If you’re a Small Business owner or marketing professional in a small business, you undoubtedly find yourself at a point where you go to networking events and keep running into the same people over and over again. The monotony is not only mind-numbing but it’s also bad for sales as you’re not building new leads for your “trusted referral partner” network by seeing the same folks all the time. Well, worry no further as Meetup™ is here! Er, they’ve been here for more than a decade, but we won’t mind that little detail. So, what is Meetup and why does it matter to Small Business marketing?
MEETUP, THE MOVEMENT
September 11th changed the world; strangers helped strangers that day in remarkable ways Scott Heiferman recognized. He wanted to keep that momentum going and it became the inspiration for Meetup.com. Meetup, according to their own website, is:
Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.
Meetup’s mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.
I enjoy seeing the “Do something • Learn something • Share something • Change something” motto when you visit Meetup.com before logging in, and that’s the essence of what makes the platform so versatile. I feel like they should add “in real life!” to that message because that’s the key component to what I think Meetup does. It bridges the digital-analog divide so many of us face today with digital (email, phone and text message) and Social Media communications as our primary business contact throughout the workday (and perhaps even more so in our personal lives, trying to stay in touch with family and friends with ever-increasing work hours and workloads). All the Meetups are live, in-person group meetings coalesced around a shared interest. And, what does this have to do with your Small Business marketing efforts you ask? Read on!
SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING ON MEETUP
Whether you’re trying to build your Small Business brand, increase sales to your local boutique or retail shop, or want to learn how to build a smartphone app, there’s a community of not only your target audience on Meetup but also like-minded small business entrepreneurs getting together to help you! That’s the power of Meetup! These meetings are usually free (though I believe in the give-what-you-can model since it does cost Meetup Organizers to create a Meetup group on Meetup.com and other administrative costs, plus the value of their time), you can see who’s going, and you can ask questions, share and collaborate before and after the get-together through Meetup.com.
I know that today with the proliferation of Web marketing, it’s easy to think that focusing as much of your resources on your Web presence is important but even I (a Web and digital business strategist) think that all the Web has to offer is worth nothing if it doesn’t make our physical, real world lives better! So, sign up for a Meetup account today, type in your industry, professional, service or product (or a current challenge facing your business), and RSVP for a Meetup in your community soon! You’ll be glad you did.
- Meetup.com: 10+ years organizing thousands of groups (cbsnews.com)
- Flickr Announces New Meetup Site (webpronews.com)
2 replies on “Meetup — The Small Business Marketer’s Paradise”
Ray, great article! As a small business owner (I own the Mindful Hands gift shop in Old Town), I am a BIG fan of Meetup as a tool for extending my business brand. Two methods that I have found to be successful in using Meetup are to:
(1) sponsor Meetup groups that are within your target market. Businesses can do this either by directly sponsoring a specific group (usually paying all or part of the group’s Meetup fees) and/or offer perks to Meetup groups. A perk can be anything from a discount to a free gift or anything else the business may want to offer.
(2) offer a space for the groups to meet in. Through Meetup, you can set up your business as a meeting venue (assuming you have a space available) and offer it to particular groups within your market.
My shop currently sponsors over 2,100 members in 22 meetup groups. Eight groups use our community room for their group meetings. Defintely a win-win for everybody!
Great work on Meetup, Sally! I will be discussing some of these more advanced marketing tactics for Meetup in a future post and those are some great ideas for business owners to start! Thanks for contributing!