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Chris Mercer How to Create a Successful Virtual Summit
The Agents

 

Are you considering putting on a virtual event? Are you looking for ways to build your audience, your credibility, and your business? In this episode of The Agents of Change, Rich Brooks engages Chris Mercer, a renowned expert in digital analytics and co-founder of MeasurementMarketing.io.

Mercer returns for the third time to share his invaluable insights. This time, he delves into the intricate world of creating successful virtual summits, drawing from his extensive experience and the success of Measure Summit. Listeners can expect to unravel the secrets behind organizing impactful virtual events and learn how Mercer’s strategies have led to astonishing attendee numbers and community engagement.

How to Create a Successful Virtual Summit Episode Summary

Key Takeaways

  • Mercer’s approach to creating virtual summits is focused on community service first, with revenue generation as a secondary goal.
  • The effectiveness of using pre-recorded sessions to avoid technical glitches and maintain momentum during virtual events.
  • The strategy of leveraging existing professional networks and engaging speakers for event promotion.
  • The importance of adapting the event’s format to suit the virtual environment instead of replicating live event structures.
  • The potential of virtual events to not only engage existing audiences but also to build and nurture new communities.

How to Create a Successful Virtual Summit Episode Transcript

Rich: Sure, I’ve got a bio for our next guest, likely the same one or a variation of it that I read the first two times he came on the show. He was the guy who came on here to talk about Google Analytics. And when I questioned if anybody could actually make Google Analytics interesting on a podcast, he proved that at least one person could do it.

And then the second time when he came on to talk about GA4, which so many marketers were struggling to wrap their heads around, he made it so damn clear you had to wear sunglasses.

But now he’s spoken at the Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference. He crushed his presentation and kept people engaged, even at the end of nine hours of marketing content. And he doubled down the next day and kept the whole room engaged when he ran a three-hour GA4 workshop that I was attending, and even over by 30 or 40 minutes. I finally had to take out the big hook. He had so much great content to share.

It was actually one of those late-night gatherings that often happen at conferences where the speakers kick back after a day of presenting and just enjoy each other’s company, where the topic for this episode came into focus. I mentioned to our guest that I was considering a virtual summit, and he told me I couldn’t do one until I talked to him about how he puts his own on. And he did. And I was impressed and asked him to come on the podcast for a third time and share his approach to creating a virtual summit.

Now his summit is in service of the business he co-founded, MeasurementMarketing.io. I would call this company one of the premier companies in analytics and helping marketers understand and act on their analytics. They offer a suite of products and classes, and I put all the marketers here at flyte through his classes so they can turn around and help our clients.

He has a huge fan base here at flyte new media from the Agents of Change attendees this year and across the country. In addition to co-hosting Measure Summit, the largest event in the world dedicated to digital measurement, he can be found speaking at conferences, events such as Traffic Conversion, Social Media Marketing World, and of course the Agents of Change. And today we are diving into putting on your own virtual summits with none other than Chris Mercer. Mercer!

Mercer: How are you? I love that. That was like the best intro I think I’ve ever had. That’s fantastic.

Rich: Well, I got the one off your website and I’m like, I don’t need to just regurgitate the same thing that I’ve said already twice before.

Mercer: Got to spread that ‘Rich magic’ on it. Yes. That was perfect, thank you for that. Pleasure to be here.

Rich: And I was able to use the word ‘Mercer’ three times in a row without it being uncomfortable. It was Chris Mercer. Mercer. Mercer. How you doing? So there you go.

Mercer: Works out well.

Rich: All right. So I am excited about this. I do think that there’s a lot of opportunities for businesses, our listeners, to be putting on their own virtual summits. And you showed me some behind the scenes stuff. So I just want to talk through with you today.

Let’s just start with the why. Why did you decide to put on a summit? What were the goals for you and for measurement marketing?

Mercer: Yeah great question. So first and foremost, this started with an opportunity. There’s a co-brand. So we have the measuremarketing.io brand. We have the Measurement Marketing Academy. But there was another very popular brand that teaches some analytic stuff, it’s called Measure School. A great guy, Julian, runs that. And as with all the instructors that are in this field, you get to know each other.

And so Julian and I had known each other for a little while and we had a couple of conversations just to touch base. “Hey, how’s business? What’s going on?” The latest thing, how are we training this thing or that thing or whatever. And it came to us where it’s right around COVID, when COVID happens. So we already had this relationship and COVID happens. It was like, “Listen, there used to be a live event called – it actually still is a live event – called Measure Camp. All of the measurement conferences were just gone, because all conferences were gone. You couldn’t travel anywhere around the world.

