Q: “I am an esthetician, and I just started a natural skincare meetup group. I want your suggestions and ideas to make it successful. This is my first effort to reach out to people who are conscious about their skin, to help them with suggestions to improve their appearance. I have seen on your blog and website how you encourage people to gain self confidence. I admire that, and believe that you are the right person to go to seek advice.”
— Promila Sharma, Kayantra: All About Wellness & Beauty, Fremont, CA
dM's Answer: “Promila, how exciting that you are interested in leveraging live meetings to connect people as you also promote your business and pursue your passion. I have been hosting live events for several years — some of them tiny and others larger. Regardless of the size of the event, there are a few things you'll want to make sure you do to maximize your chances of success. Here are some tips to help you get started on strong footing.
- What's in it for me? This is the first question people will ask. They may not say it out loud, but they want to know exactly what they will get in exchange for taking their time to meet with you. Do they get a discount on your services? Will a wellness speaker share tips to build self-confidence? Will they be entered into a drawing to win something? Giveaways? Prizes are not necessary, but they can't hurt. Either way, be prepared to help people quickly see the benefit TO THEM of attending your event.
- Be purposeful. Have specific goals in mind. What action do you want people to take as a result of attending your event? It can be as simple as signing up for your newsletter or Liking your FaceBook Page, or it can be something more significant — like buying a monthly subscription to your esthetician services.
Knowing what you want to achieve will help you direct your efforts and structure the events to achieve specific goals.
- Connect with other business owners. Meetup is a great way to promote an event on a budget, but a simple meetup listing is not enough. Connect with other small business owners in your area who can help you spread the word and who might be interested in connecting with the same types of customers you are.
For example, is there a massage therapist who might like to co-host or help with the event somehow? Perhaps a yoga instructor? Or a chiropractor? These types of businesses are in fields similar to yours, but are not competing with you. They may help you promote or do some type of joint venture.
You'll also want to promote your event via your FaceBook Page, Twitter, and your blog and newsletter (if you have them). Ask your friends to share the event as well.
- Create a record of your event. Use still photos, video, and text blog posts to share the fun had by all at your event. Even a small turnout is worth capturing for future reference. When people see that others like-minded people had a good time at an event hosted by you, they are more likely to want to attend in the future. Capitalize on the moment by taking pictures and sharing them, along with testimonials, so you can build on your early successes.
Another option is to attend an event hosted by someone else so you can get your feet wet and meet people without having to set up everything yourself. The perfect opportunity is to host Indie Business WorldWide MeetUp in your town on January 14, 2012.
As you grow your business and increase your events, take special care to create and nurture new relationships. No one should leave your event without having an opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter and/or blog, or Like your FaceBook Page. Whether they are new customers, new prospective customers or other small business owners, capture their information so you can stay in touch with them — and give them your information as well.
There's a lot more to effectively using live events to promote a business. It's a lot of work. At the end of the day, the best events are part of a systematized marketing plan. After the first few events, you'll have better idea of what people like and what they don't like. You'll also know how often you should have your event, and on what days and at what locations. There's a lot to think about, but once you have a few under your belt, you can build events into your business model. Once that happens, the sky is the limit!
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