How To Build A Summit That’s Worth The Work with Krista Miller


Diane: hey, Hey, this week's guest is Krista Miller, founder of summit in a box. She helps entrepreneurs three X, their monthly revenue through virtual summits and focuses on connection, collaboration and making a difference. I'm always excited to talk through strategies that create more impact than the effort that they take and that focus on relationships as marketing. So let's dive in. Hey, Krista, welcome to the show. Krista: Thank you so much for having me. I'm pumped to chat with you about this. Diane: yes. I'm excited to find out all about summits, cause I've never hosted one myself and I'm interested to see whether or not I should, but before we dive in, let's talk a little bit about your business and how it's evolved with you and your lifestyle. Krista: Yeah. So I started my first business in 2015 and I was actually doing a WordPress development. And at the time I had a full-time job doing website development. So it was kind of a natural transition to start my own business, doing something similar. And it was literally just like, I am so desperate to get out of this job. I will do whatever it takes. So my goal was to build up that business to literally all I needed was $1,500 a month and I could quit my job. And we got there in about six months. I was able to quit and just focus on my business, which was so, so wonderful and freeing and, Oh my goodness. So rewarding. But after a couple years, I got to the point where I was like, okay, this is cool. Like I'm getting clients when I need them. But now what, like, this is almost too comfortable for me. I want something else to work towards. And I was trying to figure out what that was. I knew I wanted to, to find more people to be connected with. And I was in Facebook groups and they're all the cool kids that knew each other. And I was like, I want to know them. And you know, one and more clients wanted a bit more money and all that good stuff. And eventually a virtual summit is what ended up. Being my solution. And I had pushed that off for so long because at the time someones were a little bit newer and it was a lot of the super huge bro marketer, business owners running them. So number one, they were disgusting and just gross. And number two, I was like, I can't, it was a summit. I have less than 500 people on my email list. Like who the heck am I to do that? But I decided to just give it a try. Anyway, I decided to do it my way from my people didn't have to be gross and we would just see what happened. And my goal was to make like two or $3,000. I didn't have a huge goal. But my primary goal was that visibility aspect, where I was making those new connections, making sure that people knew, like when, when a designer needs WordPress development, they go to Krista. So I launched that summit and 2018 and instead of $2,000, I ended up with $16,000. And for me, he was making like $3,000 a month. I was like, What is this what's happening right now? Is this broken tripled my email list and did make those connections because I treated my speakers like the superstars they are and those connections just continued to pass and they still pay off years and years later. So after that first time, I didn't really plan. To do anything with someone. So I was like, okay, that was awesome. I'm going to, I'm going to do that again in six months. Cause nothing I'd ever done match that. But over the course of those six months, my speakers and attendees kept messaging me, emailing me and asking how, how do I do that? Can you show me how to host a summit like that? I was like, no, that was a lot of work. Like. Not going to show you how to do that. Cause I had figured it all out myself. I had no resources. So for me thinking back on it, I was like, heck no, my teacher knew that. But they wore me down obviously, cause we're here. So I started summit in a box in 2018 and that's where we are today. So I have a program with all kinds of resources to make hosting a summit, easy, a podcast, all, all that good stuff. So my world revolves around virtual science. Diane: I'm fairly sure that I bought some at, in a box. In 2018 seeing it and thinking, Oh, this is so often I'll see a resource and think, Oh, that's something I want to do. I'm going to follow that over here. And here we are two years later. And for me, every time I think about hosting a summit, I think, that feels like it's going to be that ton of work that you talk about from pulling it together from the lead side, from pulling it together from the speakers side, making it look professional. So for me, it has to have huge impact to warrant that amount of work. Now, am I overestimating the amount of work and am I underestimating the amount of impact? Krista: I love this question. So let's start with the work side first. If you're someone who goes about trying new things. With the total DIY route. You're not underestimating a lot of work. That first summit I hosted probably took me. I estimate it took me between four and 500 hours for me to figure that out. I had no resources. I didn't know any proven strategies. I was making everything up on my own. That's a lot of work. If you're someone who's willing to, you know, go find the templates, find the resources, whether it's from me or another summit person out there. That's when that level of work goes down so much further because you don't have to figure it all out. You have, when you're ready to make your registration page, grab someone else's template, slap it on your website. Cool. When you're ready to write your promotional emails, grab someone's template, you know, like everything is laid out step by step, and that's where it gets easier. I