Jan. 18, 2023

How to Best Build Your Expert Authority with Virtual Summits - BM353

How to Best Build Your Expert Authority with Virtual Summits - BM353

Want to know how to build your expert authority with virtual summits?

Listen as expert summit producer, Ray Brehm shares how hosting a virtual summit is the perfect way to showcase your knowledge and build up that all-important authority!


Want to know how to build your expert authority with virtual summits?

Listen as expert summit producer, Ray Brehm shares how hosting a virtual summit is the perfect way to showcase your knowledge and build up that all-important authority! 

In this powerful episode, you'll discover...

  • Learn how to use virtual summits to build an audience and sell more books.
  • Discover how a virtual summit can generate income and create long-term partnerships.
  • Find out how to get invited to and benefit from virtual summits.

And a whole lot more...

Register for Ray's  Screw the Commute Summit Jan. 23-27 - I'm one of the 20 incredible speakers who will be presenting.


 
 
 

Transcript

Susan Friedmann
 Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week, I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. 

Today, my special guest is Ray Brehm. Ray is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, an audience-building expert, and founder of The Summit Syndicate Program, Profit Masters, and The Co-Author Project. 

Ray, you've been somebody that I have wanted to have as a guest on the show for so long, so it's an absolute pleasure to welcome you officially to the show, and thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
 
 Ray Brehm
Thanks, Susan. You should have told me sooner. I didn't realize you wanted me on this show. I'm happy to be here.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Well, it's good to have you. It really is. Now, you and I were recently on a virtual summit together, and I know you're the guru or one of the gurus of virtual summits out there in the universe, and it's all about building an audience for the long term using virtual summits. But before we sort of dig into that, I would like to start at the very beginning, and I never want to assume that our audience know and understand exactly what a virtual summit is. So let's start with that, and then we'll dig further into how authors can use virtual summits.
 
 Ray Brehm
 A virtual summit is essentially your own online event if you're hosting it, or you might be a guest or a speaker and attendee. The way I look at it, a virtual summit, I like, basically keep as much of the potential for errors out of it as possible. So when I say virtual summit, I'm talking about interviewing a bunch of people and prerecording those interviews and releasing them live in an on-demand setting, I guess you could say. 

 So, for instance, let's say I'm hosting. My very first summit was actually called Book Profit School, and I interviewed 30 people, and I did all the interviews about 90 days prior to the summit. Then I released five or six interviews a day. Actually, if you do the math, it would be six for a day for five days. Right. Typically the attendees get to watch the whole event for free. You can charge for it, but usually, it's free to attend. And you've got access to all the interviews for generally 24, or 48 hours. And then you've also got the option to purchase lifetime access to those interviews. 

 And what's really interesting is I went into it that very first summit from a standpoint of it's going to help me build authority. It's going to help me like a book does. It's going to be another book-type of event for me to build authority with an audience. And it did quite a few other things in the process. 

 So that really piqued my interest and got me going in Summits but I can tell you I had an online business. I had sold a brick-and-mortar business about a year and a half before this first summit and went on to burn through over six figures in cash from that sale, that business, over the next year and a. Half paying for Facebook ads and Facebook agencies and ad agencies and high-end coaching. 

 Trying to build my online business and learning about and deciding to host a virtual summit was kind of one of the last things I had cash to do. I was actually about 30 days before the Summit, realizing I might actually have to go get a job. We hit a wall. We burned through all that cash. I had to kind of put the brakes on them. No more groceries. Don't buy anything. 

 We've got to figure all this out and batten down the hatches. What happened was the Summit actually generated income. It created a huge email list. It connected me with a lot of partners. Like you mentioned, Susan, you and I met on a Summit. And so that really changed my view of Summits and especially how Summits can help people who are just starting out. You'll see that there's experts that have been around for years hosting Summits, and you'll see some really well-done Summits by people who are newbies, at least newbies in the arena of creating an audience. Anyway, that's why I love Summits. Probably.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yeah, it's fabulous. I mean, I know having been a part of Summits, I've never actually organized one of my own. That's maybe something you and I at some point can talk about. I've been on several Summits myself. But let's talk about why you feel that it would be helpful to, let's say, a brand new nonfiction author. Since our audience is primarily nonfiction, let's focus in on nonfiction specifically.
 
