Leesa Barnes on How to Use Virtual Events to Attract Clients & Get Famous Fast
Susan Bratton

Episode 149 - Leesa Barnes on How to Use Virtual Events to Attract Clients & Get Famous Fast

Join me as I learn from Leesa Barnes all about driving leads and sales through virtual events.

I am participating in her upcoming virtual event about virtual events. ;)

Find out more at VirtualEventBoom.com/Susan

  • How do virtual events differ from webinars or conference calls?
  • What are the benefits of hosting a virtual event to marketing and digital professionals?
  • What are some of the biggest mistakes people make hosting virtual conferences?
  • How do you entice valuable speakers to say "yes" to your event?
  • How do you set up your affiliate program?
  • What kind of events sell?
  • How do you price them? Can you give them away free and upsell?
  • What technology do you recommend to run your virtual events?
  • What kind of team, staffing or support do you recommend?
  • Is there a place I can get checklists for virtual events?



Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. And on today’s show you’re going to get to meet Leesa Barnes. Leesa is president of the International Association of Virtual Events Managers. So she’s the authority on using virtual events to become the number one expert in your niche. She’s also one of my sistas. She’s a top 50 Most Influential and Powerful Women in Social Media honoree. And I met her through the podcasting in New Media Expo World. We are working together on a program called Virtual Event Boom. I’m fascinated by this whole category, and we’re going to get Leesa on the show because she is the ultimate expert in virtual events and you’re going to learn how you can use this in your marketing arsenal. So lets get her on the show. Welcome Leesa.

Leesa Barnes: Thank you Susan. I’m so happy that we’re finally working on something together once again. So thanks for having me on you show.

Susan Bratton: Yay! Me too. I wish we could just work together all the time. That would be super fun. But we’ll do Virtual Event Boom together. So lets get right in to it. One of the things that I don’t really completely understand is how do a virtual event differ from a webinar or a teleseminar or even a conference call. So could you line it all up for us and get us started.

Leesa Barnes: Well the difference between all the things you just mentioned is really only in the name, because I define a virtual event as a learning occurrence that happens over the phone, online or on a portable media player. So whether it’s a telesummit, a virtual summit, webinar or even a podcast, as long as it’s taking place in a virtual environment, meaning you’re not traveling anywhere to learn or to be trained or to access the content, then it’s considered virtual. What makes virtual events so powerful is that you can access it anytime, anywhere, whether it’s live, through webinar or recorded that you can access through your portable media player.

Susan Bratton: Well lets use Virtual Event Boom as an example of that. So…

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: Describe the whole event itself and how you have all the different speakers and, you know, set the scene for us on that.

Leesa Barnes: Now what makes this powerful is when you combine a series of teleclasses into one event. And for a long time I was doing one-hour teleclasses each month for a membership program that I have or these one off 90-minute webinars. But it wasn’t until 2008 when I hosted my very first multi-speaker virtual event that I really, really, really saw the increase in my status – expert status – and increase in income. So I want to make that very clear that while all these different strategies are important, what really stands out above everything else is when you use a multi-speaker virtual event format in your business to build your expertise and to make tons of money in a short period amount of time.

Susan Bratton: So tell me how you charge for your Virtual Event Boom. Now this one’s coming out May 10th through 14th, and it’s essentially 5 days in a row…

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: and there’s between 2 and 3 speakers each day…

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: And so how do you price it?

Leesa Barnes: Yeah, Virtual Event Boom is a virtual event about the topic of virtual event, so it’s almost kind of humorous. But what I’ve done is I’ve brought together various experts who use virtual events in their strategy to make money and build their expertise. I have someone who will be talking about heart-based copywriting, how to sell your products and sell your virtual event without being all icky and yucky. Someone else is going to talk about the art of leverage to do after your virtual event is over with all this wonderful content that you’ve created. When I hosted my very first multi-speaker virtual event, which was a social media telesummit in 2008 I created 33 one-hour audio recordings in 8 days. So that should give you an idea as to the amount of speakers and the number of sessions I was hosting. And now all of the sudden I have this goldmine of content that can be leveraged later on for transcripts, to turn into e-books or even a book and perhaps bundled all these recordings into different products that I may sell later on. And so some people might be saying to me, “Well Lessa, you know, Virtual Event Boom, all these multi-speaker virtual events, it’s usually two or three speakers back to back from say 12PM to 3PM and then I have to hang on the phone for 3 hours or keep my browser open for them out of time if it’s a webinar”, but the beauty of these multi-speaker virtual events is that you can consume the content when you want. So usually what I recommend is if you cannot attend all the live sessions back to back, that what you should do is you should look at a schedule and choose the three, four or five sessions that you must absolutely have to attend live, and then for the rest catch up on the recordings when they become available. And that’s the beauty of virtual events, which I think is missing from a lot of conferences, is that if there’s consecutive sessions or there’s many sessions taking place at once you want to be able to give attendees a way to consume the sessions that they’ve missed, and that’s why you should have recordings available, especially in the virtual event environment.