would estimate first time summit hosts who do have the resources, probably it will probably take about a hundred hours. Then after that it gets so much easier. I think my last summit I spent between 40 and 60 hours on something that made me $60,000 a year. And booked out my services for six months. So the first one is more work, especially if you don't have resources. And then after that it's like rinse and repeat, basically all you have to redo is finding and onboarding your speakers and it gets so much easier. And as for the level of return, I will say, I've seen already she's on the spectrum for this, from people who brought in, maybe they didn't get their audience quite right. They didn't get their topic quite right. They didn't pick the right speakers, bring in a couple thousand dollars, but I've also seen people bring over in over a hundred thousand dollars by getting these strategies. Right. So my last couple of segments have brought, brought in $60,000. The one I hosted for my service based business booked me out for six months in advance. I did not have to worry about getting clients. Our most recent summit led me to my biggest course launch yet for this business. So for me, the impact is so worth it. And when you get some key components, right, but I'm happy to break down. The impact is just incredible. Whether that impact for you is the money leads, those connections, having an incredible experience for your audience. Like all of those things come into play. As some of the return you see for most. Diane: And so as a service-based person, then technically you could do this twice a year. So 200 hours of work that then books you out for the year versus lead chasing and sales. And I guess a slightly once, I guess once it works once, you know, it will work again. Is there much tweaking in summits? Krista: Yeah. So with us, you can always like, look at your registration page conversion rate. If you're selling that all access pass, which I recommend look at that conversion rate. But once you have it figured out that first time, like, honestly, I don't make a whole lot of changes to any of my pages between my stomach. So it does get so much easier. I'm the type of person where I love experimenting. I love trying new things. So I make more work for myself. Like for this last time, when I mentioned the 40 to 60 hours, We made worksheets and note sheets for every single presentation, which means we had to read through the transcripts, edit the transcripts, make all this fancy stuff. Like I make more work for myself. You can do it the easy way, you know, make sure your conversion rates look to good that first time. And then just like, let it ride after that. Diane: How much of it is if you're doing it the first time and you're still figuring out if it'll work. Maybe you don't want to spend a whole bunch of money. Is that hundred hours just your time, or is that a hundred hours plus a team? Krista: that's a good question. So my last one that had between 40 and 60 hours of my time, I also had a team. I think my VA maybe spent 20 hours on it, and then I had a designer. How much did she spend maybe six ish hours. That first summit I hosted, I, it was all me by myself. And I mean, that's a great question, too. You can outsource nothing. You can outsource almost everything, you know, and especially in the later summits, what all you're really doing is finding an onboarding speakers, make the process for it, with your first summit and I, our next summit, let someone else take care of it, you know? So I've, again, all ranges of the spectrum work for that. Diane: Okay. So what is the most efficient way to pull a summit together? So I'm all about, what's the biggest bang for my time back. If I'm going to spend a hundred hours, I want something that is slick. How do I do that without driving myself crazy. Krista: An awesome question. So, I mean, I would say find the resources and templates, so you're not having to figure stuff out by yourself so you can have like, you know, you onboard your, or get your first speaker. You can go, okay. Step by step, what do I need to do to get this person ready? And you don't have to figure it out by yourself or end up a week or two down the road and be like, dang it. I forgot to ask him for this piece of information. Now I need to go back. There's just so much stuff like that. So having those resources can be really helpful. And you know, for anyone listening, who doesn't have a team right now, When you're hosting a summit, it's a great time to bring on someone at least temporarily, because when you bring on say 15, 20, maybe even 30 speakers, there are things you're doing 15, 20, even 30 times, you get to do it once per speaker. So that's just the best opportunity to record yourself doing it the first time and say, okay, write a process for this and go ahead and do it for the rest of them. That's the biggest thing that drives me crazy is I hate like repeating stuff like that. So if you can get those kinds of things off your plate, That's amazing. Another big one is to consider a prerecorded summit rather than a live event, because lot of funds are awesome. Like you can't match the engagement and excitement and everything that happens with the live event, but also that's where. You might drive yourself crazy with having to wonder, are these speakers going to show up in time? What happens if this tech works? I literally can't leave my computer today because everything's happening live where if it's prerecorded cool. Let it up to Vimeo or wherever you host your videos, put it on your website. Schedule pages to go live. When they're supposed to boom, you can check in a few times a day, have someone else check in a few times a