Small Business Management: Events for Marketing
Topic: WorkingPoint News | Comments (1)
While Social Media promotional and marketing methods are getting a lot of buzz and everyone is talking about how to use SEO to optimize your business website, “old fashioned” marketing strategies aren’t getting the same praise or attention from small business bloggers. There’s always something new on the marketing horizon, whether it be geolocation or flash sales, but the excitement over the potential of a new idea shouldn’t detract us from putting some energy into some tried and true tactics as part of a diverse, multi pronged maketing and PR strategy.
I’m a huge advocate for social media and technology. However today I want to advocate for a marketing tactic that can be done tech free. Some might even call it downright old fashioned. It involves stepping away from your computer screen and meeting people in real life. It’s also fun.
I speak of course, of events. Whatever the size of your business, it’s possible to plan an event which will bring you face to face with your clients, generate new advocates, build and nurture a group of key influencers, or develop fruitful potential partnerships and promotional opportunities. If you love technology, and using it in creative ways, social media can help you get people to the event, and parlay the event into branding and promotional opportunities afterwards.
Summer is a great time for events, especially fun, outdoor events or social events. Mashable is as we speak doing their annual Summer Tour. WorkingPoint is planning our own “WorkingPoint Wednesday” office warming party series to meet the other great companies at our new office space.
One great example of effective event based marketing for a small business is a local company that I love called Moxsie. In addition to a wonderful mission (supporting independent designers), and an admirable social conscious (a portion of all proceeds is donated to charity), they also do a really stand out job of building community, brand awareness and marketing through events.
The Moxsie Event formula is one that can work for almost any business regardless of size, or what you are selling. These tips, gleaned from Moxsie’s stellar example, will help you develop a strategy to use events as a way to promote your business and build community around your brand.
1) STAY TRUE TO YOUR BRAND, MISSION & VALUES IN YOUR EVENTS
Moxsie is dedicated to promoting independent brands. They actively support “independent artists” both by exclusively selling and developing independent fashion vendors and by choosing charities to support that promote independent business. Their choice to create a series of events called “Street Eats”, an event calendar based on the independent food movement (also know in the Bay Area as the street food or street carts) actively reflects their mission and therefore their brand. This street food calendar, created by Moxsie, is a recurring opportunity for them to connect to people with similar interests, creating new advocates, supporters, interesting business partners and more.
The photo above is from one of these events and it’s truly great advocacy for their business. If you are young, fashionable and socially conscious then a photo like this is genuine (not staged models!) and appealing. These are real, cool, stylish people having fun. It’s a powerful incentive to want to be part of their “movement”, and you can participate by buying their clothes.
2) WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT
The Moxsie office is in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the independent food movement is getting a lot of press and attention. It’s something that already exists here, and it seems like the Moxsie team just genuinely likes the food and was already eating at these places. Rather than dedicating a lot of time or resources into finding something new, look at what you’re already doing and make an event out of it. Do you work from a local coffee shop everyday? I bet other people do too… see if you can arrange for a “regulars” event or coffee tasting and look for interesting partnership opportunities. Could you get your existing vendors to bring extra gear for a trunk show and provide some snacks for a special event? Why not reward your best customers with a special party or a first look at a new item (Moxsie does this really well with their special pre order first look website) Do you have a new feature or product launching, why not throw a party to celebrate? Creativity is great, but you are a busy small business owner so work with what you’ve got!
3) EVENTS SHOULD BE FUN
Always. Avoid over programming, avoid too much information or too much selling. People want to come out to an event, meet other people, “network”, learn a little bit (but not too much) about you, and make new friends. You can build the event around your brand in a professional way true to your brand but ultimately if busy people are going to be spending time with you, they want to enjoy themselves. The easiest way to kill the fun at an event is to over program or aggressively try to brand it. Yes, your name should be out there and you should get credit for throwing it. But you should also be confident enough in yourself and your business to know that people can come, meet you, learn a little bit about what you do (hopefully in a casual relaxed way), and then have such a good experience that they come back for more of whatever it is your selling. Food and drink are pretty much essential, but it doesn’t have to be something fancy and there are great ways to keep costs low!
4) FOLLOW UP
Find a good way to capture information from your event attendants and follow up. The more personal the better. Technology has made photosharing easier than ever, and people love seeing fun pictures from a good event. Tweet, Facebook, use all that great social media technology to sustain the energy of an effective event. Follow up afterwards is equally as important as having a successful event. Send thank you notes, send thank you emails, use social media… just follow up afterwards so your great efforts wont be in vain!
All this new technology has made it easier than ever for other people to advocate for your brand, but events is a really great “old school” way to start building these relationships. No matter how much time I spend on Social Media (and trust me it’s a lot), nothing is a substitute for real face to face interaction!