Susan Bratton: What do you think is the typical spread if you have the hundred to five hundred dollar spread on a biz op virtual event, where do you see the bulk of the sales? Is it in the second tier, is it always the lowest priced…

Leesa Barnes: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: It’s the second tier?

Leesa Barnes: Pricing of a virtual event can be tricky, but there’s two rules of thumb that you should go by in order to price your virtual event. One is you should price it according to the value that people are going to receive. So I highly unrecommend that you do not price it according to each session. So it’s like, you know, 1 or 2 sessions for $97 dollars, get 4 to 5… Yeah, instead offer a bundle of features for a certain price point. I’ll explain how you can do that for a moment. The second rule of thumb is to look at your target market. So for example, an event like Virtual Event Boom is targeted to businesses. Thus, business will be used to pay a little bit more than another virtual event that I’m planning called The Sewing Virtual Summit, and this is for sewing enthusiasts and sewing hobbyists. So thus, the pricing I would price for that virtual summit is going to be a lot less than I would for a business crowd. Even if you’re going to target a corporate audience, again that price point will be a lot higher. Now one of my clients that were planning a virtual event for right now, they are targeting corporate, and thus they would, probably their cheapest option would be $500 dollars and up; whereas for the sewing enthusiasts I would price it more at $47 dollars for all the sessions. So for $47 bucks you get access to all 12, 20, 28, however many sessions that I plan to host. And so your target market is going to be a really huge factor in how much you would charge for entry into your virtual event. One of the things I do want to point out is that with the virtual events you should offer a variety of options; therefore to have just one single entry point is not enough. I suggest that you put together two, even three, and then you price it according to the features. So perhaps the cheapest option would be $47 dollars and you get listen only and access to the forums. If you want to download the recordings as well, plus a few other features, then you pay a little bit more, maybe you’d add $50 dollars onto that and that’d be the middle ground package. And then the most expensive package you could price it at $197 and you’d give not only access to the live sessions, plus the forums, plus the recordings that you can download, but you can also get the recordings mailed to your front door and the copy of the transcripts of all the sessions.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, that makes sense. I was thinking too as you were talking about the difference between Virtual Event Boom and this sewing virtual event, I was thinking about “Well if I were Michael’s, you know, the…

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: you know, the… I love their store with all the crafts and stuff in it…

Leesa Barnes: Oh, I know.

Susan Bratton: You know, they could have a virtual event for their customers that was nominally priced or even free and have different experts come in and talk about different things that would generate more usage of products. Or somebody like one of my listeners runs a museum, she’s the marketing manager for a museum in I think it’s Oklahoma. And I got an email from her once, so I always think about her sometimes when I’m doing the show, and I was thinking that “Boy it would be interesting if she had, you know, a virtual event with the curator and some of the artists that, the local artists that they feature and, you know, when they’re trying to raise funds for their museum, you know. Or even educating docents or anything, you could use this for anything…

Leesa Barnes: Oh my goodness, it’s….

Susan Bratton: Because you’re leveraging the power. You could have your customers, your vendors, your employees all participate in their various areas of expertise. So let me ask you a question about free versus paid.

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: One of the things I’ve heard is if you’re doing your virtual event or even just a single teleseminar and you’re trying to do it for lead gen or upsell to some  kind of a larger program, and you want to offer the seminar or the virtual event for free, that it’s actually to charge a nominal fee because then people show up and they value it. Do you agree with that or how would you modify that thought for me?