day for you. And it just relieves so much stress from everybody. I would say that's another big one. Diane: I have to say, there isn't even a part of me that had considered like a live events. Like to me, that's almost such a separate animal. Contingency planning is like my nerds zone. And when I think live events I can do, I'm just like listing mentally, all the things that I would have to think about versus like the amounts of time buffer you could give yourself, I guess, with, with prerecorded. So I have to say I hadn't even considered that, so. Okay, good. Okay. Now what about for people who have maybe. Hosted a small summit and they didn't get the results that you are sort of seeing what is the secret sauce that they can pretty easily add in that will make the biggest difference to their next summit. Krista: love that. Okay. I have three things and the first two, I'll just script together, look at who you're hosting your summit for and what you're hosting and about. So we see a lot of summits out there for things like. Grow your online business. Make more freedom in your creative business. Be a happier mom, like things like that. They don't work. I'm just going to come on and say it, those things don't work, especially if you're not already a huge influencer. And even the huge influencers don't do the results they could have seen otherwise. And I know that because I've worked with a couple of them and afterwards I'm like, I wish he would have listened to me, but they don't because they're influencers. So they just listen to themselves. I love them anyways. So look at who you hosted your time at four and what you hosted about, you need to get so specific with both of those things. So for your audience, For your summit, it could be different than the audience for your business. So if you target online business owners, creative business owner, women, things like that. That's when you need to get more specific. And that doesn't mean you're going to find a new audience. It means you're looking at your audience for your business. And you're kind of breaking it down into subsets, like who is my audience made up of which of those people do I resonate with? Who responds best to my offers and pick those people out to give you an example of that for some in the box, I pretty much target all online entrepreneurs out there. And I was going to, I hosted a summit back in September. I knew I couldn't host a summit for entrepreneurs that straight up wasn't going to work. And as much as it freaked me out, I instead hosted a summit for course, creators. So that was a subset of my audience and it worked so much better than it would have if I would have hosted a summit for all entrepreneurs. So if you have a wider audience, See how you can narrow it in if your summit didn't work the first time and that's the first place I'd look, then it comes to your topic. So we see a lot of summit topics out there that are vague. Like I said before, a grow your business, have a better life, again, not going to work. So figure out that narrow audience, and then this becomes easier because then you're going to say, what are these people struggling with and drill down. So if they are struggling with growing their business, okay, what are they really struggling with? That's causing them to not be able to grow their business. there's layers. You can pull back there. So for example, the summit I host for designers, you know, I knew they were having kind of trouble growing their businesses, things like that, but I didn't know. What does that mean? So I got on calls with a few of them and found out that they weren't growing their business because they honestly didn't have time to. They were so busy working on client work, that they were never able to work on their business. They didn't have systems in place, like things were just a mess. So my soundbite, I ended up being about helping them, simplify their business, to make it more efficient and profitable. So much more specific than just growing your business. So those are the first two places I'd look and narrow in there. If you can, the next place I would look then is your speakers. So when you get specific with your seminar audience, it's really important that your speakers have that exact same audience. So for my summit, for designers, I'm not looking for speakers who target creative business owners. I'm looking for speakers who target designers. Even though those designers do consider themselves creatives because those are the speakers who want to share about this event, who will get good affiliate commission. You know, the first time I share and then decide, they're going to keep sharing. They have more value to provide to these people. It works better for everybody. Like everyone wins when you get the right speakers. So rather than just pitching the first speakers that come to mind, all your buddies, things like that, really look for people who has the exact same audience at this time. It has. And go with those people. And it took me for so much to figure that out And I didn't even do it purposely, but afterwards, you know, I was sorting my speakers by affiliate commission and I was like, okay, why did I pay this speaker $6,000 in this one, like a hundred, you know, what's the difference. And I noticed that the speakers at the top of the speakers, I paid a thousand dollars and more all had. An audience of designers and everyone else was creative and it was like a light bulb went off. Holy smokes. So the next summit, that's all I changed was making sure I had all speakers who are designers. I went from $22,000 to $60,000 just because of that one change. So that's another really big one. Once you have the audience and topic