And so the thinking was, listen, is there a way for us to do two things? One, maybe we can work together on other projects, and how well can our two uniquely different brands combine to maybe create a third thing? So we wanted to be able to test that out. And then when we were thinking about it, it was like what’s a natural fit? There are no live events, so maybe we can do a virtual event. Hence, Measure Summit, which is what we created.

So Measure Summit, from year one, minimal has had 10,000 registered users. And typically between 10,000 and 15,000 registered ticket holders is what we have every year for that event. But that was where the ‘why’ came from. We wanted to be able to test, can the teams work together? Can we work together as competitors that are also cooperators? That coopetition type feeling on a third thing that we can both share in the proceeds of and help each other out and both of our companies can get bigger because of that, right? We can use it as a vehicle. So that’s why we did. And of course with COVID, it just made sense to go virtual, so that’s why we did it.

Rich: So 10,000 registrants is a huge number. And you hit that in your first year, you were saying?

Mercer: Yeah, it was shocking. It really was. Yeah.

Rich: So I guess the question is, how did you promote it? And what is the ‘why’ for the audience? Why are they going to give you potentially money, but definitely their time and contact information to show up for this? What do they think they’re going to get out of it?

Mercer: So that’s another good question. I think it’s in that order, too, that you mentioned. It is like, what are they going to get out of it? And oh, and how are you going to make money? And I think that’s exactly how you need to order that. The first thing we thought about wasn’t, okay, how much money… let’s create an event that we can make money from. Though obviously, that’s the end result. It was, let’s create an event that’s a virtual event that we can co-share and that we can just help the community, this measurement community that we’re a part of. What would they want? And let’s provide that. So it was very service focused. And oh and by the way, by the end, if it works out, we’ll make some money too. That was the afterthought part of it.

So the energy went into making a really good event that people wanted. The way that we did it was we went out to, because obviously we’re in the industry, we know the niche, we had connections, we knew some of the headliners in the industry might be like guys like Simo Ahava, some people might be familiar with. And so we knew them, and we would go out to Simo Ahava, we would go out to Julius Fedorovicius over at analyticsmania.com, Yehoshua over at Analytics Ninja, like all these individuals that we knew. And we asked them, “Hey, listen, do you want to present a topic, we’re going to do this virtual event? Julian’s got a list. I’ve got a list. We have our current brands, marketing assets. We’re going to promote it on our own, but if you want to be a part of it, that’d be great.”

And then they loved that idea. So they came on and then we asked them to promote it as well. We didn’t require it. We didn’t do anything like that. It was more just, “Hey, we’ve made some assets for you. If you want to promote, tell your list that you’re going to be on this virtual summit.” And we made the virtual summit free so that anybody can attend and go live. And then we just sell access to the recording. So if you want to keep access later, then buy the recordings. But if you just want to watch it live in real time, you can do that, too.

So that’s how we did it. And that’s how we promoted it. We started with just people emailing their own list. All the speakers just naturally wanted to say, “Hey, I’m a part of this thing.” Which was really cool. And back in the day we had, I think it was 15 speakers total that we had. And now this is four years in, right? So this is four years ago. We started this most recent year we had over 40, and that’s how it’s grown by the audience. So now it’s a platform that actually helped launch other experts in the field who do not yet have an audience, which is what we wanted it to do. We wanted to be able to say let’s talk to the keynotes, the people who have the list already, the celebrities in our industry, and get them to help out. But at the same time, use this as a platform that can then help create other experts in the industry. Which has been good.

So again, the whole point is creating a virtual event that serves the community first, and really emphasizing that as its mission. And then yes, if you can secondarily create money out of it, so much the better, but serve the community.

Rich: So you started, you had your own list. Your partner had his own list. And obviously you benefited from grabbing these other presenters who also had their own list. What else did you do in terms of marketing? Do you spend any money on ads? Did you do any social media promotions or anything else like that, or was it really the list that drove it?

Mercer: It was really the list in the beginning. And I think this goes under sort of one of the sayings that we have at measurementmarketing.io and the Academy is we have the saying called, “good enough to get going, come back and make it better later.” And that phrase helps get people out of the paralysis by analysis and getting stuck in all the little minutia of what’s possible. And so because there’s too many things possible, they never get started on anything because there’s too many options.