 Ray Brehm
 Well, what I love about it, I'll give you some examples from me. I had at the time of that first Summit. I'd published my first book probably four and a half years prior. I was trying to build an email list. I put the typical opt in inside all my books, in the front and the back, and building an email list, and I built it to about 300 emails in about three years. 

 That first summit. I wasn't expecting much. I thought, gosh, if I could make $500 cash, that would buy us groceries this week. If I can get some emails, that would be great. What happened was just kind of blew me away is it generated 2800 emails. Obviously, your results will vary. But I was. Can I get 500? We did $12,126 just in premium Pass sales. That's the people that are buying lifetime access to the interviews. And I made some amazing partnerships that we can talk about that later, but I did a tremendous amount of sales over the next year. 

That my top five speaker affiliates. We can talk about how that all works, but the speakers will promote it to their audiences. Bring people in, people buy premium passes. You will pay them a commission. And we did over. By the time all was said and done, I did the second through five affiliates. We did $56,000 worth of Copromotions for the next year after that First Summit, and then the top affiliate, he and I created a program together, and we did just over $150,000.

That First Summit was worth literally $243,000 and some change. I looked at that and I'm like, oh my gosh. And here I was thinking I was washed up because a lot of my books, you know, the royalties were ten to $20 a month. I had only created 300 emails. But what happened next was really the bigger thing. Obviously, creating partners, creating an email list, those are two different. Either one of those by themselves is a business.

If you can create five great partners from just an event, if you can get a list of 2800 emails that's worth value those emails, you can just promote other people's stuff and start a business that way. But what happened next was I said, oh my gosh, I really feel like I was getting all these emails, and people are like, thank you so much for this. This is great. Oh, I love so and so interview and getting all this engagement via email after the summit was over, the day after. So Monday morning, we ran from Monday to Friday. Then we ran an encore. So we basically re released all the videos for another 48 hours over the weekend. Monday morning, I woke up and I said, that was amazing. And it saved my business. In fact, it told me this might be my calling because I'm pretty good at the tech, I'm pretty good at the marketing, putting together a summit. I should do something here.

But even more important was what happened that next week was I said, I woke up Monday morning and I said, I really feel like I've got some higher level of authority now. I should probably try to sell something else to this new list. And I had some emails on my list already, but I had all this 2800 new emails, and I thought, okay, if I'm going to do something, I should sell my highest priced product. And at the time, it was $1,000 product was this co author project we do. But I had just sold that to my list literally less than 45 days earlier. About 35 days earlier. So I worried. I'm like, I'm just going to send the same thing. It feels odd. But I said, you know what? That's going to be the easiest thing to do. There was no webinar.

All I did was take the five days of emails that I had sent 35 days earlier, plugged them into my autoresponder with this new list, and I had sold three of them at $1,000.35 days earlier. I sold 19 of them, using the exact same five emails that I was afraid people had already seen. Right after the summit, I was getting kind of this feedback, like, Ray, you were way more legit than I thought, because I saw you interviewing all these people, and it's amazing.

And the beauty of it for authors and nonfiction authors in particular, especially if you're starting out, is you don't have to be the expert to be the summit host. You just have to be able to ask questions. You just got to be the expert in being interested in what the other people are saying. So it wasn't like I had to prove and I struggled with this as I was building out that first summit, and now we do this with our clients. It's like, hey, before we even talk about the summit, what's your thing for the week after? Who do we want there? What's your core offer? Who do we want in the audience for that? Who has those people in their audience? Those will be your speakers. And what's the topic?

So then we back into creating that summit. Now, I got lucky on that first one because I just happened to do it. But I struggled with this idea, like, who am I to talk about profiting on the back end of your book? I'm still trying to figure it out. Well, I just hosted the summit and got to ask people questions, and I learned a tremendous amount. One of the hidden benefits of summits, by the way, is you can get free coaching from all the speakers.

You can ask them any questions you want. Right? So you're on there, Susan. I'm interviewing you, which we've got some plans to do multiple summits. I can say, what's your favorite way of marketing a book? I can pick your brain, and I'm doing it for the benefit of my audience. But I'm also learning. I take pages of notes when I do these interviews, and it's fun. It's a great way to do it. But the point is, everybody listening to this can host a summit as soon as possible. It's just a matter of recruiting speakers and so forth. But you don't have to be the expert. You will learn the expert afterwards, but you don't have to be to start with.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 I really like that. It's funny because I was thinking, hey, we're going to be talking about more about getting onto summits and being a speaker on summits. However, actually organizing your own could be the first step to that, building those relationships where then you get asked to be on somebody else's summit. Let's talk a little bit about that first. I know that you've got a big giveaway for our listeners. Let's talk about actually getting on a summit. Now, you've invited me. I've been invited on other summits. How do you get to find out about summits? Is there a directory? How does somebody get to find out the right summit for them and their topic, somebody who is already working with their target audience.
 