down. Diane: I guess a lot of people think the wider I go, the more people I can attract into my email list, instead of thinking, actually the more niche I go, the more I can convert, which is ultimately, hopefully what's happening off the back end of your summit. So if we stay with that example of designers, now say I'm a business coach for designers. How do I have my summits? Without solving their problem. And therefore they're not needing my product because if we're super niche on their problem and we're trying to solve their problem with our summit, how do you do that transition into then selling them something that solves their problem? Krista: Yeah, I love that. So, I mean the, the surface level answer, I'll say first is basically, no matter how specific your summit days. 20 half hour presentations are never going to be able to touch what you can do either one-on-one or in a paid program you offer. So one of my summits is to help designers, simplify, streamline, you know, make their businesses more efficient. The services I offer for that business are offering web development services for about designers. So I am also in a way making their business more streamlined and efficient. So it does translate for the summit. I hosted about summits. We hosted a Semite teaching course creators to reach their biggest course on chat through a virtual town. So all of our presentations were about either summits or, you know, launching a course, but at the end they're still like, well, Wait, that sounds awesome. But now I want this to be easy and I want your program. So it was a very natural transition. Like I think it makes it even more natural that it was so closely related. And I had people before I even launched. Like, I need to give you my money now, please open your cart so I can give you this. So it works when you give them step one, they want the rest of those stuff. Diane: Yeah, I think it's like that free content thing. Right? You can give away everything, but someone is still going to pay you to help them implement it, or for the convenience of having it put in order for them, like, what's, you can have a summit with 30 people and that could be all the 30 steps, but if I'm starting, I'm like, I don't know which piece goes where and how it fits together. Krista: Yes. Diane: That makes a lot of sense. Okay. I'm coming around to the idea I'm coming around dead yet. It's still feels I'll put it on my 20, 21 things to think about list, which is rapidly growing at the moment. So if you had like one. Piece of advice or one nugget that you could say to someone who's like me who's teetering was like the sound's great to results sound amazing, but I'm not sure what would be the thing that you would say that would knock them onto the side of, yes. I'm going to do a summit in 2021. Krista: That's a good question. And you see, I'm like not someone who wants to like push everyone to summit. Like I want it to feel good because that, especially that first one, it takes work. So I want it to feel good for you. So what I always look at is like, what are you doing right now in your business to grow it? And compare that to the results you want and then the results of summit could bring you. So for me, for some in a box, I can either host, you know, I could host several challenges per year. Do do a whole bunch of live launching work with the affiliates all year round, or I could do two summits. And call it. Good. so I guess I would look at that also consider though your preferences. Do you like the sound of bringing in other experts and making this collaborative thing, or would you rather do things by yourself? And I know I'm not like sitting here hardcore convincing someone, but I want you to like weigh both sides of things and honestly think about what's going to be the best for you. If you like the sound of launching less. You know, putting in that extra work the first time, and then knowing it gets easier later, a summit is such a powerful thing to do, because like I said, not only is it going to bring you that money through the summit, but it's a perfect way to set up a launch of your products or services. It's a way to. You know, multiply your email list several times over make industry connections that you can then go and do podcasts interviews with do JV webinars with if you still want to have awesome friends in the industry and then build so much trust with your audience. And then like keep getting those emails that are like, you literally changed my life through this thing that you did. that's what it's all about for me. So, you know, I would say if that all sounds good to you, maybe consider, give it a try, dig into a little bit more and see if it does end up feeling good. Diane: I love that you said I'm not going to try and convince you because I am so anti, like you have to do it my way when, when people are speaking. So I love that kind of let's think about, does this feel good to me? Like if you are super introverted and you don't particularly like. Showing up on camera or talking to a bunch of people or having to network to find all of your speakers. This is it's going to be a hundred hours of it feeling really hard probably for me, because I loved the connection and the networking. And I already do compilation things on my podcast. That piece of it is pretty easy for me. So the a hundred dollars might feel completely different for me than for someone else. Krista: Yeah, that is so true. So true. And I am super introverted. That first summit was really uncomfortable, but it also gets easier. So any of my introverts who are kind of excited, just know that you get used to it. Diane: Yeah. Yeah. But for those results it's worth Krista: Yes. I'll take