Small Business Outreach can start with a Meetup, not the famous app (Called Meetups), by bringing together like-minded people in your local area to interact or learn. It’s as old as the days when we sat together and braided each others hair or went out on a hunt together. It’s about bonding and bringing people together over like-minded topics.
Today is #UrbanWednesday and we are discussing Meetups and Why You Should be Using Them For Marketing Your Business. (Click to Tweet)
Let’s make a few glaring statements:
You should NOT:
- Treat Meetups as a TV Advert
- Bombard fellow members with spam
- Send repeated emails offering deals
- Sign them all up to an automatic email list without their consent
- Place them all on your training program at a ‘discount’ fee
At Toisc we aim to bring Goodwill to the people we meet and in that spirit, we also want to ensure you use your meetup in the same way. It should be a source of value to your members.
Meetup as a Way of Introduction
A meetup is exactly as it sounds. Friendly folks meeting up to do or learn something they either have an interest in (like photography and hill walking) or to meet other people who are working together to improve their mindsets and ultimately their lifestyles (Debates and ‘Mastermind’ groups).
There are many variants to the above, but they all fall into something that shares knowledge and skills with others while interacting with their members.
Note the word ‘interacting’ here as this will become the basis for your motivation to meetup with others and share your skills and knowledge and ultimately prove yourself.
Meetups should not be primarily thought of as a marketing tool, but they are certainly a way to market yourself and your business.
To manage your reach within the community you need to get out into it and become a part of it, and like anything we do, we all need to learn who is in our community. If you are based online, you more than likely have a community of people you listen to and associate with already.
Perhaps you have Twitter hashtags or forums that you are regularly active on. Facebook pages and groups are communities too and they all offer ways to meet with other members to share ideas and learn from each other.
It is no different when arranging a meetup in your local hall or at your local garage. People will find you and then signal they would like to be a part of what you are doing.
We Learn by Doing
A fundamental lesson I learned as a teacher and longtime student was that the main way we truly understand something was to do that thing.
Similar to learning all you can about marketing in a book, making notes and following up with more reading, it isn’t until you start doing, that the lessons and ideas make sense.
Take the cold call for instance. It is, at its very basic, a call to another human being who will benefit from your services. There is nothing more to it.
A bit like seeing someone on the side of the road with a puncture and you pull over to offer to help change the wheel or drive them to the nearest garage.
You see a problem and want to help.
It isn’t until you are on the phone that you realise there are plenty of obstacles to overcome to actually reach the person you want to help.
We can read all about these techniques to get us started. “How to get past the gatekeepers” and “How to talk through objections that a potential client may have”, but it isn’t till you have called a few hundred people that you understand what is going on and what you need to do to improve your technique.
There are plenty of ways of reaching your local community and that is what #UrbanWednesday is all about. A meetup is another tool you have at your disposal to reach out to those in your community and market yourself to them.
A meetup allows you to
- Meet new people
- Practice your techniques and strategies
- Learn new processes
- Open the door to objections you would never have heard before
- Become the go-to person on the subject
- Be an example of your ability and skill
- Become the face in a faceless community
You’ll be surprised that by offering a meetup that deals with, for example, plastering and the techniques and processes of improving your home, for 1-2 hours a month that your name as the expert will begin to get around as the person who is the go-to plasterer.
Perhaps you are trying to expand your wedding photography business and tried marketing in the usual ways. Why not put on a meetup where you talk about lighting or how to photograph people.
These are ways others will find you and also be aware of what you have to offer. It will become a vehicle that spreads by word of mouth. You are more than just another business, you are also a valuable asset to your community.
How to Leverage Your MeetUp
I want to make it clear that we are not talking about ensnaring people into your next big sales pitch, this is a value-driven commitment to first and foremost add value to your community.
That value will always be rewarded in new business later on because you chose to lay the foundations now.
Have you heard of Google?
Of course you have! They are the largest search engine in the world and a large majority of people use Google for every search they can think of.
You do not pay for that privilege, you don’t contribute to the website if you don’t want to, but you are given a massive amount of value.
That given value has resulted in Google being a respected profitable business. Even when they have done a few things wrong. (Like harvest wifi data while mapping streets…)
What Google get back in return for all our searching is a wealth of information which they can use to make searches better and more relevant, and they can also market to others how to improve their sales pitch to reach us better.
Today, we use Android on almost half of our phones we possess. We buy music and apps from the Play store and we continue to interact with Google for storage space and even vouchers.
There is so much value that is given that the return to Google is worth Billions. The same can be applied to Bing and Facebook, Twitter, even Snapchat. All are offering value before there is a sale and that is because trust needs to be built up first.
The Trust Game
Trust for some people is very awkward. They do not trust easily and they are quickly turned away if their trust is abused.
Before anything can happen between two people there needs to be a basis for trust.
