Online events and virtual teams, with Lizzie Brough

23 Sep, 2020 | Podcast, Season 4

Can online summits help you reach a wider audience? And how easy is it to keep remote teams motivated and feeling connected? If you’ve considered hosting online events or wondering what the long term impact of remote working will be then you’ll want to download this week’s Whin Big podcast.

This week Katie meets Lizzie Brough from HeySummit. They share marketing tips around building case studies and talk about using online summits as a way to capture leads. They also talk about managing virtual teams and the differences in working with start ups and small businesses.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Let’s jump into the episode.

Today’s episode is sponsored by our Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist will take you through all the most important things you need to get right in your Instagram marketing. Click below to sign up for the free training and download the checklist.

HeySummit is a virtual summit organisational platform which has grown from 6 in the team to 18 in the last couple of months. They work hard at supporting businesses of all sizes to convert events that are traditionally in person into the online sphere. 

Where the idea came for HeySummit

Like most great things – the company started by accident after HeySummit founder wanted to find a solution for an online event he was organising.

Over several weeks in 2018, he built a brand new platform to fulfil the tasks he needed and within a short time hosted a 100+ person event through it. HeySummit was born!

Lizzie explains that the purpose of the company wasn’t to create online events as a replacement for the real experiences, however the company was in the perfect position to step in and support business owners when Covid-19 stopped face to face events.

“Our main audience continues to be those people we created HeySummit for. Solo entrepreneurs, coaches, business owners who want to amplify their voice and stretch their brand globally – instead of just marketing locally. Summits are an excellent way to do that.” – Lizzie

The future landscape – post Covid

Katie and Lizzie discussed the possibility of online summits and events becoming more mainstream as a result of people having more experience with virtual events throughout 2020.

Lizzie is convinced that for every one person keen to continue with the online experience, there is another keen to get back to in-person events. Both agree that online events are here to stay, and they identify several barriers for not wishing to travel on a national – or global – level to attend conferences.

Carbon footprints, childcare, accessibility and budgets all come into the mix. The real challenge for online event organisers is keeping virtual sessions fresh and vibrant.

“People know online events now. But does that mean they become samey? How do you make them stand out? How do you make it be of impact and not just a list of online webinars? Where’s the engagement? Where’s the fun? That’s the really exciting part for me.” – Lizzie

Working in a tech startup

Katie’s curious about what it’s like to work in a tech start-up. As one of 8 children, Lizzie’s pretty cool about it. She works well in a fast paced, chaotic and challenging environment. She thrives on the opportunities, excitement and risks. For Lizzie, she doesn’t feel like she’s part of the tech world – she feels like she’s making an impact and using technology to do that. 

Integrating someone new into a remote team

The first question HeySummit ask when onboarding a new team mate is ‘how early?

How early can they:

  • Meet the rest of the team – frequent face to face contact is essential
  • Have informal conversations
  • Tap into the business systems
    • HeySummit live on Slack, in case you’re wondering! For team HeySummit, Slack offers way more than the transaction, essential project and team management stuff, it’s also about sharing gifs, talking about TV episodes and other social interaction stuff we take for granted in a physical office.

The importance of customer discovery in marketing

HeySummit has a strong focus on learning from their audience base. In the past they’ve conducted surveys and emailed questionnaires, but quickly recognised App Sumo as a great platform to tap into vast amounts of feedback.

They found that the majority of users were entrepreneurs, solo entrepreneurs or people working in the ‘passion economy’ (people with a side hustle).

What they had in common was that they wanted to amplify their message and generate leads.

Blog content 

The company recognised early on that blog content played a vital part in the way HeySummit could get their message out. With blogs they could respond to topics like:

  • The scenarios for using HeySummit
  • Who might you be if you leverage the tool
  • How can we describe how to do that
  • How to talk to customer pain points

Initial marketing 

After researching thoroughly, HeySummit began marketing through the early adopter audience, in particular:

  • Creating video content
  • Email drip campaigns
  • Blog contents
  • Hosting regular conversations

“Using every opportunity, every contact you have with a customer to glean something – not just about what they want from you – but who they are and how they like to work is very important so business owners can learn a lot from that.” – Katie

What can you do if you just don’t hear from your customers? 

Lizzie looks at customer feedback as something that can be learned in many different ways. If you don’t get feedback from your own customers, look at their shopping behaviours. She gives an example of being an organic soap company – what else would those customers buy? Wholefoods? Ethical goods? Sustainable products? How do they interact with those purchases?

Even if you don’t have the data for your own audience relationship you can still assess their ‘why’- what is their value set? This can help you understand what drives them and apply to your own setting.

Marketing through social media & podcasting

The company focussed on customer service and the early adopter community long before looking to social media.

When they were ready to move into social media they started with Facebook and LinkedIn content, with LinkedIn performing best. The business launched a podcast called Authentic Work and focussed on LinkedIn live as their mainstream for podcast content – which has been an excellent marketing tool.

“Our podcast is called Authentic Work. It’s about having honest conversations with people instead of it being about ‘here’s how I did X to sell my product,’ which doesn’t ring true for us. It doesn’t sit with our values and it gaslights people. Building on the shame of you’re not good enough, you don’t have enough and you are not enough.” – Lizzie

Actionable takeaways 

As you know – Katie loves to get an actionable takeaway from Whin Big podcast guests. This week she grills Lizzie on how HeySummit produce their epic case studies on their website.

Lizzie – and the company at large – love case studies as a format. They call them Customer Spotlights and they showcase individual summits using the HeySummit platform. Questions focus on the event and creates an anatomy using questions over zoom.

“When you have customers, do all you can to enable them to tell their story. That’s far more powerful than telling your brand story. If I look at that I can put myself in someone’s shoes. I can see I have that challenge. HeySummit the brand is just the conduit to doing that.” – Lizzie

Business bookshelf

Katie and Lizzie talk about their favourite business books and Lizzie is a big fan of books on leadership and self development. 

Dare to Lead – Brene Brown*

Pitch Anything – Oren Klaff*

The Founder’s Dilemmas – Noam Wasserman*

Resources mentioned in this week’s podcast

HeySummit Blog

Case study with Wes Bush (with the North Star metric) – Growth Strategies Made Simple

Case study with Doc Williams – Lead Generation for the Insta Generation

Authentic Work – the HeySummit Podcast

App Sumo

REthink2020 Summit

Follow HeySummit

Find Lizzie on Ttwitter  

Connect with Lizzie on LinkedIn

Visit the HeySummit website

* Links marked with a star are affliate links to When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!

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