Leesa Barnes: Yeah, I really cringe at that strategy where people, they’ll invite all the speakers, they’ll have 12 sessions back to back over maybe three or four days and they’ll say, “Okay, for the cost of your email address you’ll get access to all these sessions for free.” And so I know that most people do that model to list build. And then on the back end what they say is, “Okay, if you want access to the recordings or if you want them mailed to your front door, then you’ll pay a fee.” And so they’ll collect all the email addresses, give access to their full virtual event, and then try to do the upsell to the recordings after the virtual event is over. Now for virtual hosts who’ve used this model that I’ve spoken to, they tend to build a really fast list really quick, so a couple thousand people will sign up. But give it 12 months and 70 percent of their list is gone. On top of that, the money that they make by trying to upsell after they’ve already delivered all the content tends to be a couple thousand dollars here and there. So I cringe at that model because there is a way that you can build your list, provide value, yet not give away the farm. And it’s a model that one of my colleagues, Andrew J. Lee calls ‘pink spoon marketing’. It’s, you know, you go to Baskin Robbins or, you know, the ice cream store and you say, “Hey, I want a sample, I want to get a taste of that new flavor.” They don’t give you a full scoop; instead they take a little bit on a pink spoon and give it to you. And so you need to think about your virtual event as giving away a virtual, developing a virtual event pink spoon. And that’s those preview calls where you can provide a taste, a sample of what people will get should they sign up to attend your virtual event. But you do so in such a way that peaks interest and you’re not giving away all the content.

Susan Bratton: All right, I have about a million questions here. Let me ask the first one, and the first one is another thing that people might be worried about is if, you know, you’re charging…

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: $100 to $500 dollars small business owners, or business owners of any size, to attend if you will the Virtual Event Boom. But people like me, I’m doing easy expert interview techniques that create profitable content. You’ve got Alicia Forest talking about how to get anyone to say yes to your speaker invitation, virtual event topics that sell with Sarah Robinson, how to create interactive virtual panels that keep attendees engaged with Elizabeth Marshall – and I want to talk about that a little bit. So you’ve got all these people who are going to be your content producers if you will…

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: And now, I kind of know the answer to this already, but I’m asking it rhetorically. Why would people do something for free that you’re going to make money on?

Leesa Barnes: Oh excellent question. Excellent question. I get this question a lot and there are a number of reasons why someone would speak at a virtual event knowing that the host is going to, you know, make tons of money. And one of the things that is attractive about this is that the speaker doesn’t have to travel. So all they need to do is just pick up their phone or open their browser and they’re connected to the virtual event. The second thing that makes speaking at a virtual event attractive to a speaker is that they can introduce new content and be able to record it. And especially if you’re going to offer transcripts, that is of so much value to speakers. I actually no longer speak at virtual events unless transcripts are include because for me that is an added value to the recording I get. So many speakers are able to use a virtual event to introduce new content – maybe they’re developing a speech, they want to introduce it, get feedback from attendees, tweak it so that now it becomes a new speaker topic that they can offer on the speaker circuit. But there is a way that speakers make money from virtual events, and that’s where I do a revenue share. And not a revenue share on the entire event, although I know someone who’s doing that model successfully. But a revenue share on the people that they refer to my virtual event. And so this will be like an affiliate arrangement where they get a special, the speaker will get a special URL, a unique URL that’s, again, unique to them, and all they do is they share that URL in blog posts, tweets on Twitter, anything that would advertise the virtual event to their network. And all they need to do is once their network clicks on that link, that click is recorded so that if that person purchases a seat to my virtual event then I would split that sale with the speaker. I’ve had speakers who have promoted my virtual events to their network consistently and have walked away with four and even five figure affiliate commissions. So that sometimes far exceeds the speaker, the speaker fee that they would usually charge because in their eyes they can make two to three times more in affiliate commissions than they would charging a speakers fee. So are all the reasons why a speaker would agree to speak at a virtual event and why it’s very attractive to many speakers to offer their speaking topic to a virtual event.

Susan Bratton: Well and certainly the third benefit from my perspective is that I also, all of the people that you and all of the other speakers who are using their affiliate links to promote your virtual event, all of them are ultimately, or most of them, are going to hear my presentation and I’ve given them a lot of free information, but there’s an upsell opportunity for me that I’ll do right at the end of the hour that gives them a promo code with an incentive discount to come and purchase my product, Masterful Interviews…

Leesa Barnes: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: so that they learn a lot – I can’t teach the whole thing in an hour. So I got trained, and I told you about this, I told you about Lisa Sasovich.