So in the beginning we were like, hey, let’s email the list and just see what happens. And I’ll tell you, the other thing that we had is with a healthy set of expectations, our goal, mind you, when we first started, this was, I hope maybe we can get a thousand people to register. Wouldn’t that be awesome. And maybe to have a hundred people show up live, that would be super cool. And that was the expectation we set. But right away when we start seeing hundreds of people signing up, we’re like, wow, we have the power of a really good offer. That’s what it was. So that’s where it blew up. And when that happened, because we had so wildly surpassed our initial guests, we didn’t think, let’s go do ads now. Because we’re like, we already are 10 times more than we thought. Let’s just see if we can keep this thing running the first year before we go out and do everything else.

Now that fast forward, you would think year two, year three, year four, we would get better at the paid media stuff, we would start adding that in, we would add in social media. And we really haven’t ever effectively done that. And I think partially it’s because while both of us are very good at the measurement side of things and taking care of our companies, we aren’t so focused on the marketing side, believe it or not. So we don’t have the resources to dedicate to it. I think it would be bigger if we did, to be honest.

Rich: It definitely could be, whether or not you need to or not. Sometimes there’s a point where it’s just not a value for bringing in more people. Or maybe those aren’t the right people who ultimately you’re trying to get in front of. Did you ever or do you now have sponsors as a ways of underwriting some of the expenses that you do?

Mercer: Yeah, another good question. From year one, we had sponsors that we put out there. Just, “Hey, we’re going to be doing this thing if you want to do it. “We just made up a number, I think the first one was $10,000 for the event sponsorship. Now it was the most recent time. It was $15,000 to sponsor the entire event, and then $5,000 for a day, because it’s like a three-day event. So we would do those sponsorships. And from year one we did that. Now that said, I don’t know that we’re doing the best job of that. But that’s probably on us from a business perspective, because we’re not so focused on the money aspect as much as we’re like, let’s make this a really good community asset, and then we can figure out…

The whole idea is build the community, build that market, build that reputation. And then the sponsorship stuff, in theory, would naturally go higher because people would start coming to us saying, “Hey, I’ve heard about this”, even though I’ve never heard about them. Because how else do you get sponsors? So what we did is we literally went to other events and saw who sponsored them and just started emailing them on LinkedIn. Just “Hey, we’re making this event if you guys are interested”, and we found somebody that was.

Rich: It sounds very casual the way that you’re describing it. But what is the offer that you’d make to them? Like, when you say it’s $10,000 year one, we think we’re going to get a thousand people asking for $10,000 seems like a high price. Unless it’s a very dedicated audience, and if that sponsor is literally just trying to get in front of that audience. So how much of that played into it, and did you offer them anything besides visibility? Did they get to present? Did they get lists? What was the tit for tat that you did with sponsors that first year?

Mercer: Great question. So the sponsorship was an afterthought. In year zero, the first year, it was an afterthought. The reason it was an afterthought is because again, we weren’t saying let’s go ahead and create a million-dollar product. It was, let’s create this really awesome event for the community because it’s COVID and everybody needs a break. And that’s why we did it.

So we were like, oh wait, we have 7,000 people, maybe we should get a sponsor. So we didn’t email a sponsor saying we’re expecting a thousand. At that point we were emailing sponsors going, “Hey, by the way, we happened to accidentally have 7,000 people registered for this event, by the way it looks it’s probably going to be over 10,000. Here’s what it is. Here’s what we think we can do. Here’s how much we think it is. And by the way, we’re totally open if you want to do some other cool stuff, let us know.”

And then what our initial package was, was their logos everywhere. We have all the sessions have video bumpers, intro and outros, and it has their logos. So lots of brand impression logos and put their logo over the site and everything else. And we would also create a page, which we call a ‘virtual booth’. And the whole reason was just because there’s a real booth that you have at the live events, you go to the little marketplace, and they have a little booth. That’s what we wanted to create for sponsors. When you buy a booth at an event, they basically say, here’s your 10×10 spot, it’s got a table, two chairs, the rest is up to you. So that’s what we did. We said, here’s this template we have, it’s this page that you can put whatever you want on it. Here’s how it’s laid out. You tell us what you want to put on it. So you have your virtual booth, too. And then we would send traffic to the virtual booth.