Imagine walking down the street and a person walks up to you to ask for money. They are dressed in a suit and clean shaven. They say they need some money for a bus fare home and lost their wallet.
As humans, we take into account the whole scene when we trust someone. In this scenario, there is a problem. The person doesn’t fit the ‘look’ of someone who needs money and the story they are telling isn’t very convincing.
We move to turn away and the person continues to say that last week they lost their job, they have been in the city all day trying to find a new job and now that they have lost their wallet, and don’t have a way to get home, an hour away.
This story begins to sound plausible and a little trust is offered back by asking questions to find out if there is any truth to the story or if this is a way to extort money from innocent people as they walk past.
We do this all day long. We use our judgements and we trust certain signals from various people that are given off. Take the advertising campaign which is plastered across the billboard as you drive into work.
The local supermarket is having a sale and they write on the poster, ‘Better than half price’. Last year when you visited the store the bargains were brilliant. Based on that experience, this year that advert is telling you what to expect and builds upon your trust.
When you visit the store it is mobbed. People are pushing and the bargains really are incredible. The more that the store builds your trust the better the turnout and hence the sales associated with it.
A Meetup is about trust too. When we first meet someone new we are looking for all the signals that a person is being genuine and is trustworthy.
That is the reason you cannot think a Meetup is your way of aggressively marketing your business! You will not be genuine if you do not go with the intention of offering value first.
The Benefits of a MeetUp
There will be a few negatives… You give up your precious time, you need to organise and liaise with people. You need to give directions and then even direct them in the last few meters. Of course, there are obstacles but the benefits outweigh those negatives.
1. Meeting New People
This is going to be your chance to interact with different people who will become your mouthpiece. They will tell others about you and you will be able to talk about them. They will all have different personalities and they have their own ‘way’ of doing things developing your confidence in dealing with people.
2. Practising Your Techniques and Strategies
When you step out to show others what you are able to do and to show them your skills, you are opening the door to your expertise on a subject. You get to practice your own techniques and hone them so that they become second nature to you. You become more efficient at what you do.
3. Learning New Processes
As you work with your new group you begin to learn new ways of doing something. Sure you know the best way, but you never thought of another way until someone in the group asked you about it or tweaked your interest. The path of discovery is 2-way.
4. Opening the Door to Understanding Objections
In an intimate group setting, you will have a front row seat to learn why people dislike your industry or why they have no trust in similar trades. Perhaps it’s clothing, no customer care or follow up. Perhaps its a lack of advice. These will be your most valuable learning areas that your competitors won’t know and which you can improve on to become the best.
5. Be the Go-To Person
When you offer your knowledge you will also become the person who others turn to for advice and help. This is your brochure, the way you earn trust in your abilities and the way others will spread your business and trade to others. If you have staff, take them with you so you can show a united front.
6. Be the Example
As you grow your Meetups you will also have a basis for building up a portfolio of videos and photos of members who are succeeding at what they are doing. Share your experiences online in your own social media groups or on your website. Those attending will share what they do in your group with others too and the message will spread what you could never have achieved otherwise.
7. Become the Face in a Faceless Community
When you are marketing your business you want to be known as the person who is the go-to person for your business. When people begin to put a face to your business, it now becomes personal. (Think Virgin and Richard Branson connection here). Being part of a Meetup allows you to meet more people and really shine for your brand.
Improve your Network
Heading into the steady waters of Meetups you will no doubt find that along with those who are enjoying the experience of being with someone who knows their trade and offers their skills, there will also be opportunities to network with others in your niche area and in supporting it.
We all know that we cannot do everything as best as we may try but when we reach out to the community and offer value the return is greatest in the people who can work to fill in our weaknesses too.
Your network will grow and others who you can rely on to ‘help’ out will become a part of your team. Soon you will also be giving back to them by providing business opportunities because of your links.
Don’t be shy to engage with others who are working in a similar way to you. They may just be the support you need to grow your customer base. They may call on you and refer you if you have a skill they do not possess.
Our world is very much about engaging with other people and to further benefit our communities we live in. When we all work together we also have a network we can rely on and call on when in need.
The Best Till Last
Whether you want to discuss that warm fuzzy feeling or not, it is that feeling of giving something without expecting anything in return that is the highest value to our minds and bodies.
If you didn’t know that volunteering your services (See Should I Volunteer My Business Service for more) has massive benefits to your health, perhaps try it for a month.
Our time is the most expensive commodity we have, what you do with it makes the difference between happiness and despair. (Tweet this)
When we offer our time to further others’ development, we gain time in our own lives by receiving back relations and a network that will ease our burden.
Don’t aim to only get your marketing pitch out the way and then give a half-hearted attempt at a Meetup. This will damage your business and ruin your reputation. Aim to give value and market your ability to bring value to your community.
You will be surprised by the results that will be reflected back to you.