Do you want a way to promote your local business with events?
Would you like to reach out to a local group of prospects with the potential to become loyal customers? Look no further than Meetup.com
Although it’s been around for over 12 years, Meetup.com is an extremely underrated social networking site. But, for those that use it well, it’s proven to be a huge success.
The goal of Meetup.com is to “revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize.” According to the Meetup.com website, more than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day.
Meetup.com has 23.03 million members, and 212,809 Meetup Groups in 179 countries. There are 532,953 monthly Meetups organized on the site. Many of these groups are focused around causes or events.
By its very name, the idea of organizing a Meetup involves a live event at which people meet in person. That is one of the terms and conditions that Meetup groups must adhere to.
There is also a small fee involved in starting a Meetup group, but you can choose from a number of payment options and three membership periods.
In this article, I want to show you how to promote a local business using Meetup.com to build a community of prospects that will turn into loyal customers.
Many local businesses lend themselves to promotion via events. Meetup.com can help them reach out to potential customers who enjoy live networking or rally them around an activity or a cause.
Here’s how to go about creating a Meetup group that will attract the right kind of prospects for your business.
1. Create your business personas
A business can have more than one persona for their customers. Understanding and creating your customer personas will give you a better idea of the kind of activities and events that each persona might be interested in.
For example, if you own a local travel agency and one of your customer personas is single women who love to travel as a group, you can’t possibly club them with couples with kids, because the two groups don’t have the same priorities and interests.
2. Start a Meetup targeted for each persona
Right now, organizers can lead up to three Meetup groups on a single Organizer Subscription plan.
If you have different customer personas that are very different from each other, the best way to attract them is to create a separate Meetup group for each one. That way you can customize the events and activities you organize to appeal precisely to each persona.
For example, single women without kids are usually willing and able to stay out later than families with small kids. So you might be able to organize a Meetup for them that goes on till the wee hours, while a Meetup for families with kids would have to start and end much earlier and have very different activities than one for single women.
Create separate groups for each target persona and promote events that give each group a taste of your ability to cater to their specific needs. Give your group a catchy name that defines the audience you want to attract perfectly.
For example, Travel Chicks NYC’s Meetup group has an excellent understanding of its target persona – women who want to travel the world with other women companions.
3. Promote your Meetup Group
Meetup.com makes it easy to promote your event because they will display it to local visitors when they’re searching for Meetups in your city. You can get your group off to a good start by using an attractive header image and writing up an introduction that defines exactly what you’re organizing and for whom.
This introduction will be the first thing that new members of your group see, so make sure it attracts the right kind of people. Also, add a couple of your more enthusiastic members as Organizers so that they have an incentive to promote your group to their own social networks.
You can also post about your new Meetup group and events on your blog. If you have a WordPress blog, you can use the WP Meetup plugin to promote your Meetup.
This plugin fetches event information from Meetup.com and creates posts for each event. It also provides an event calendar for displaying events on your blog, either on a page or as a widget.
Set up a Twitter profile and Facebook Group for your Meetup Group to give them another way to keep in touch and get updates about new events.
Start an email list for your Meetups and encourage members to join the list. Then send out notifications of new events to all members. Encourage your members to download the Meetup app on their smartphones so they don’t miss out on notifications.
Print up flyers announcing your local Meetup event and post them around your neighborhood. Encourage members to bring friends and to refer their friends to your group.
As a business person, you can sponsor your own events and write them off as a business expense, so it does away with the need to go hunting for sponsors. However, you can choose to charge for specific activities that you organize, such as travel or dining out.
What Sort Of Meetup Events Can You Organize?
Here are some ideas for the sort of Meetups you can organize for your ideal prospects.
Travel Agents – A travel workshop that offers single travelers tips and guidance on navigating the globe safely and economically. Or a Disney themed event for families with kids, that is fun for their kids, and introduces them to your Disneyland tours. For adventure travel freaks, you can organize a trek or a hike, or even a session of rappelling or kayaking to a location outside the city.