We would also do a dedicated email where we are sending the email under our brand. But we did not do co reg, meaning we’re not sharing a list with them. Partially because no one ever asked for that. But I think even if they asked for that, we would say no. Because since then people have. The reason we say no is because of data privacy. Especially in our market, it’s a measurement focused market. So they’re already going to be concerned about that because that’s a big topic in our market. How do you deal with data privacy? How do you deal with who’s got control over what? So it would be incongruent from a brand perspective to be like, we’re all about data privacy, by the way, we gave your email out to seven sponsors without your permission. So we just don’t do it. We keep it in house for that. And I would imagine that’s probably how it’ll be. Unless the sponsor wanted to build a list, we might send an email that says, “Hey, this sponsor is going to give you this, but you have to sign up for it.” We would make some sort of opt in thing for them. We would never just give it to them for that reason.

Rich: Talk to me a little bit about, I know it’s free to attend and you have a VIP or a paid level where now I can access all the videos. Did you just have those two tiers, or are there other offers and things that people can get for, again, a higher price point?

Mercer: Yeah, for now just the two. And I want to real quick go back to something else you mentioned, just recalled you asked about it, around is there a pay to play option? Can a sponsor get a talk? So in the beginning, the answer was no. Now we do include a talk, but what we do is we have a main stage and a second stage.

So the main stage is 15, still the core top 15, sort of consider those the keynote headliners. They’re the live stream. So over 3 days, we do 5 a day for about 5- or 6-hours total, we’re streaming those live streams. But we have another 25 or 30 other sessions that will be called the ‘on demand second stage’. They were just sitting there, people can play them on demand.

We do give sponsors a slot in the second stage, if they want that, because it’s on demand. We didn’t give them a slot on the main stage because we didn’t want it to look like, oh, they just paid to show up and then the sponsor just talks about themselves sometimes, because not all sponsors are great at delivering the content. We really wanted to protect the brand of Measure Summit, which is why we kept them delegated to that. That said, if there was a speaker that had a good topic that happened to be a sponsor too, and they deserve the main stage, we would still elevate to the main stage. But it wouldn’t be because they’re a sponsor. So I just wanted to address that.

The other thing is going back to your two levels. We have the free ticket, right? So free ticket holders, all you do is register at measuresummit.com, you sign up for the form and that’s your ticket. You got a ticket for the next year. Then it’s the recordings for that year with what we call the ‘all access pass’. So you get all the recordings. We then enhance them with transcripts. You can then download the videos. You can download the audios. You have a chat log with a Q&A questions that are there, too. So everything that happens around that session, the speaker slides if we have them available, like any of that stuff gets packaged with that all access pass. So not only are you getting access to recordings, you get access to all this other stuff to get the most from that session, right? That’s the idea.

And then, what we can do now that we couldn’t do before, and we have not implemented this but we’re going to for this next year, is the vault. So the vault is another option where people can now, because we’ve been around for four years and next year will be our fifth year doing this event, the vault will unlock previous all access passes. So it’s a natural upsell. We’ve never really had that before. We’ve only sold the all-access pass.

And again, I think that’s to our detriment. I’m not saying that’s what everybody should do. We just so focused on building the asset for the community, that we haven’t really done as good of a job on, okay, how much revenue can we squeeze out from this event? I think we could do more on sponsorships for sure. I think we could do more on products besides the all-access pass. Like what else do we talk about throughout the entire year that’s pretty cool.

So here’s an example of something I think about we can do with this list is lunch and learns. So we can sell a little mini events, basically an hour-long webinar that’s a product demo. That’s a measurement tool, let’s say. So somebody’s got a measurement tool that’s a new product that they want to get out that it’s on product hunt. They can pay us, we can go to the list and say, listen, here’s what this tool does. Here’s a little bit about it. We’re going to have them on for an hour-long conversation. And when you got a list of 15,000, it’s not hard to get a hundred people on an hour-long call.

But imagine those hundred people that are showing up already know what the product is, potentially might be interested in it, want to see a demo of it, and be able to ask questions about it. So it’s a value for whoever’s purchasing that hour to say, “Hey, I can get a hundred possible qualified prospects at once and pitch. That’s a pretty good deal.” And the Measure Summit list will be okay with that because they understood the deal, they know they’re only signing up to see this product. So as long as we, I think, keep the messaging congruent, we can still take care of the community and improve revenue through other means that are not just during the summit itself, if that makes sense. And that’s what we’re looking at is how else do we make revenue throughout the year versus the one time of year event that we’re doing.