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: She does the Invisible Close, where she teaches you how to give a free workshop that then is the platform for upselling to your products. So her product, The Invisible Close, is about that. I’ve learned that and that’s what I do in my one-hour session. And people feel like they got a ton of value…

Leesa Barnes: Yes, yes.

Susan Bratton: You’ve created interest, you’ve blown open their world like, “Wow, I never even thought that much about doing interviews. Oh my god, I had no idea I could make money doing interviews. Wow, interviews aren’t really that hard if you know these three things”, you know. And all of the sudden they’re like, “Ooh, this is a skill I could actually do. I’m going to buy that product.” So it generates opportunities, it gives me the recordings of the content, and of course it gives me my affiliate link so, and I want to say what my affiliate link is on the show; it’s virtualeventboom.com/susan. You just have to remember to put the slash Susan on, and then I’ll get credit if you decide that you want to go learn about doing virtual events, which I think a lot of people who listen to DishyMix are probably really interested in this. I think this works in B2B, B2C, it works in, I mean it could literally work for any business. It can be a core marketing strategy, especially for lead gen. And I want to talk a little bit more about that lead gen and signups. You do preview calls. You leverage my list and my, you know, my marketing and all of the other speakers marketing to get people into the virtual event, so that’s a smart idea. What other things are you doing, ‘cause you’re really a social media expert and an online marketing expert, so kind of give me the laundry list starting with the things that make the biggest impact, but give us a little list of all that you do. And I just realized I’m going to take us to a break and bring us back for you to do that laundry list ‘cause it might take a few minutes and I need to give a break so I can thank my sponsors of DishyMix, so lets do that. All right, so we’re going to go to a break, and when we come back we’re going to talk to Leesa Barnes, virtualeventboom.com/susan. And we’ll learn more about how you can promote and generate leads and inbound traffic for your virtual event. So stay tuned, we’ll be right back.

Susan Bratton: We’re back with Lessa Barnes of Virtual Event Boom. Leesa, go through that laundry list with us and tell us what are the biggest things that move the needle on down to some of the things that you know tweak in those last, you know, those last people to sign up.

Leesa Barnes: First of all, I love what you did there Susan. You’re kind of like, it’s like watching an episode of Survivor or American Idol. It’s like, “Who will get voted off next? We’ll find out after this break.” So I love that.

Susan Bratton: A girl knows her tricks.

Leesa Barnes: But there’s many ways to promote a virtual event so that you gain tons of excitement and attention. And I use six primary tools, and they’re mainly online tools that I use to promote. So I’m not going to talk about press releases in the media or attending networking events or any of those tools. So the six things I use is 1), I use an attractive sales page, so it’s very important that when people click on the URL and go to the sales page that it looks good, it looks attractive. I’ve spoken at virtual events where they say it’s six figure success secrets, but then the sales page looks like their six year old created it because he knew his way around Dream Weaver or Frontpage. And I remember one virtual event in particular where the sales page did not render well in Fire Fox. And when I told the virtual event host that, you know, “Hey, my speaking profile overlaps another speaker’s when I view your sales page in Fire Fox”, what the virtual event host did is instead of fixing the problem, at the top of the page she put “Best viewed in Internet Explorer.” So I was honest with her, I said, “Listen, your sales page is not one that my audience is going to expect from me. They expect classy, elegant, gorgeous sales pages, and yours doesn’t look like that, so I cannot promote – even though I’m speaking at your event – I cannot promote it.” So having an attractive sales page is key. The second thing I’d also recommend is social media. Social media is really huge and it could definitely bring in a lot of quality leads to your virtual event. I also like to use direct mail, and when I use direct mail I send it to people who’ve already bought from me, so that really helps to make the direct mail campaign really effective. I also like to use preview content, so I use a mixture of videos and articles, as well as preview calls. I love preview calls; I think it’s a really attractive strategy. I also… Hmm, slipping my mind, but… I also like to use email as well. I know that email has gotten a bad rap over the years, but email is still an effective way of getting the word out about your virtual event. Especially if you already have a database, you can easily tell your database about your virtual event, and I would also recommend that you create a sublist so that as you’re sending updates about your virtual event you can kind of bug your sublist about these updates and reminders about when to sign up so that you don’t lose people on your main list. And of course I mentioned before the fact that you can use speakers, so joint venture partners would be another strategy that I use to market my virtual event. So I make different arrangements with different joint venture partners based on what they have to offer. One of my clients approached a magazine in his industry and said, “In exchange for you promoting my virtual event to your readers I will give you complimentary access to the virtual event and I’ll list your magazine as a sponsor for my virtual event.” So I think that was a really great arrangement because money did not change hands. What did was the value of the database that was shared between the two, between the magazine and between my client who was hosting the virtual event. So those were the six tools that I use to market my virtual event. And certainly you can use that and a mixture of other tools to reach out. The key here is to make sure it’s an integrated approach. Don’t rely on one tool over another; instead make it integrated so that you can get the maximum results from your promotional campaign. Because at the end of the day great content doesn’t fill your virtual event, marketing does.