 Ray Brehm
 The simple way would be go to your Google and type in your niche space summit and see what other summits are out there that might be running or that have run, and you can track down the hosts and so forth. But you mentioned it. There's some directories, there are some people that will get you gigs on summit. I actually have people approach me and say, can you share your list of summits? I've got a placement service, and you can obviously pay somebody to do that, but I don't think you need to. But we started our own kind of mini directory of the ones that we run or partners that we run with just for that exact reason to get people on summits.

And the beautiful thing is, if you're on the right summit, it's being run right. You'll see, during the summit, if you're a speaker, you will get these leaderboard emails which tells, like, who's making the most clicks or opt-ins and primarily sales, who's sending people there that are buying the premium pass, and you can see who the high performers are, and you get to be seen as well. So I've had people reach out to me that they were my heroes, and they're like, who's this Ray guy? He was in the leaderboard of this summit. As you build that audience, at the very least, it's like this currency to meet other people that you might partner with even outside of summits. And from the flip side is, if you think about it, Susan, if I asked you to be on the summit, you said, Great. I didn't even have to convince you, like, hey, you should try to be on a summit because this is good for you, because it's a game changer.

When you're hosting a summit, it flips the script. So, for instance, if you're listening and you're just starting out, let's say you got your publish your book, hit bestseller, do all that stuff, or you're trying to get somebody to promote your book and you reach out to them, you say, you got 20,000 people in your audience, you want to do a cross promotion. I'll promote your book, you'll promote mine. And it's kind of like I got zero in my audience, but I'm asking you 20,000 to promote my book, basically, right? Because it's not going to do me any good to promote yours. That's an awkward conversation, and that's the first thing people jump to, is like, well, I can't ask these people that I'd really like to have on my summit. Well, guess what? Yes, you can. Because when you host a summit, I don't even care how many people the host has in their audience because they got 20 other people or 30 other speakers with audiences.

For instance, Susan, and let's just say you had zero people in your audience. And you said, Ray, would you be on my summit? I got 20 or 30 other speakers. Well, if each one of them just has 1000 people on their email list, that's 20 to 30,000 people I'll be in front of as a speaker. I'm in it doesn't matter if you've got any in your audience. It's the aggregate audience that's attractive to me as a speaker. So that flips the script and makes it you're almost offering more benefit to the speaker to come on than they're giving you, as opposed to the opposite when you're just reaching out one to one. Let's trade one-on-one. No, hey, let's get you involved here.

We're going to send a lot of people you can give away a gift on there, just like you do with podcasts and so forth to get people on your list. You build authority, people summits, they see you talking. It's easy for people to attend a summit and then find the people they liked hearing their voice, the personality. I'd like to learn more from that person. I'm going to go to their site and so forth. So it's a great way to build relationships with people, and you've got something super valuable to offer speakers to come on your summit and vice versa. So if you're the speaker, yeah, you get invited on a summit, you should if it matches your audience, people you want in your audience, you should pretty much speak at Summits if you can.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yes. No, I absolutely agree with you. I think that's a fabulous way to get exposure, and especially when you're with other people who might be well-known in that particular niche market. Now, what about the costs involved with this? I know that sometimes when I have been on Summits that there is a small fee involved with that. Some of them are free. What are the expectations in terms of investment with this?
 
 Ray Brehm
 So if you're the host, this is what I love about it the most. I've never run an ad. I've never paid for an ad for a summit, and yet I've had put tens of thousands of people on my list from hosting Summits. And so for me, the way I look at it now, and I'm on year four, basically, of summits being a major part of my business is how many Summits can I host, how many can I be on? That's what I look at every given year. So it's like a book, right? You do want your landing page to be pretty and not just kind of you sometimes see these disjointed WordPress sites or things like that. The landing page is the COVID of your book. But most of the people we work with, they'll get something like we like Kartra for summits.