Rich: Talk to me a little bit about your tech stack. What are the tools that you’re using to do everything from registration, to putting out the videos, to making sure that everybody gets access to the files after the fact?

Mercer: Great question. And I think this is a mistake I see a lot of people, make in my opinion. It’s not to say that everyone has different ways of doing stuff, but what I see most individuals did in the beginning when they said, okay let’s do a virtual conference, and you saw – especially during COVID – it was like every other day there was a new platform coming out saying, “Oh, we’re a virtual conference platform. You can just throw your conference because you can’t be live. We’re going to give you this, you can do this virtual conference platform. And so you have these little pictures of tables, and you’ve got to drag your face around the table to go meet and greet. And the whole point was they were literally saying this is what you do in a live event, so let’s do that exact same thing virtual. And we very quickly made the decision that it doesn’t make sense. This is a virtual event, it needs to be treated virtual. You can’t smash a live event into a virtual interface and expect it to work the same way.

But that’s what a lot of these tools do. So we kept it really simple. We just did WordPress. It still is a WordPress site, it’s just a membership site that we sell the permission. We sell a membership, essentially, that unlocks the recording. So we built it as a membership site. That’s the model. It’s super simple. The tech is easy.

Now the other thing I think that we did that we will continue to do, because it works really well, is we don’t do the sessions live. We stream the sessions live during the live event, because there is an open/close window. But the individual sessions, with very few exceptions, the individual sessions themselves are recorded. They’ve been previously recorded. They’ve been previously edited. They look good. They have everything they need. And we essentially MC. So the MC part is live. So when Julian and I are presenting, and we’re co-hosting, and we’re talking about stuff, all of that is live. But when we say, “Okay next up, we’ve got Simo Ahala talking about how to do this and this was server-side tag manager”, we push a button and then Simo’s pre-recorded session that maybe he did a couple of weeks ago and has been edited. So it’s still recent, still timely, but that goes through the stream now.

The reason we did that was to avoid the technical glitches. Because I’ve been on a lot of virtual events where you, to this day, they still do it. I don’t understand why they build a system like it. But they’ll sit there and you hear that, “Oh, hang on. Can you hear me, John? Yeah. John’s here. Okay. Yeah. Hang on. Okay. We’re still working on it.” And that goes on for 10 minutes and it kills the entire vibe of the event when that happens. You can’t keep the momentum going. And when you have a five-hour event for day one, and then you have to do that again for day two and day three, you need to keep the energy up. And when you have those breaks or when I see some individuals – and nothing against it, because everything has its place – but I know some are like, okay, we’re all going to go to this other zoom link now. And everybody goes through a different zoom link and watches the next speaker. You’re going to have drop offs. It just is a break in the momentum.

So what we did is when we created the site, we said, okay, we’re going to create this dashboard. That will be the main video sort of stage. The main, what we call the main stage. There’s the main stage that plays that video. We just push it through Vimeo so it’s pretty easy tech, just goes through Vimeo and we live stream through there. And then on the right, we put a little chat widget, a chat room, so we have a live chat room. That chat room will have anywhere between, on the low end, maybe 400 people toward the end of the summit, but otherwise it maxes out at 1,000. And we’ve hit that a couple of times. But it’s typically around 1,000, say between 600 and 1,000 people are always back there. So the chat room streaming, and it’s got enough people where there’s always that energy there, people are interacting with each other there.

And then Julian and I, and this is where the social media stuff will come in while the event’s going on, we will talk about how people hashtag #MeasureSummit. So show me how you hashtag #MeasureSummit. And if you look at LinkedIn right now, you can go look for the hashtag #MeasureSummit. When you see it, you’ll see a lot of people taking pictures of themselves with their computers because they’re showing, I’m measuring something right now. And other people are doing coffee, and other people have the CAT, and other people are doing whatever at work. And it that creates the buzz and the energy during the event to keep the retention happening, to keep it fun.

The other thing that we did on that, I know you didn’t ask about this part, but just to keep it fun, is scavenger hunts. Because the thinking was, okay, in a live event sometimes you get these little cards where they’re like, “Hey, if you get your booth stamped, if you get your thing stamped by all the different people that are the sponsors, you get entered for a contest.” So we’re like, maybe we can do the same thing virtually. So we’ll call it a scavenger hunt. So all the people, and also all the speakers got a virtual booth so they could have their products being pitched there. So we created a virtual scavenger hunt. We have to go through the virtual booths and answer questions like trivia questions. “What was the discount that Rich Brooks Agents of Change gave when blah, blah, blah.” Or ,“What color shirt was he wearing in the video stuff?” Because you had to go watch the video to see it, so you got exposure to the message. That helped us helping the speakers and the sponsors get eyeballs.