it. Diane: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So tell me about how do people get hold of summit in a box? How do they get all these templates? How do they make this easier for themselves the first time? Krista: Yeah. So you guys can check out my I would say check out our podcasts and our freebies first. That's like the best place to start to make sure that you resonate with the way I do summits, because I'm not going to do. Like the bro marketing heavy, crazy summits. I want to make sure everyone resonates with the way I do things that you like, the connection. And you can , start there. Uh, freebie that's a good one to start with is our virtual summit. The funnel roadmap. And that's basically gonna lead you through walking through the six stages from bringing someone into the summit. To then getting them a free semi ticket to eventually converting them to your product or service. It'll kind of help you map out the steps, which will help you visualize the process as a whole and kind of what it, what it can do for your business. And that's at Simon, a backstep co slash roadmap. Diane: So while you were talking, I thought of one thing, how far out am I thinking about this summit? When I'm thinking of those 100 hours, am I doing those 100 hours in the next month? Am I planning the six months out? You know, if someone's got really excited and they're like, I'm going all in on summits, how soon can they host one and one that works right? Krista: Yes. So I've had students jump in and do it in a cup in a few weeks and they like give me heart attacks. I ask you to give yourself at least 90 days, if you can give yourself 120 days, that's even better because it's just more space for you. And if something comes up, maybe you get stuck on figuring out that audience. And you want to give yourself a little time to brainstorm. Cool. There's no pressure. Give yourself a few days to think about it. So 90 to 120 days, it's not you going hard that whole time. A lot of it in the middle is actually you waiting for speakers to get you presentations and giving them all the time they need. But that will just give you so much breathing room. Diane: And then you've mentioned a couple of times that you don't do this, the bro market away. I have a personal pet peeve of the bro market's at, but I would love to just push you a little to explain. What you do differently from the bro marketing world? Because I imagine if people are listening to this and they haven't really thought about summits before, they're going to start diving into a bunch of resources from a bunch of people out there. And I'd love them to know what to listen for. That is going to give their summit, that X factor. Krista: I love that because there's a lot of silent people who teach summit. So I'm like, ah, don't do it. So yeah, a lot. If you allow someone to sign up for, you're going to sign up and immediately you'll feel it you'll feel it because you're immediately going to start getting pitched. And that very first email it's going to feel slimy, delivered a read in the sales copy that this is all like sales, psychology stuff. Like they're going hard to convince you that you you're going to need something. They have it for you. Like. They are bringing you the ultimate solution of other things, which is cool. Like we do want to bring that solution, but we also. Want to be genuine about it. So the way I approach my summit is the first thing I'm going to think about is how am I going to make an incredible experience for my attendees? And your episode you did with the solar. That's an awesome place for people to go to learn, to create an amazing customer experience, so what am I going to do to make an awesome experience for my attendees and what am I going to do to make this a great experience in super easy for my speakers? Because when you can love on those two sets of people, Your genuine care for them is just going to show up all over the place. And that's going to make them want to be in your world to give you their money. When you have an offer that resonates with them, it's just going to feel so much better for everyone involved versus a summit, where from the very beginning, it's like, boom, you need this thing by this thing, I'm sitting here convincing you. Hardcore. It just doesn't feel good to anyone. So rather than the constant pitch focus on like the constant connection first, and you can go in for the pitch and it's the right time. Diane: I think one of the, one of the questions I always wait for. If I'm being pitched to be involved in something, is what's your list size? You can be a speaker if your list is above 5,000 or whatever it is. I don't mind being asked that in the application process, but when you get that like bold heading, like you can only participate. If that, for me is always the red flag and I think is always why I've kind of reversed away from summits as a speaker, because. you're not in it for your people. You just want my audience, Krista: the list grammar Diane: Right. You just care that I have enough people who might opt in and pay you money. Krista: Oh, my goodness. Yeah. That's like the huge red gross macro their flag when it comes to summit pitches. Oh my goodness. I hate those so much. And I used to be someone who I didn't have, you know, the big enough audience to be included in those. And I always just felt so bad and, Oh, that's so crappy. But now I do have that audience and I'm like, get outta here. Like, if you're requiring this of me, what do you have, please share your list size with me. You know, how many leads will I get from it? How many times, you know, it's just, it's terrible. So don't do that. Diane: I always chuckle when I get off my Instagram