So, your small business already has a website, social media channels, maybe some online and print paid ads and you have a decent word of mouth advertising. What can you add to set yourself apart from your competition and grow your small business? There are lots of resources out there, so, in this blog series we’ll focus each post on an easy one that will work and yet a ton of small businesses either don’t know about them or haven’t fully leveraged them yet. First one up is to…
Start or Join a Meetup group
I’m starting with this idea because I’ve suggested it to several small business owners who don’t even know it exists. Meetup.com is simply a place to find groups of people around you who meet in person to do stuff. It’s that simple. When I started a tea company, I started a Meetup group simply because I was interested in tea and wanted to find other people who were as well. I was looking for community and found it, along with an easy focus group to test ideas, feedback from A/B testing, great resources in the form of people who knew a ton about tea and yes, some customers.
Small business experts are expecting a large “pent up demand” to be satisfied in the coming months (and maybe years) for people to get out and meet with people in person, in public. If you have a brick and mortar store, this is already good news. You can leverage even more business by getting people together, in person, around a passion that relates to your business. If you’re starting a Meetup group from scratch, offer to meet at your actual business if that’s possible.
Here are just some of the pros to starting a Meetup group:
- You can join a group for free as a member and they offer a free trial on a subscription to be an “organizer” and create up to 3 groups.
- You have a built in audience you can email. I’d advise using a light touch with this feature as far as direct marketing emails. If the group sees it as being too “salesy”, they’ll stop reading them. You’ll have plenty of time at your events to talk about your business. In most of the emails, try to stick to the topic or passion. Building that passion will be good for your business.
- It’s not a bad way to find some good employees. Since you’ve spent more time with the Meetup peeps than you would during an interview and you can see more of the real person, you might snag your next employee of the month.
- Meetups are a great way to test out some products or ideas. Rather than either guessing or assuming what your customers want, why not go to the source and directly ask people who you already know are interested in your business’s product. I asked people at the tea Meetups what they’d want in a tea shop and people were more than happy to tell me everything from what kind of tea they like to what kind of seating they’d prefer (floor seating came up a lot in the tea-drinking crowd).
Don’t be intimidated or overthink this. Just do it. There is no set format for these groups. It’s simply people who meet up in person around a common interest. I simply got people together somewhere (sometimes at a business, sometimes at someone’s house) and we drank tea and talked. That was it and we grew to a group of over 450 members of local people who liked the exact thing I was trying to sell. As far as marketing for that small business, it was very effective and I made some great connections that helped the business grow.
1. Go to meetup.com and look to see if there is a group meeting around an interest related to your brand. If there is, go to their next Meetup and network it up. If there isn’t already a group, start one. It’s super easy.
2. Write down some ideas of questions you’d want to ask your potential customers and ask people at the meetup group. Maybe new product ideas, feedback on existing products or simply ask what people want out of a business like yours. In my experience, people respect the humility and will be very helpful.
3. Go to your first meetup. Whether you started or just joined a group, go meet some peeps and get stirred up again about why you’re so passionate about your biz!
More small business marketing tips to come so stay tuned! Also, let me know what you think about this small business marketing idea in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading!
Since you’re here…
We make frustration-free websites for you so you can spend your time on your business.
Like what you read? Share with some friends on social media with these links.