And then you can be entered for prizes which we got, of course, from speakers and sponsors. And we have a lot of prizes. So throughout the day, we’re giving out prizes and doing that. So there’s, I think we gave out probably 30 different prizes this past one. It’s a lot. To the point sometimes where we’re like, we can’t figure out how to give them all away sometimes in between. But that’s what creates that excitement and that energy and that ethos that I think is Measure Summit.

And if anybody goes on LinkedIn again, just look for hashtag #MeasureSummit. You’ll see what people are saying about it. It’s unbelievable. The reputation that it has, it’s really golden. And I think it’s golden because we really come at it maybe too much, but we definitely come at it as how do we help this for the purpose of helping the community, and then secondarily making money. If we came at it with the making money thing all the time as the first primary goal, I think we would have killed. We would probably be like other events, we would be a little bit more generic and we wouldn’t think how we think. But because we came from that route, I think it’s given us a better foundation that now we can start thinking about more ways to build revenue from it, where the community would be like, yeah, of course, we also want it to be bigger. So now everyone’s helping it grow.

Rich: So you mentioned that you actually have your speakers pre-record their sessions. Is there any live element? Is there a Q&A opportunity at the end of it? Or is it just like it’s the live stream and that’s what you get? And how transparent, outside of this podcast, are you with the fact that these are pre-recorded?

Mercer: Yeah, I’d say it’s apparent that it’s pre-recorded without it being, we don’t make it obvious that is prerecorded. So here’s an example of that. I’m wearing right now a hat and a green shirt, right? The black hat, green shirt. If I was recording your session, I would be wearing the Measure Summit blue shirt, and not have a hat, because on the day I stream live, I’m going to wear the Measure Summit shirt without a hat, so I want it to look the same. So there’s continuity in the live stream. So even though we go to the session that I recorded with you, it’s going to look exactly like what I’m wearing now. So I go from the live version of myself, I hit play to do the prerecorded session, so it streams, I look the same. So the continuity is there.

That said, there are going to be people in chat that will, because again, it mimics live, right? It’s going to look like it’s live. They’ll start asking questions in chat, a lot of speakers – and this is not every speaker – but the ones that can, they show up in the chat room and they start answering questions live. Which causes even more questions at that point. There’s always somebody who goes, “Oh, I thought these were all live”, which I get. Because it looks like that. And then immediately somebody goes, yeah, they don’t do that because… And they go through all the answers that we talked about, because there’s no technical glitches, the momentum’s better, and then things just work, and then we can kick to a time, right? Because nothing’s going to slow down, and everything just works like clockwork that way.

So the whole chat room starts going, “Yeah, here’s why they do that, this is even better, blah, blah, blah.” And then the speaker can answer questions that even though people are listening to the speaker talking, they’re answering slightly different questions and having conversations. So the chat room is actually more engaged at a deeper level because the speaker can focus on them for a half hour or an hour, depending upon how long the session is that they’re doing. So it’s worked out more positively than anything else when we do that.

Rich: So I get the benefit of doing it that way, and the speakers can show up and they can do Q&A. You talk about keeping the energy up, so this may be getting into the weeds. But so one session ends, you were on there as the MC. How quickly before the next session starts? I assume that if you wait too long, the energy dips, people leave, they start checking emails. But at the same time, if one is literally back up against the other one, suddenly nobody has a chance for a bathroom break and then they just leave.

Mercer: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And honestly, I’m seeing a live conference. Like you guys did such a great job at the Agents of Change conference because you kept the momentum going. There wasn’t like, okay, so what do you guys want to talk about? I got 15 minutes to kill on stage till the next speaker. Any questions? It wasn’t like that, because then it would have killed the momentum. There was always something else and they didn’t have to think what it was, they didn’t have to create that momentum. It was just them. It was there for them to participate in.