Business Coaches – If you’re a business coach who helps entrepreneurs scale up and grow their businesses, you can organize a workshop for entrepreneurs with talks that introduce the concept and importance of business coaching. Or you can organize a workshop on one aspect of business, such as hiring, so that they get an appetite for more information.
Groups like the Entrepreneur and Business Networking Meetup Group are the ideal group for a business coach to create because it will attract your ideal prospects. Here are some great tips for organizing workshops for entrepreneurs.
Restaurants – To get regular customers to your restaurant, you can organize a weekly or monthly Dining Out Meetup involving a menu prepared by a celebrity chef or featuring a local entertainer or band to liven up the meal.
Music Cafe – If you own a Café that features local or visiting talent, you can create a Meetup group to promote your events and attract more local music lovers. That way the musicians know they will be playing to a full house every time.
Digital Marketer – If you provide Digital Marketing services, you can organize a training session or workshop for local entrepreneurs, like the Mumbai Digital Marketing Connection Meetup does. It will give them an introduction to you as a person and also to your abilities and expertise as a digital marketer.
Wedding Planner/Dating Coach – Organize a Speed Dating Meetup to get future customers together. When they decide to tie the knot, they’ll remember who it was that brought them together.
Seniors Meetup – If you sell products to senior citizens, you can organize regular Meetups where they can get together with people their age and have a bit of fun.
Or you can organize a Meeup where they can interact with young people and learn something from them, such as this group that is Helping Senior citizens in Pune use computers. It will endear you to them and create a relationship that could lead to more business for you.
Holistic Healers – You can organize a workshop on your healing modality. For instance, if you practice EFT to relieve stress and emotional issues, you can hold a workshop on that topic to help potential customers understand how this technique works to heal their medical and emotional issues.
Bookstore – Create a Book Readers Club and hold regular Meetups in your bookstore, to discuss books that you’ve all read.
Even Google organizes a Meetup called the Startup Grind. It’s organized by ‘Google for Entrepreneurs’, that is helping Startup Grind grow their reach internationally and using Google tools to connect local chapters.
Tips To Liven Up Your Meetup
• Get an Expert Speaker
Having an agenda can make your Meetup more attractive for people who want to attend it but need a reason to do so. It also sets the tone for the Meetup, so your guests know what to expect from the event.
• Break the ice with a game or two
Playing games takes away the awkwardness that arises from meeting new people for the first time. Make it fun for your guests to network and get to know each other better. Charades, or a networking game, are ideal ways to break the ice and help your guests relax in each other’s company.
• Make sure there are tasty snacks
People usually remember if the food was bad at an event and will not want to return if you did not take care to help them remember you in a good way. A few tasty snacks can lift the mood and create a positive association with your Meetup.
• Don’t make it all about you
It’s tacky to organize a Meetup group and then make it all about you and your business. Your guests are not there to hear about you. They are there to meet people like them and bond over issues of common interest.
Give everyone a chance to speak and be the center of attention. Don’t hog the limelight all to yourself, even if you’re the one who organized it. Be authentic, be real and show your guests that you genuinely care about them.
• Involve a charity
People love to get together for a good cause, which a lot of the Meetup groups are about. Involve a local charity in your event, perhaps organize a small fundraiser for them or introduce the great work they are doing in your city. Your guests will leave with a warm feeling that they will ultimately associate with you and your business.
• Post pictures after the event
There are few better ways to get new members to join your Meetup group than with a follow-up post full of pictures taken during the event. When other Meetup users see that yours is a real group that organizes fun events, they will be more inclined to join. Also it will give inactive members an incentive to participate in upcoming Meetups.
The idea behind creating and organizing a Meetup for your business is that your customers get to meet you and know you in person.
People are more likely to do business with those they like and respect. Being the organizer places you in a position of authority and offers you a platform to showcase your abilities as a business person.
Creating a fun and joyful Meetup experience for your guests helps them associate you and your business with positivity and gets your relationship with them off to a great start. There’s no better way to start a business relationship with a new customer.
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