Susan Bratton: You talk about the startling mistakes that people make hosting virtual events. What are some of the other ones besides the bad sales page, the poorly designed and poorly constructed landing and sales pages?

Leesa Barnes: Oh Susan, there are many. But one mistake that I can think of off the top of my head is relying solely on your speakers to market your virtual event. As with anything in life, there’s a 80/20 rule. And the same is here when using speakers to market your virtual events. And only about 20 percent of them are going to do it. And it’s not because the other 80 percent don’t care; it’s just that, there’s many reasons why they don’t. Maybe they have their own campaign that they’re promoting at that moment, or they have been invited to so many other virtual events that it’s hard for them just to market just one. So it’s very important that as a virtual event host, someone who’s organizing and hosting a virtual event, that you invite your speakers to help you promote, but you don’t make it a requirement. I can’t tell you how many virtual events I’ve spoken at Susan where the virtual event harassed me, absolutely harassed me to send out solo email blasts to my lists announcing that I’m speaking at their virtual event. I even had one virtual event host go as far as to blame me for the low attendance to my session at her virtual event because I failed to promote it to my list. I was flabbergasted by her response. So relying solely on your speakers as your only marketing strategy is a huge mistake that I see a lot of people make when hosting virtual events.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. You have to take control of your own event. Hey, you know another, is there any other deadly mistake that you see happening over and over, ‘cause I do want to get a little bit into the tech and infrastructure stuff if you don’t mind?

Leesa Barnes: Sure.

Susan Bratton: Any other deadlies, yeah?

Leesa Barnes: Yeah, there is one mistake I do want to definitely share, which is trying to do it all by yourself. I know from my very first virtual event, that’s a mistake I made. I did it all by myself and while I did clear or make just under $20,000 dollars, I mean the headache that went with that was just not worth it. There’s so many moving pieces with a virtual event. You have to plan it; you have to plan the goals; you have to put together the market research; you have to write up all the marketing copying, not only just for yourself, but also for your affiliates and then another set for your speakers; you have to write the sales page; you have to get the banner designed for you virtual event. Plus you have to follow up with the speakers and find out, “Okay, did you send in your speaker release form? Did I get your bio, your description”, I mean just so many… And when the virtual event starts, the first two days are usually the busiest in terms of customer service because attendees lost the call-in details or don’t know where to find this or don’t… And so imagine doing all of that on your own. I mean you wouldn’t, for most people listening, they wouldn’t even attempt to plan a tradeshow on their own, a tradeshow at a conference center. They wouldn’t even plan that on their own, yet make the mistake of planning a virtual event on their own.

Susan Bratton: What’s the number one person that you need to have to support you?

Leesa Barnes: Certainly the number one person you need to have on your virtual event team is a virtual event manager. This person acts like a project manager because what they’ll do is they will manage all the pieces from beginning to end from A to Z. And you just give them a budget, give them your timeline as to when you want to host your virtual event, and a virtual event manager will put all the pieces together. I have couple of virtual event managers whose background is in project management in the information technology field. So for them doing virtual event management is really natural. I have another virtual event manager on my team who was a paralegal for years, and while that isn’t specifically project management, what she does have experience in is keeping timelines and being very organized for the lawyers that she supported at the law firm that she worked at. So definitely a virtual event manager acts as your project manager, oversees everything, and that way you can focus on what you do best, which is building a profitable business.

Susan Bratton: Do you ever make a checklist available as a part of any of your products if someone wants to do their own virtual event?

