that’s really the cheapest package that I’ve come up with. The more expensive one is a silver one, that is $2,500. And that has sold out by the time of we are recording this. They are a sponsor of the Evergreen Summit Version Two. What this means is similar to Evergreen webinars that you can watch as a recording on a fake, starting the next day, to unschedule, this is what I’m doing with this Summit Two, after the summit is over and a few months have passed. I turned that Evergreen, so that attendees can sign up for free, see all the content for free. And then for 12 months, I’ll use this as a way to build my list, to sell the occasional lifetime access pass, if somebody finds it interesting, and to also promote the sponsors of the event. That’s what you get with a silver and gold package.

Silver and gold sponsors get a live webinar during the summit. Additionally to their pre-recorded session on the event, they get a live webinar where they can then educate attendees, go back and forth on questions the summit attendees have and dive deeper into the topic of their choice. So that can be, for example, one sponsor will highlight their white label program, and will showcase how agencies can work with them as a white label partner, how agencies can scale their business using their help. That is one example. And it’s important when you do offer this to your sponsors, to not let those webinars turn into a pitch fest, because then you’ll lose engagement for the entire event, if that happens.

So this is a hard no. If somebody wants to do that, they get visually highlighted on the website. So in the list of all the speakers, in the list of all the sessions, those of the silver and gold sponsor will stand out. They will be placed on top at the front and get some visual highlights and they get a virtual booth that they can use to run marketing campaigns and lead generation campaigns. I’ll show that in a minute, after we’ve covered the gold sponsorship. And as I said, the silver sponsor retails for $2,500 here on my event, and this is sold out by the time we are recording this. I’ve sold four spots of that.

To be honest, I could have sold more, but it’s again, a question of how much do you really need to run this event? And also how much commercial promotion do we want to have in the event? If you bring on like 20 sponsors, probably if you are a good marketer, you can sell 20 sponsorship packages to your event. But what does that mean to the experience of the attendees, where they then have 20 live webinars, where a company is spending 30 minutes educating and 30 minutes pitching, is that really a good attendee experience?

So this is something that I would urge your readers in the sense to keep in mind when setting up sponsorship packages, and it’s similar for the gold sponsorship. I could have probably sold more than two. One is sold already, and one company is looking at gold right now, and that includes a dedicated Facebook ad campaigns coming from my budget to highlight their session. It includes a live panel discussion. So that’s another live engagement with the attendees where the sponsor can bring on guests of their choice into the live discussion, a ten second video at before and after each session on the summit and a free sponsorship for the next WP Agency Summit next year.

Similar example, if I bring on five gold sponsors, I would make $30,000 with this, but that would also mean I have five video clips in the beginning of each session and five video clips at the end of each session. And that’s worse than what YouTube is doing these days.

So there’s always this balance that you need to keep in mind, and you can make good money with these summits. And as I’ve said, I’ve seen multiple six figure summits happen in the community that I’m in. One example is crazy, it’s the Harp Summit. It’s a virtual summit for people who are playing the harp, the instrument. And she makes like 80,000 to a hundred thousand almost every time with the summit. It’s insane. I think that just goes to show how creative you can get in terms of targeting and that it’s not exhausted by any means, even though many people are already speaking about a virtual event fatigue. I think if you’re doing this properly and you’re not going too salesy into these events, then I think you have a good shot at getting good feedback.

One of the virtual booths that I’ve open right now on the screen, this is from the Ecom Services Summit from Weglot, who also sponsor my next summit. They have this spinning wheel on the virtual booth where some of the attendees could enter their email address to spin the wheel, and then they win coupon codes or they win swag, whatever Weglot came up with. And this is something where you can really get creative with when you’re building these booth is, give them sponsors the flexibility to offer what they want in these booths because I’m building these pages with elemental, chances are, if you’re running a summit, you’re running some form of page builder and you’re not hard coding everything yourself. Leverage the tools that you have.

And if a sponsor doesn’t like the spinning wheel idea, but wants to have a popup quiz to generate their leads, give them a quiz. Make it about the sponsor. That’s big for me. I always try to accommodate what the company paying me wants to get out of the event and what they think works best. I don’t think we’re at the stage of virtual summits where there is this one approach that works all the time and nobody gets bored of it after seeing it for the 15th time. It’s something that you can really shine and be flexible with when communicating with your sponsors.

What I also like to do is … I think it’s hard to show, but what I’d like to do is sponsors get admin access to their page. And then during the summit, during their office hours, when somebody is there to reply to live chat requests, for example, or to reply to video calls, they can turn on a live chat and a video call feature in their virtual booth, so that they get direct interactions with the summit attendees.

Chris Badgett:

What technology do you use to power the live chat and the video calls?

Jan Koch:

Video calls is Jitsi. I like the self-host Jitsi server for that. It’s a simple DigitalOcean droplet that you can get pre-configured and then I think-

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, it just embeds in a WordPress page?

Jan Koch:

Yeah. You can think of it as an embedded Zoom that when you come to the page, it immediately asks for controlling your camera and microphone. And if you say, no, you can still use the live chat, which I use with Chatroll, which is also a simple I-frame embed. And then going this path-

Chris Badgett:

You can control it to the level of the page so that like this sponsor can use the chat on this page kind of thing?