 But you can use anything that's $97 a month. And we've got some clients that will just grab that for a couple of months just to host the summit and be done with it. But you don't have to pay for ads. You're getting all your audiences coming from all the other speakers audiences. Even if you don't have an audience, you're going to end up with one afterwards. You don't have to pay for ads. You certainly can. If you're good at it, then do it. But why I love Summits is I don't want to have to be good at ads. I like marketing, I like writing copy, but I don't like figuring out the ads and a B testing and all this stuff. I don't want to do that. And the thing about ads is there's a place for that in your business, certainly, but that's colder traffic when you come on. For instance, if you host a summit, Susan, and you say, hey, raise my speaker on my summit, and when I send an email to my audience say, hey, I'm on Susan's Book, Marketing and Publishing Summit, guess what?

The people that are going to opt into your summit and now join your list, they're the best people from my list. They're the ones that read my emails. They trust what I say. They're going to join and check out the summit. I've got a lot of people on my list that enroll in every summit and watch a lot of interviews. That's the same for most of the people you're going to have as speakers. You're going to get their best. So it's kind of like cherry picking the best audiences from all the speakers. That's who you're going to get on your summit. You're not paying for it. If I pay for cartridge, maybe if I did one month or two, that's a couple of $100. But certainly you can host a summit using Vimeo or YouTube as the videos. You use a free, like a mail or light. You literally could run a summit free as well. And then certainly even cartridge, that's not a very big expense to run a really professional-looking summit.

The cost outlay is minimal. It's a time outlay as far as doing the interviews and putting the emails together, copy together, things like that. But then you've got this asset, too, by the way, that you can sell on into the future, and you didn't have to create it yourself. You crowd-sourced, in a sense, this product. So I could say, hey, buy the premium pass by the premium pass, they buy it. The summit ends great. Well, month later, I can just put it up on my site like, hey, get a copy of the Book, Marketing and Publishing Summit, right? You can throw bonuses if you've got other courses, or you can get the other speakers to give bonus courses. You can create this amazing stack of products and courses and books or whatever as part of your premium pass and sell it, and it just sells itself. You don't have to get on the phone like, hey, do you want to buy? You want to buy no, all the emails and the web pages, they sell it for you. A lot of people do stick. One year we went to Disneyland in California.

We budgeted enough for like, two tickets or we were going to go two days. And we were there for like five days. We got there in late afternoon and we said, okay, so we could go tomorrow and we'll go Thursday, we'll skip Wednesday. The kids were young, they needed naps, all this stuff, playing it. And I looked at the pricing and I said, yeah, my gosh, those tickets are so high price, but if you just jump up to the season pass, it was going to cost us like $300 more just to get a season pass for all year. Like, why don't we just get that? We can drive out one more time, it'll be worth it. We bought the season pass and then we said, well, we might as well just go in the park right now and go in for 2 hours. That very first day we got there, and we went in every day. But we didn't stress about going 8 hours or 10 hours every day and maxing out our money. We had an annual pass and we made it was worth it within two or three days. That's how people look at this. They're like, you know what? I like these first couple of interviews. I'm just going to buy the pass.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yeah, I need access to this. Yeah, I've never even thought of it in that way. And you're right, looking at a season pass, we've done that for some places that we've been to, because you're absolutely right. Then you don't have to stress about when you can come and when you can't come and having to maximize I mean, I remember with the kids once when we took them to Disneyland, you tried to cram everything in the one day, and by the end of it, everybody's cranky.
 
 Ray Brehm
 It's stressful.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 It's very stressful.
 
 Ray Brehm
 You got to figure out the fast past secrets and all that stuff.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Is there an optimum number of people? You mentioned earlier, 30 people on a summit? That seems like a lot. I've been on Summits where there have been 20, but not 30. Is there an optimum number or is it like the sky's the limit almost.
 