Leesa Barnes: I do. I have a couple of products that would be helpful. There’s one called Virtual Event Launch Secrets. This is a program that essentially helps you build a business plan for your virtual event. And you can get more about that program at virtualeventlaunchsecrets.com, www.virtualeventlaunchsecrets.com. I also have another program called Virtual Event Marketing Blueprint, and in that one it gives you the scripts, templates and the samples of all the things that I use to market my virtual events. So earlier in the interview I talked about the six things I use. Well in this program I actually print out a lot of stuff; you have exercises, there are CD’s, audio training and recordings of the Q&A sessions I’ve held. And it just takes you step by step, this is literally step by step, it’s, the binder is so thick – and I tell you that not to scare you, to think it’s like just “Oh my goodness, I’m never going to get through it”, but just to demonstrate to you that this is a content rich program, and so it will take you step by step, ‘cause as I said before, great content doesn’t filly our virtual event, marketing does, and the Virtual Event Marketing Blueprint has helped my students earn five, even six figures using my process to fill their virtual events. So you can get more on that one at www.virtualeventmarketingblueprint.com.

Susan Bratton: What are the URL’s for both of those products? Say them on the show and then I’ll make sure that we put the links to those products on the page for your interview on DishyMix on the Personal Life Media site as well.

Leesa Barnes: Oh definitely. So yeah, I’ll give that again. www.virtualeventlaunchsecrets.com, that’s the virtual event business plan builder that you’ll use to build your virtual event. And then www.virtualeventmarketingblueprint.com, that includes checklists and samples, templates, scripts on how to fill your virtual event using a solid marketing strategy.

Susan Bratton: All right, so I want to wrap up the conversation about this with regard to technology and infrastructure. What do you use or recommend, what’s the whole, you know, all the pieces that are connected together so you can register people, do the outbound email marketing, collect their money, confirm them? What’s the teleseminar, the conference call system that you use and do you have, is there follow up beyond that that you need technology for? How does that all stitch together?

Leesa Barnes: There are certainly two ways that you can go about doing this. One way is to spend anywhere between $10,000 dollars and up on a 3D virtual event platform. Most in the corporate environment, if your audience is corporate, this would probably be the way to go. These 3D platforms, you open your browser and you encounter a table, a welcome table, and then an avatar will walk up to you and say “Welcome. Where do you want to go today?”, and you’ll see a bunch of signs. It’s very fancy, quite beautiful and elegant. But again, you’re going to pay for it. So if you have $10,000 dollars and up to spend, then that’s the way to go. On the other side, if you have a smaller budget I use Word Press and a few plug-ins, a Word Press blog and a few plug-ins, to offer the same interaction online so that attendees have a place to go and interact with other attendees, interact with speakers, and then find a spot to get the recordings and the call-in details all in one spot. So it’s Word Press that I use. The plug-in I use to build this virtual internet platform is called WishList Member, and both of these together provide a very powerful environment to host a virtual event. Now you’ll need a phone line and what I use is a service called The Instant Teleseminar. If you go through my affiliate link at www.virtualeventbridgeline.com - again that’s virtualbridgeline.com – you’ll skip the opt-in page and you’ll go right to the order page and you’ll get your, you can get 21 days for a dollar. And so this is the conference bridge line that I use to deliver the live sessions. The reason why I actually pay for my phone line service as opposed to use one of those free conference bridge lines is 1), that I need something reliable. I find that when I’m paying a fee for my conference bridge line service I get a lot of options and I get better uptime. But secondly, many people cannot call the phone numbers that are offered by the free conference bridge line services because many of the Tel Cos have banned their customers from calling. There’s something about subsidies and, you know, there’s something tricky going on there, and I still don’t fully understand. But in a nutshell, because these phone numbers are in rural parts of the United States, that anyone that services calls through those rural spots will actually get a subsidy or get a kickback from the long distance charges that are being routed to those areas. Now many of these free conference bridge line services, their companies aren’t even located in these rural areas, and thus making the Tel Cos feel it’s unfair to route calls through there and give money to companies that don’t even reside in those areas. These numbers are typically 712 and 218 numbers. I cannot access them off my phone line, and thus I don’t use the free conference bridge line services. So I would rather pay. So WishList and Word Press together, plus Instant Teleseminar give me a really powerful platform. And in turns of interaction, there’s forms that you can use to plug into your Word Press blog. And of course you can invite your attendees to use Twitter and other social media tools. So as you can probably tell, one solution is least expensive, but you’re using a lot more tools plugged into each other; whereas the other option is more expensive and the benefit is that you use everything in one place, so you don’t have to go off and rent a bridge line service, you don’t have to go off and get attendees to sign up for something else. Instead it’s all in one spot, the drawback is the expense. So you’ll just need to look at your own budget and decide which one is going to meet your needs. And then to accept payments I just want to mention this, that I use a program that, it’s called virtualeventcart.com, and it allows me to accept payments, to easily put payment buttons on my web page, and then it has an auto responder feature so that once the attendee signs up then they start receiving a series of emails every few days that kind of coach them on how to use the virtual event platform, where to go and also provides an affiliate center so that my affiliates can sign up, get their affiliate URL and be able to run reports to see how well their campaign is doing. So, you know, all these tools together, again, like I said, one option is to use a least expensive tools, but then they’re all over the place, but they integrate nicely so that’s the nice thing about it. Or to use something more expensive, which is the drawback because of the expense, but the benefit is that it’s all in one spot.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, and I’ve heard nothing but good about Word Press and WishList Member, which lets you drip out the content over time – it’s awesome – so that, you know, each day when you have your Monday teleseminar with your, you know, your opening keynote and your heart-centered copywriting, those things appear. Then the next day on Tuesday you get the easy expert interviews with me and multiple streams of virtual event income, and then the third day you get how to get anyone to say yes and launch secrets for the marketer. So it’s great because people have to keep coming back and I think it creates the mentality of your virtual event being more than just some recorded audio content or a teleseminar. It’s like, “Wow, this is my resource. I am a member of this site…