following because I go and check their Instagram following. if that's a prerequisite for me, why is it not. Prerequisite for you, you know? Those kind of marketing factors around the pitch and around the copy that they're using on their summit is how we identify hate. This is probably not going to feel great for us. It's not going to feel great for our people. It's not relationship focused. Would you say your yours is more relationship focused? Krista: Oh, totally. If, if I just feel like if there's no relationships built in your summit, it's not even, it's not even worth it. Your speakers, aren't going to care. They're not going to promote. If you haven't focused on a relationship with them and your attendees might still be, you know, mildly excited during the event, but it's not going to be anything near what it is. If you're in a community, engaging with these people, genuinely caring about them, making sure they can get these results or at least step one of the results. Like it doesn't matter. It ends with the Senate. They don't really care to continue that relationship afterwards. Diane: That is so helpful and such a good reframe of what we've seen in the summit space in the past. So I always like to finish up with a couple of questions that I ask all my guests. The first one is what is the number one lifestyle boundary that you have for your business? Krista: Yeah. So I didn't always have this boundary, but one that is really important to me now is I will never say yes to something that's going to. Cause my family to pay for it later. So if it's something where I'm going to have to be working nights and super stressed out, or if I'm going to have to work a weekend that I'm not super excited about and be stressed out, meaning they get to feel that stress and pay for that and deal with my badge attitude. I'm not going to do it so that doesn't apply so much to my product based business. I'm in a box, but for my development business that I still have going on that can apply for client projects all the time. If I have a client who does not respect the boundaries, my turnaround time with responses, office hours, it's not going to happen. So I would say that is my biggest boundary. Diane: I liked that one a lot. So finally, what is the worst piece of cookie cutter advice you've got as a entrepreneur in your journey? Or someone said to you, and you've just gotten that. So does not apply to me. Krista: So for me, the biggest piece of advice I got in felon early on was that you had to create a course to have a successful business. And now some of the box, that's what I do. I have a course that works. It's amazing, but for my development business, Oh, my goodness. How many hours and months did I spend trying to make this digital product or all of these digital products that just didn't work? They just want to fit it. Just what it wasn't for that business. That's not what that business was built to do. And I would just say like the pressure that at least was there at that time, maybe it's still there to have a digital product. For service-based business, just because you have to, you have to have that extra steep stream of income is probably the worst advice I've gotten and followed just because it adds so much pressure. You're trying to get clients and grow this business and do your client work. You don't also have to be worrying about like, what the heck am I going to make? If something comes naturally cool. But if it's not there, man, like it gets tough. Diane: especially in that kind of web space where everything is changing, like every two minutes and. People who are trying to learn to DIY at themselves have usually never touched anything before, because once you've DIY website, you never ever want to do it again. So I think that's so valid. I think so many people are feeling really pressured by this passive income. Rhetoric that's out there at the moment and yes, once it's built, it may feel passive, but that's not taking into account probably the amounts of time you spent when you, weren't working, thinking about the thing, worrying about the things, stressing about the thing. So it's all of that investment that you have to consider as well. Krista: Yes. Diane: That was awesome. Thank you so much for coming on and helping me understand where summits fit in to lifestyle businesses. It was always a area where I felt like I couldn't really see the balance of the work and the impact. So this has been super duper helpful. Thank you so much. Krista: Thank you for having me.

Summits seem to be to 2021 what webinars were to 2020 so is this simply another trend you can ignore or are they all they are hyped up to be?

Krista Miller, walks you through how summits really work, the work involved and the rewards you can expect. And whether or not you should be hosting one in 2021.

Key Takeaway

Summits are great at both list building and conversions but only if you narrow your focus drastically.

We talk about

  • How much work is a summit really?
  • When is it worth it?
  • How to get started the easier way
  • Krista’s lifestyle boundary for her business
  • The worst cookie-cutter advice Krista’s been given on her lifestyle business

About Krista

At Summit In A Box, Krista helps entrepreneurs 3x their monthly revenue through virtual summits without wondering where to start or what to do next. Her method is focused on strong connections, collaboration, and making a difference in the lives of everyone involved. The best part? She makes it easy! With every strategy, copy template, website template, script, tech tutorial, and resources you'd ever need, your summit prep just got a whole lot easier!

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