As a newly appointed bishop in the Church of Latter-Day Saints at the young age of 28, Kurt Francom wondered if he was truly up for the challenge of a five-year assignment to lead his local church.
The reason for Kurt’s trepidation was that the Church appoints lay persons with no formal training for leadership positions. So Kurt sought training to better equip him for his new role, but found little help available online.
This lack of church leadership training led to Kurt founding Leading Saints, a non-profit online platform with the mission of “Helping Latter-Day Saints Be Better Prepared to Lead at Home, at Church, and in Life.”
When the Pandemic struck, Kurt and Leading Saints found themselves in a fundraising bind like many other non-profits. With traditional in-person fundraising efforts limited because of social distancing regulations, Kurt knew Leading Saints had to pivot quickly to keep the non-profit afloat.
No More “Dialing for Dollars”
One significant strength that Kurt brought to the fundraising problem was his marketing degree. Although he didn’t pursue marketing as a career, knowing the fundamentals definitely helped him. Kurt knew that there was a better way to raise funds than begging for donations.
Instead, Kurt wanted to “trade value for value” in his fundraising. When Kurt chatted with marketing friends, he came across the idea of holding online summits to raise revenue. This meant a win/win for both Leading Saints and donors.
“I learned more and more about this concept of virtual summits. And so I thought, you know, I could do that. Maybe we could take one specific topic that a lot of leaders struggle with in our faith communities, and then we’ll create a virtual summit around it, do a deep dive with different guests and speakers. And that will be very valuable to have, and I’ll walk away with a library of content that we can continue to use in the future.”
This was a brilliant move on Kurt’s part that paid huge dividends (more on this soon.)
First, in case you are wondering how virtual summits are planned and executed, to follow is a brief overview.
How Virtual Summits Work
In broad strokes, virtual summits feature noteworthy speakers with expertise in the summit’s topic. Typically, a summit runs over several days.
Attendance is free; however, there is a catch.
If you want a recorded version of the summit, you must pay for it. As it is difficult for many people to commit to listening to the entire summit live, many gladly pay a fee to get recordings of the event.
This is the same basic format Leading Saints used for their first virtual summit.
While this first virtual summit wasn’t a huge success (it just broke even), it encouraged Kurt enough to give it another try. Eventually, Kurt put together nine different virtual summits, with varying results.
As Kurt was preparing to launch another Leading Saints virtual summit, a marketing friend suggested Kurt try UpViral to spread the word about the summit:
He added, “So I created an UpViral account and started building a campaign. My goal was to encourage people to not only sign up for the virtual summit but also to invite their friends to sign up for the virtual summit.”
It turned out that UpViral was the perfect tool to promote his virtual summit.
Inside Kurt’s Genius Virtual Summit Funnel
To help achieve this phenomenal result, Kurt put some solid marketing strategies into place.
He set up a free registration page for the summit, which took registrants to a page where they learned they could catch the sessions for free for the next 24 hours only. However, registrants had another option. They could donate $79 to receive an all-access pass to the sessions which entitled them to replays of the sessions.
If the registrants declined to donate, Leading Saints gave them a third option:
They could earn a free all-access pass to the event by sharing it with friends on social media. If five of their friends registered for the event, they received the free pass:
This strategy worked exceptionally well. People immediately grasped the value of what they could win, because they had already seen the all-access pass offered at $79. No fake, overstated prize value here.
Kurt also encouraged the purchase/share of the all-access pass by adding scarcity to the offer. The two free daily sessions were only available for 24 hours before they were pulled down and replaced by two new sessions. This scarcity helped to encourage both donations and shares for the summit.
Success Leaves Clues
By the time the summit started Leading Saints had already raised almost $20,000 with an ad cost of only $1000 with the help of UpViral. Eventually, the campaign raised almost $50,000 in donations and added 12,000 email subscribers to Leading Saints’ list in just 10 days.
While those revenue numbers are impressive, Kurt was just as ecstatic to grow his email list so quickly with the help of UpViral.