Leesa Barnes: Oh my goodness…

Susan Bratton: and I can come back and get this stuff as much as I want, listen to it whenever I want to.” Don’t you think that the mentality is here, it’s more like a membership with a forum…

Leesa Barnes: Yes!

Susan Bratton: than it is a teleseminar….

Leesa Barnes: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: It vaults you to a whole new level.

Leesa Barnes: Oh Susan, this is where I get so excited, so excited, because your virtual event doesn’t stop once your virtual event is over. Now you’ve got this huge of database of people that have bought from you, that are interacting with each other. In other words, your virtual event has helped you shake out your tribe. So now that it’s over you can start to leverage that content, either by inviting more people to join or by offering more content on top of that. Perhaps you turn your virtual event platform into a membership website where then you do monthly expert interviews. You can charge an extra fee or you can offer that to your attendees at no extra cost. I mean oh, the possibilities are so endless when it comes to leveraging your content later on and fostering this tribe that you’ve just built. Oh my goodness Susan, I’m just getting so… I mean, the strategy here is just amazing.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, then you’re selling them on a continuity program, you’re billing them on a monthly basis a nominal fee to get updated information, ‘cause like you said, I used to use Facebook groups, now I use Word Press and WishList Member. Now I use Instant Teleseminar. I used to use, you know, Go To Meeting. And so you’re constantly evolving, the markets constantly evolving. You’re the expert; they want access to that. I love it.

Leesa Barnes: Yeah, and Susan I want to also add that there’s another powerful strategy here that I just want to make sure we don’t ignore, which is that some of you might be saying, “Oh virtual events, they sound great. They’re nice, oh yeah.” But, you know, I do training, I do workshops, I do training in classrooms, you know, and I don’t want these virtual events to take over that. So to that I say that there’s this whole concept of hybrid events, and that’s where you use your non-virtual event to fill your virtual event and vice versa. So one of the persons that has done this really successfully and has been doing this over the last few years is Alex Mondozian. And what he, he’s been training virtually for years and then what he does once a year is he has a reunion day event where he invites his students to come out to network, to meet him, and to, you know, go through a light training day. But the emphasis is on networking. And what he does is he charges a very small fee to cover his costs and invite his students to come on out. And usually what he does is he flies into a certain city and he’s there to speak or lead a workshop, then he’ll fly in the day before and run this reunion day. So you can use it like that, if you’re someone who trains virtually and you want to bring, and you want to fill a workshop in a city, that’s just a wonderful strategy. Or vice versa; maybe you’ve been doing training sessions all along in a non-virtual environment. You’ve noticed there’s this climb in the number of people attending your training sessions and workshops, as what happened to one of my clients, Mary O’Brien. She teaches a lot of internet marketing and just noticed a decline in people coming out to her training events. So then she employed a virtual event strategy and has really taken off. She hosts an annual event called AdWords Advantage. She attracts a few hundred people to attend. And then from that database she then offers a discount and invites those who attended her virtual event to come out to her training and workshops, and vice versa. For those who attended her training workshops in a classroom, she’ll give them a discount for them to attend her virtual event. So it’s a wonderful strategy. So if you’re thinking that virtual events, yeah, you know, “I’m a trainer, I’m a meeting planner. I don’t want to use it ‘cause I think it going to take over”, instead you should look at virtual events as helping to supplement what you’re already doing with non-virtual events.