So it’s the exact same thing with a virtual event. So when Julian and I are emceeing, we have a split screen, and you’ll see both of our talking heads. And this is live. This is live when we’re doing that. So we’re streaming and we’re talking back and forth. And so let’s say that this is your session, and right after your sessions over, it might come back to me and be like, “Okay, what’s your hashtag?” “One thing, put it in the chat room. What did you learn from Rich’s talk? Remember go check out Rich’s virtual booth over at Agents of Change”, or takeflyte or whatever the, flyte media, whatever it is. It’s got all of the information we’re doing that. And then it’s like, “All right, we’re going to go through the one things here. Remember, we’re about to do the scavenger hunt, so make sure you get those in right now.” Now people are doing the scavenger hunt while I’m talking to your stuff. And now I’m like, Hey, Julian, what did you think was the highest… Now we’ve already seen the sessions, so we have that pre-planned out.

And we know we need to have it pre-planned out because we need to create so much momentum that it carries along, it pulls in the audience. Because they’re not going to create momentum on their own. We have to create so much that it infects them, and they want to participate with that conversation. And that’s where the prizes come in, right? Surveys come in, “Hey, make sure you go to Rich’s page and let us know, the speakers really want that feedback.”

We’ll do other, especially in the measurement side, we do a big survey that we then put on Looker Studio. So everybody can see what the state of measurement is for 2023, and how big is your company and how do you handle budgets, and what tools are you currently using, are you using this tool more or less than last year?” All of that so everybody can then fill out the survey and then go see the results of what everybody else already filled out so they can compare themselves. So it’s like we give them things to do in between those downtimes.

And honestly, the problem we have is the opposite. We don’t ever have dead air to fill. It’s the opposite. It’s all crap we have to figure out how to do this in three minutes. We have 10 minutes worth of content to get in the next three minutes, how are we going to do it? And that tends to be more of the problem. But then what we’ll do is like right toward the end, there might be a two- or three-minute thing that we’ll do. Now we do play a commercial. That was something we added from sponsors. We asked them to send us a little video commercial, so let’s say we have five minutes between the next session. We always try to start them at the top of the hour on point. So maybe we got five minutes till the top of the hour. We’ll say, “Okay, we’re going to take a bio break.” We flip it over, we’re playing the video, it’s doing the five-minute countdown. And in between, we’re playing the sponsor.

Every once in a while we’ll run through a sponsor ad or something that they’ve given us, so that brings in the audio and the video. But meanwhile, yeah, people are going to check out and can do their bio breaks and grab a quick bite to eat at the desk or whatever they’re going to do. Then at top of the hour the session starts. Typically we’ll say at least 30 minutes of content with 10 minutes banner Q&A back and forth. That is already in the recording itself. And then when that ends, that’s when it goes back to Julian and I live. And then we see it live and then pass back to the recording. And that’s how that works.

Rich: All right. I want to get back because I think we started talking about it but we got off topic, but the tech stack. So you’re building this all on WordPress. What are you using to register people? What is the software you’re using?

Mercer: It’s all WordPress. And then we have Keap, so we use Keap Infusionsoft, the original Infusionsoft, that’s what we’re using. So it’s just a web form that they fill out. Infusionsoft records them, that’s what controls in WordPress. The plugin we’re using is called Memberium, which is a fantastic plugin for membership sites. I love it because it hooks directly into Infusionsoft and Keap, so I can tag you as a free ticket holder and you can only see what free ticket holders see, or I can tag you as all-access pass because you bought it and now you can see what all-access people can see. And it makes it so simple to run, but it’s essentially just a regular everyday membership site. We just happened to market it through this virtual event vehicle.

Rich: What happens after the event? So you’ve done all this work. And it sounds intense, I’m sure for you, for the two or three days.

Mercer: Oh yeah. You blocked out the entire week for sure. Block out the entire week, because your energy is drained.

Rich: And then when it’s over, what kind of communication are you having with attendees, speakers, and sponsors after the event ends? How do you stay in touch with them or stay on top of things?

Mercer: That is the question of the century. Because this is basically what we used to do. Year one, this is how it went. We went, “Hey, thanks everybody for going to Measure Summit. Make sure you fill out this survey. Let us know how we did.” Then you get the feedback survey. And then nine months later was the next email they got. Now, why was that? Partially because Julian and I have our own companies, so we’re really focused on that. Measure Summit was just a one-time launch thing at the time, so we didn’t plan to have constant nurturing or anything else. And we’ve, to this day, we still miss the mark on that.

We’re better at it now. But we didn’t know what else to email them. So we didn’t have, and it’s nine months away. It’s a year away at this point, right? The next Measure Summit, eight months now, nine months now. What do you talk to somebody about? And it was like, we don’t have time to solve that problem right now because I have to work on something with a Measure Marketing Academy. He doesn’t have time to solve the problem because he’s got to work on something with Measure Masters. So we just let it sit there, and that’s honestly what happened.