Jan Koch:

Yeah, yeah. What you can do is similar to each Zoom room having its own unique URL, you can set a similar concept up with Jitsi, where you have multiple Jitsi instances that you can then … Essentially, I think what I’ve done is I’ve coded a short code that takes the URL as a parameter and then generates an I-frame embed code. I don’t remember exactly how it’s been, but the documentation is on the website. If somebody wants to know how it’s built, shoot me an email or leave a comment on the website, reach out to me via Twitter or whatever. I’m happy to share that. It’s very, very easy to set up if you are a developer.

If you don’t know how to code, I would probably go a different route. I would probably go with Zoom or a different tool, but if you know your way around configuring servers and using a bit of JavaScript to configure something and using SSH into a server and then configuring service, if that doesn’t scare you, then Jitsi is a great tool.

And then as I said, the live chat is based on Chatroll. And I like to go these two tools and combine them because not everybody is comfortable jumping into a video call, not knowing who else is in there. It’s similar to when you are at a conference at WordCamp and you are looking in the hallway and looking for an empty table because you are afraid of speaking to all the other people. You just see crowded tables all over the place. It takes guts to join that conversation.

As we said in the very beginning, you consider yourself an introvert and I do too. So even though we both might appear very outgoing in this conversation, if we are in-person and we didn’t meet beforehand, I wouldn’t be as open. I wouldn’t be as comfortable talking with you. So you have to accommodate for that. And you have to remember that not everybody is comfortable jumping into a room that has maybe 30 or 40 people going on in a conversation and you are the 41st person joining into it.

Chris Badgett:

I think that’s a really important point. We’re getting close to time, so I just want to kind of get close to wrapping. The internet is known for having this concept called lurkers. It’s just people just watching something you don’t know who they are like this podcast that you’re listening to right now, as of this recording, I think only has something like 15 reviews or 14 reviews, but it’s been down … Like all the people, you listening to this right now, I have no idea who you are and that is completely fine.

I think you mentioned in the conference, yeah, some people are a little more on the edges, and the internet, it’s even more. Some people just don’t engage and that’s completely cool or they want to watch for a little bit before they do. Quick question for you, Jan, before we kind of wrap up, I’m kind of fascinated at your success and your failure contrast. And so if I was just going to use like me as an example like … I’ve run some virtual summits before, smaller, just with my own lists and stuff. But if I was going to really go big and I wanted to help like WordPress LMS professionals and do a summit for them, which it sounds like that’s what you did for your WooCommerce and Shopify e-commerce professionals, and it didn’t work out, but when you repositioned it as scaling up your overwhelmed WordPress business in its current state, that seemed to work. So what advice would you have for me? Like, maybe you shouldn’t focus on the industry, but focusing on the, what?

Jan Koch:

To frame this, I did the WP Agency Summit first in 2019, and then tried venturing into e-commerce. So I knew that helping WordPress agencies helped because I used myself as a customer avatar. For the WP Agency Summit, I knew exactly who I wanted to have on the summit, who I needed to reach with the summit and what types of topics I needed to cover. Because I’m running an agency, I’m overwhelmed sometimes, and I want to make more money with my agency and have a better lifestyle with it, have a better work life balance. So I knew-

Chris Badgett:

So you had all the hot buttons.

Jan Koch:

Yeah. Exactly. I knew exactly the issues that I wanted to solve with that agency summit. And there was something that I didn’t know with the Ecom Services Summit. I knew from working with e-commerce clients, what type of problems those WooCommerce shops and Shopify shops were facing.

I have a basic understanding of how e-commerce works. Like in theory, I can set up a successful e-commerce store because I’ve read all the articles like everybody else does. What I didn’t know is I’ve never built a six figure e-commerce store myself from scratch or worked with a client from scratch, who runs one, I’ve maintained one, but I wasn’t involved in the scaling process, if you will.

I have never run an agency that is focusing solely on WooCommerce. I’m not familiar enough with WooCommerce to know all the nitty-gritty little details that bide you, and your you know what, when you’re building a WooCommerce. I’ve never spent a reasonable amount of budget on a Facebook ad campaign to scale an e-commerce product. I’ve never done influencer marketing. Looking back, it was quite stupid to run the Ecom Services Summit in the first place. And even though I had some pretty big names on that as speakers, I was really happy with the speakers that I got, and I thought I had the messaging really down to the T, but I hadn’t. That’s just the point of it.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s brilliant. I mean, just because you see an opportunity or there’s a hot niche over here, whatever you’re closest to, especially if it’s your first one, that you’re going to get people just like you, that hurt just like you and hope just like you. That’s a big lesson there. Jan, I want to thank you for coming on the show. I’m super passionate around anything, online learning, virtual summits is a part of that. For you that’s out there watching, go to wpagencysummit.com. There was a portion of this podcast that we did on video screen share, so head on over to LifterLMS YouTube channel. Any other final words for the people, Jan, on how to connect with you and how to get involved with WP Agency Summit, whether they’re watching or listening to this before or after the event?

Jan Koch:

The best place to find me is my Facebook group. That’s WP Mastery on Facebook. If you don’t like Facebook, you can pin me on Twitter, that’s @iamjankoch. And as I said, the agency summit is wpagencysummit.com. And if you just want to experience how I’m running summits, and you’re not interested in the content at all, you might still consider signing up because you then see what the attendee experience is. And if you’re considering running your own summits, you might learn a thing or two on how to do that.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Well, Jan, thanks you so much for coming on the show and best wishes on your summit.

Jan Koch:

Thanks for having me, Chris. It was a blast.

Chris Badgett:

And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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