Susan Bratton: I’m going to stop right here. I forgot to ask, could I give away one seat to the conference to my DishyMix fans? Then I can blast it to my whole list really well.

Leesa Barnes: Well actually Susan, lets do this. How about we give away 3 seats at the $97 dollar value? So I’m more than happy to give away 3 seats at the plan A level, and that’s the $97 value. And so Susan, you can work it out with your listeners how you want to give those way, but okay, so 3 seats at the plan A level, it’s $97 dollars, and Susan you and I will work behind the scenes so that once you identify who those winners are then we’ll be able to give them the registration details.

Susan Bratton: Okay. So we only have time for one last thing, and you and I have known each other for a couple of years now, and I’d love to talk more about sewing and what the hot things are in Toronto, but the one thing that I really respect about you Leesa and that I think more people should really step us and own is an efficiency trick of yours. Share it.

Leesa Barnes: Yeah, this is something I have learned once I got into my 30’s. When I was in my 20’s I wanted to please everyone, and so I did everything. And then it got to a point where I started to over-promise and under-deliver, and my professional reputation started to be tarnished and affected by this. So now that I’ve reached my 30’s and I’m a little bit smarter – probably not as smart as I’ll be when I reach my 40’s, but you know, I’m a little smarter now – and what I have done is I just say no to everything. I say no to everything, you know. I plan my promotional and sales calendar 12 months in advance, and unless it’s a really compelling event or program or product, I just say no. And that’s how I remain efficient in this busy world so that by saying no I don’t over-commit, I don’t over-promise. I maintain my professional standards and my integrity. And people respect me for that. They respect me for being able to be honest and not take on more than I can chew.

Susan Bratton: It’s brilliant to say no as much as you possibly can. And I think that if you knew that if someone was truly empowered to just say, “You know, I just can’t do that. I’m sorry. I’m focused on my deadlines and deliverables and, you know, I can’t get those done fast enough. I can’t take on another thing. And I really appreciate it and would love to help you but I can’t”, they’re okay with that. It’s all right, because it’s shocking if you are….

Leesa Barnes: It is.

Susan Bratton: somebody like you Leesa, whose definitely extraordinarily well connected, very out in the world, and doing something that has, it’s very hooky, you’ve got, you know, lots of things that could be done around what you do…

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: you’re just going to be bombarded with requests.

Leesa Barnes: Absolutely.

Susan Bratton: Yet if you say no in a nice way or if you just, if you ask for something and a person says, “No, I’m sorry”, I say, “Hey, don’t feel bad. I appreciate the no. I thought I’d ask”, and I’m glad you can say no if it’s not good for you – you don’t have time, you don’t have energy, you’re not interested, whatever – no worries. I asked, you said no. I’m good with that. I support that, you know. I just want to send out to everybody that I want you to say no to something today…

Leesa Barnes: Yes.

Susan Bratton: and feel good about it because you’ve actually done that person a favor, ‘cause if you said yes and you were cranky about it, you’re not really doing them a favor, right?

Leesa Barnes: Very good.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. All right, Leesa I am going to make sure that I post all these fabulous URL’s of yours, Virtual Event Cart, Virtual Event Bridge Line – I’ve got a list of your URL’s. I’m going to make sure they’re all on the page, and I’m going to let everybody know about virtualeventboom.com/susan. If you’re going to go check out this great virtual event about virtual events, please use my affiliate link so that my time is remunerated, and then the world goes around in a better way. So I wish you much success with this and all of your events Leesa, and anytime you want to come back onto DishyMix, you have an open invitation. We love you. You were super, awesome, helpful, interesting, fascinating, great, as I knew you would be.

Leesa Barnes: I love it. Well thank you Susan for that open invitation. I’m so happy we finally have a chance after two or three years I think to finally do something together, so thank you for having me on DishyMix.

Susan Bratton: My pleasure. All right, I’m your host, Susan Bratton. Thanks for listening in today. I hope we intrigued you with some great ideas about virtual events and I hope you’ll be on the call at virtualeventboom.com/susan. Have a great day. I’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.