It’s not what you should do. It’s a huge, massive opportunity for that brand for us to get there. And that’s what we’re talking about for this year. Believe it or not, for this exact reason is what are we doing every year. We just do this one time launch and then ignore everybody for a year. Not purposeful, just because it’s happening. But it’s still what’s happening. We’re ignoring the list for a year, and we have to rebuild it almost every year because it’s a very corporate list. So corporate emails spin faster than personal emails. And that was a hard lesson to learn that first time because we’re used to our own individual brands have a lot of individual emails, personal emails, so they don’t disengage as fast. But in corporate America, you’re corporate world, you’re moving jobs around all the time so they die faster. And we had to learn that lesson.

But we’re still not good at it. But the intention is in 2024 that we are mailing at least on that monthly basis about something coming up or something in the community. And that’s where the lunch and learn concept came from, so at least we can talk about that. Maybe we do some ‘state of measurement’ style surveys to do some nurture stuff. Maybe we can just push other speaker’s content and say, “Hey, did you see Rich’s latest thing where he talked about this?” And we can come up with some sort of weekly recap newsletter for that crowd.

But again, it’s if they want it. Because I don’t want to just force it on them, because a lot of people just want to sign up for the summit and then they’re done. So I think that the biggest thing we can do on that list is really tighten up the engagement campaign. So if they’re not engaged in 60 days after Measure Summit, they’re gone, and let’s just start rebuilding. In Q2 is when the biggest promotion stuff starts hitting to rebuild the list. But it’s definitely an opportunity for sure.

Rich:. You have a unique challenge in the fact that it’s two different companies. If it was just as Measurement Marketing putting it on, then you could easily just do a weekly or monthly email that’s, “Hey, here’s all the new things that are going on in the world of measurement”, and be done with it. But that is a challenge in terms of who’s going to create that content and who’s going to be responsible for it.

Mercer: Yeah. And I think to that point, that is different because the Measure Summit is a unique brand and we think about it like that. There’s measurementmarketing.io, there’s Measure School, which is Julian’s. And then we’ve got Measure Summit, which is ours. And we think about them separate. If we had just said, oh, this is a product of measurement marketing.io that Julian happens to help with, that would have been probably easier for us, but it wouldn’t have been that partnership connection that Julian and I needed. We needed to be co-producers of it. That’s why we created a separate brand. That’s a really good point though, because the structure is probably what’s caused that. You’re right.

Rich: But it’s one of the strength/weakness things saying that also could be how you’re able to build community because it’s not just around a singular brand. It’s, this is the foremost community virtual summit for measurement marketing.

Awesome stuff. This has been great, Mercer. Thank you so much for stopping by, yet again, and sharing your wisdom with us. When is the next Measurement Summit that’s going to be put on? Do you have a date for it set up?

Mercer: So not a firm date yet, but it typically tends to be in October of every year. So we just recently finished up the one on October 2023, so my guess is it’ll be sometime in October 2024. But everybody can check out the latest just at measuresummit.com. And you’ll see whatever the latest dates are, we’ll have them there on that homepage.

Rich: Sounds good. And you’ll hit me up when it starts getting closer so I can share that date with our audience here at Agents of Change.

Mercer: Absolutely. Consider it done. Awesome.

Rich: Mercer, if people want to learn more about you, where can we send them online?

Mercer: Absolutely. So if they want to learn about Measure Summit, just measuresummit.com. We’ll keep it easy there. If you want to learn more about what we do at the Measure Marketing Academy, and the training and toolkits that we have, you can just go to measurementmarketing.io/aoc. That’ll take us there for Agents of Change.

Rich: Love it. Mercer, thanks so much for stopping by.

Mercer: Thanks, Rich.

Show Notes:

Chris Mercer is a highly sought after measurement marketing expert, skilled at figuring out what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve your results. His virtual event, MeasureSummit, is the first of its kind dedicated to leveraging all things measurement for business growth.

As President of flyte new media and founder of the Agents of Change, Rich Brooks brings over 25 years of expertise to the table. A web design and digital marketing agency based in Portland, Maine, flyte helps small businesses grow online. His passion for helping these small businesses led him to write The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing, a comprehensive guide on digital marketing strategies.