How to Turn Your Meetup Group into Profits & Oprah-Sized Publicity
by Maritza Parra | March 2, 2011
"You can have the best product or service in the world, but if people don't buy, it's worthless. So in reality it doesn't matter how wonderful your new product or service is. The real question is will they buy it?" - Noel Peebles
Have you ever had a huge business opportunity "seem" to pop out of thin air..?
A few years ago, I was about to leave my house to go to a Meetup group I organized. My phone rang and the caller ID said "Harpo Inc".
Yes... that Harpo. One of Oprah's producers called little ol' me!
How and why did this happen? Because I built a platform for my area of expertise on Meetup.com. If I can do it, you can do it too.
Meetup is one of the 1st social media sites that came into existence before anyone had heard the phrase Social Media. It's the perfect place to build a local following and bring more profit and publicity to your business. Meetup is seen as somewhat grass-roots groups & communities of like-minded people. It's still very under-the radar for business. So it feels like you're building a local community tribe, while highlighting your expertise, products and services.
Some examples of successful Meetups:
- A running store that hosts running clinic Meetups in their store. They have people walk about with gear they bought there.
- Attorneys and accountants who give a talk. They come out with clients.
- Therapists talking about helping people cope with the divorce process.
My 1st meetup was all about self-empowerment. It was the reason I was able to create a 6 figure coaching business. It got me interviewed by Oprah. I was making it up as I went along. Even so, I learned a ton about what to do to create a popular and profitable Meetup. And I learned a ton about what not to do to create a popular and profitable Meetup. I ended up with coaching clients and creating meditation and journaling products I sold to group members.
Today I'm going to share some important tips about why Meetup is important and how to start one.
There are a lot of different reasons to start your Meetup group. Here are some of the biggest ones:
- It's the 547th most trafficked website in the world. People are looking for expertise, information and community on very specific topics
- to position yourself as a leader / expert
- to lead people in activities and teach them something new, while marketing your business.
- to become a star in your own backyard.
Meetup is a place to create your platform. For speakers and authors, Meetup is a resource that can help you get noticed in your local area. If you are consistent with your group, deliver quality content and topics, your Meetup will grow. The more eyes and ears you have, the more interesting you will be to local media and more.
Ultimately you are always positioning you and your business as a trusted resource - with resources and products to sell.
One of the differences between Meetup and other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is that it's a paid tool. The fee is as low as $12 per month. Some things Meetup organizers have done to offset this cost are to get a sponsor, collect annual dues, collect an event fee, etc.
I have never charged people to attend my weekly Meetup groups. I want as many attendees as the venue will hold. Rather than charge a fee to attend, I offer my coaching, products and services after people get a taste of my expertise.
Some tips on starting a successful Meetup...
1) Use a great headline. The default page headline is "Welcome". Many people leave that but it's a terrible, unimaginative and unprofitable headline.
A much better Headline would be benefit driven. What will a potential member get out of joining your Meetup?
Wasted Headline vs Good Headline
Welcome vs. Your Teenager's Future: Jail or Wealth
2) Use keywords in your Meetup address. Here's a great new feature of Meetup that didn't exist when I began my first one in 2006. You can have a custom web address you choose for your group that has keywords in it. Choose these carefully. This will determine whether search engines will find you relevant for people searching for your topic.
3) Tribe members. Call your Meetup members something different than simply "members", Meetup's default name. This is all about building your tribe. Some creative names are "Future Millionaires" "Chihuahua Lovers" "Single Hotties"
4) Your Meetup topics. Carefully choose the topics of your Meetup. Your group will be listed in their directory under each topic you choose. Clearly choosing your topics is extremely important.
A few days after you have set up your group, Meetup will automatically send an email to everyone in your local area who has expressed an interest in those topics. "Hey. There's a new Meetup. Would you like to be a part of it?" So they begin to market for you!
5) Get Physical. When you sign up for a Meetup group you must pledge to create a real face to face community. So you should at least once, no matter what you're doing, have a one time face to face meeting. This does not mean every Meetup you organize must be face to face. You could have a physical meeting every few months. Then follow up with virtual Meetups in between, such as teleseminars and webinars.
6) Automation & Convenience. Meetup groups are seen as a community, as a tribe. So people will tend to have their guard down for this. Emails from Meetup groups get opened more than regular emails.
You can opt to have a forum inside of your group where your email broadcasts and reminders are automatically posted. So your members can check there if they don't use email (particularly for the younger generations).
There are automated reminders for each Meetup event that go out to all members, and you can upload files to your Meetup group.
When I did my first Meetups, I created lots of handouts with information where people could hire me or buy resources from me. I would actually print those handouts and bring them. Then my Meetup group grew so large that I would have had to print out hundreds of pages which didn't make sense.
So, I started adding a downloadable action guide or a worksheet. Make sure your contact information or information about your resources are always included in the doenloadable handouts. Members would print them out and bring them. (and there was a handy dandy hyperlink to my products and services too)
7) Market Research. You can do polls and just add the questions of your members. This is great for market research. What do they want to learn from you? Now you can continue to give them that kind of information.
When members are RSVPing for an event, you can also add a question. This is great for knowing what kind of people are going to be attending your Meetup. In this way you can customize your presentation to fit their needs.
Another alternative is to include the information they are looking for that will help them hire you or buy from you.
Meetup is one of the most underutilized marketing tools that can help you build a following and create a 6 figure coaching income quickly.
Maritza Parra trains and coaches entrepreneurs to use the principles of self-empowerment combined with easy and powerful tools of the Internet to create financial freedom and abundance. After being featured on "Oprah & Friends: The Soul Series" Maritza became an expert at creating products quickly via TeleSeminars, eBooks, Video and other Easy Product Creation Strategies. Known as the Product Creation Queen, Maritza now teaches her students how to create products from their gifts, knowledge and talents. One of her gifts is the ability to show you how to quickly get your ideas out of your head and into your bank account. Maritza teaches from her private membership sites and at the Hacienda, her Retreat Center in San Antonio, TX. www.MaritzaParra.com
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Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps entrepreneurs to creating business value that transforms their world. She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for WomenEntrepreneur.com & Fox Business online. She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops. She can be reached at http://www.chialichien.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.