Kurt says: “Email is a form of currency online. And our current list is close to 30,000 emails, and a lot of that’s been generated from these virtual summits.”
A big part of the success of Kurt’s campaigns are because of his tireless research. Kurt searches for registration pages of other virtual summits and signs up for them. He studies emails and landing pages and figures out what makes them work. Then he takes inspiration from these campaign swipes and uses it to build future campaigns.
Now Kurt has the entire virtual summit process streamlined. Because UpViral makes it so easy to run a successful virtual summit campaign, Kurt puts together 3-4 every year.
About three months out from the next planned event, Kurt puts together his landing and share pages. Next, he invites the speakers, and pre-records their talks. (Pre-recording is much easier than dealing with tech glitches that occur during live events!) Kurt devotes the last month leading up to the event to a big marketing push to get the word out about the summit.
After nine virtual summits using UpViral, Leading Saints has collected over 30,000 leads and $250,000 in revenue. 🔥
Breaking Away from Traditional Non-Profit Fundraising
What excites Kurt most about hosting virtual summits is that it gives non-profits like Leading Saints a solid revenue stream without relying on old-fashioned fundraising efforts like gala dinners:
“A lot of nonprofits feel like they’re limited in some of their marketing efforts or fundraising or they have to do the old-fashioned ‘We’re gonna do a charity dinner and hopefully invite all of our rich uncles and pray that they write a check.
But really, that’s not the case, you can do it.
Exchanging value for value is a great way to fundraise for any nonprofit organization. And there are so many topics for virtual summits that no matter what your nonprofit is, or what it’s focused on, you can generate a lot of money with them. So I hope a lot of nonprofits realize there’s a lot you can do using a tool like UpViral to fundraise. You don’t have to do the old-fashioned beg and plead and hope that people write checks for your nonprofit.”
Another reason Kurt enjoys using UpViral is that it greatly reduces the need for Leading Saints to purchase ads to fill seats at their summits.
UpViral Eliminates Reliance on Pricey Lead Ads
After recent changes on social media platforms that limit ad targeting capabilities for religious groups, Kurt is thankful that UpViral allows him to skip advertising for leads altogether if he chooses.
However, if Kurt decides he wants to extend his campaign reach with some ads, his clever use of Lookalike Audiences on Facebook and Instagram has brought in 10x ROI with ads.
Kurt knows that his audience consisting largely of males aged 35-50 rarely spend much time on TikTok, Snapchat or YouTube so he doesn’t bother with these platforms.
Despite this spectacular ROI, Kurt states that:
“Even if we just break even with the Facebook ads, I’m happy. Because I know that each new lead once I get them into the system, because of UpViral, they’re going to be more likely to go out and share it so UpViral basically gets us leads for free.”
Another thing Kurt stresses is to just get your campaigns out there and tweak them as you go. Don’t try to make them perfect.
Don’t Obsess Over Optimizing Your Campaigns
Kurt has a lot of friends who are professional marketers, and show him all kinds of ways he could further optimize his UpViral campaigns with more tools.
But Kurt likes to just keep things simple, and not to obsess about how he could get even better results with his campaigns.
“Of course, we try different things going forward. But I also don’t want to confuse the audience. I don’t want to confuse those that come to the page with more bells and whistles. So sometimes I don’t optimize as much as I should. But I just tell myself, you know, that’s okay. These are very profitable campaigns.”
Virtual Summits Work for ANY Business
If you want to create a new profit center for your business with virtual summits, you don’t have to be a non-profit group. Nearly every business can get more leads, exposure, and sales from a well-planned and executed virtual summit.
If you’re excited about the possibility of holding your own virtual summit, here’s some great news.
UpViral now has the “Fill Your Event” template available for free inside our UpViral subscribers’ dashboards. Now, anyone can deploy an UpViral event funnel almost effortlessly (it also works for live events!)
Not an UpViral subscriber? Then grab yourself a 14-day UpViral trial for just $1. Kurt’s events last for ten days, so you have plenty of time to put UpViral to work for your next virtual summit.