 Ray Brehm
 Well, you've got your people. The more is better. I'll pay for that type of people. 30, I would say it's too many. I ran a second edition of that very first summit, added 15. I had 45 on there, and I looked at that and I'm like, if I'm attending this, I look at the sheer number of interviews and I give up. So generally, even for myself, 18 to 20 is ideal because then people can consume it and they're not going to just bail whether they're free or buying the premium pass. If there's 45, I might not even buy the premium pass because I'll never get to all those. But if there's 20, yeah, I can do that, especially if there's one or two that really resonated with me and had some great information that I'm going to want to look back on. Yeah, I'll do that. So I prefer 20. And if you do it over five days and that's four a day, that's doable. I try to keep my interviews to 20 to 25 minutes because I've had some that very first one, I had like, two or three that went over an hour. I'm basically giving people 30 hours of stuff to try to get through in a week. They don't get time for that. So we generally will recommend, especially somebody's first summit, just target 18 to 20. And most people will be like, well, I don't know if I can get 18. And by the time they're done, they're like, okay, I ended up with 25 or 30. Because all you have to do is you get a few people, get your low hanging fruit, people you might know that will be great content providers for your summit. And then at the end of the interview, ask them, do they know anyone else that might be good? You start doing that, and before you know it, you get your summit full, and then you're starting to feel for the next one.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Yeah, no, that's incredible. Well, I know that we've got to have you back to talk about more, because I've got a whole list of questions, and we could go on and on because this is so fascinating and so many people are doing it and yet understanding the psychology behind it, which you really tapped into, which I really appreciate. Ray, how do our audience get hold of you? I know you've got a free gift for them. Take it away.
 
 Ray Brehm
 Sure. I've got a masterclass called Virtual Summits for Authors. We've got a free coupon for you if you just go to Raybmesan, get you hooked up. You can take that. That should give you the confidence one in case I missed any of the benefits. There's so many, really. My first mentor, he said to me and this was literally like six months before my first summit, I said, hey, if you were starting all over, what would you do? I was doing an interview with him, and he said, I would host a virtual summit. And I'm like, cool. That's great advice. And then I got off the interview and I'm like, what the heck is a virtual summit? But then I did one and I'm like, oh, my God. He was right. That course will share the benefits. It will share why you can do it, and you don't have to wait for some phantom level of success before you can host a summit. And in fact, sometimes people use that to launch their books. They'll host a summit and their book will come out a week too late. Something you could think about and then how you do it. And in that course, too, we talk about, hey, here's the premium way to do it, here's the free way to do it. Here's the middle, the good, better, and best ways to do it. You don't have to even spend any money to do it, and you just kind of like talking to people. But it's one of these things that it works extremely well for experienced business owners. It works even better if you're new, because you can catapult create a huge list really quickly. You can create great relationships with the speakers really quickly, and you can produce income. It's an income creating event. So you can check that out. Rabi Susan, get a free copy of that. That's awesome. But I would say, yeah, it's just remember, to me, this is the best tool for somebody starting out. Experienced entrepreneurs that have business online for five or ten years, yeah, they may have all these other things going. It's still good for them. I still have a lot of experienced people that I partner with on Summits because they're like, they know the value of getting those emails, they know the value of connecting with other influencers. But when you're starting out, it gives you incredible gains really quickly.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 And that's got to be music to our listeners ears, Ray. It really is to mind, just hearing that. And I'm like all these authors who are like, how can I launch my book? This is a great way to do that. So listeners, get a hold of that course. Also, listen to this episode again, because Ray has given you such wisdom. But I'm not letting you off the hook yet, Ray, because, as you know, we always end up with a golden nugget. So if you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what would that be?
 
 Ray Brehm
 Well, the golden nugget I live by is get to your second try as soon as possible on anything. Right? If you think about it, if you're doing a book, get that first book done. You're like, okay, I could do that much faster, much easier, more efficient the next time. Anything you do, 80% of the learning curve is in that first try. Same with the summit. If you can host a ten person summit, do it. You'll learn so much, and it applies to anything you do. Get to that second try as soon as possible.
 
 Susan Friedmann
 Get to that second try. I love it because sometimes we give up the first time around because it was like, so much work. But yeah, you learn by doing so. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, Ray. This has been amazing and a subject that we really haven't spent much time talking about. So again, this makes it even more special.

And by the way, listeners, if your book isn't selling the way you wanted or expected to, let you and I jump on a quick call. Together to brainstorm ways you can ramp up those sales. And of course, we're going to start including these virtual summits. You've invested a whole lot of time, money and energy, and it's time you got the return that you were hoping for. So go to brainstormwithsusan.com and schedule your free call. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this powerful interview and that it sparked some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's wishing you much book and author marketing success.

Register for Ray's  Screw the Commute Summit Jan. 23-27 - I'm one of the 20 incredible speakers who will be presenting.