Our guide to setting up a Meet-up
Over the last four years our monthly meet-ups have been fun, informative and a great place to network. This guide has been written to help you create meet-ups in your city.
For us the meet-up is an excellent foundation of other community activities and provides contacts and opportunities to get deeper into the group of digital marketers in the regions we operate. Over the years we have been running it we have discovered a few useful things:
- They should not be sponsored. We want to keep the meet-ups broadly neutral and about the attendees rather than create an environment where one business gets apparent priority
- It should be on a paid bar basis – when we have offered free or sponsored drinks we tend to get people going for the wrong reasons
- The meet-ups should always be about encouraging networking and people chatting to each other. The content part is a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than the purpose of the events.
In the actions lists below we have set out the overall view of the process from start to finish. It is our aim to give you as much support as possible and will certainly take responsibility for the bulk of the marketing as well as the online presence and data handling. We will also handle that the marketing and event confirmations communications. Obviously whatever you can add at a local level will enhance the events and help consolidate your role as central to the local communities.
We like the idea of having the meet-ups in the same place at approximately the same time each month. The venue should ideally have:
- A space where we can meet as a discrete group
- A small stage
- A projector
- A pay bar
- Not have a hire charge!
When looking for a venue we have used the following arguments with bar owners:
- We have an audience of 350k people that your bar / club gets marketed to every month generating you fantastic word of mouth with your target customer
- We provide your customers on a night of the week when your bar would be dead and lacking custom
- The customers we bring you are senior marketing folk who like to have a few drink and more so will become your customers / return to the bar
- Our monthly events in London now well established draw audiences of between 100-250 people we’d like to work with you to establish a regular monthly club house to bring you similar level of trade
- Most of these bars are spending on advertising and run corporate events that are few and far between. As our audience are marketers these are the people that would book these bars.
Having a good and supportive venue is an important part of running successful meet-ups and this is something that we ask you do arrange for your area.
The idea for the meet-ups is that they are predominantly about networking and meeting people, but a couple of good speakers do act as a hook. We limit it to two speakers to ensure the correct mix of networking and content.
When we brief speakers we use the following outline:
- 20 minute presentation, aimed at provoking thought or starting conversations
- Emphatically do not use this as a sales opportunity – it is about making yourself look good, not about spending 20 minutes to talk about your brand!
- Try not to let the Q&A go on for too long, let people network and get to the bar between speakers
- Think of the presentation as a quasi TED talk
- Always useful to get their presentations before the event – (but not common!)
- Get speakers to appear 30 minutes before doors open to hand over presentations or do a tech check
Speakers are easy to find and we already have good lists of people who have offered to speak. We try and theme an evening to a certain degree as it makes the marketing much easier. We generally find the first speaker by serendipity and match the second to the first. Generally we try and book them no more than three months out to ensure the momentum is maintained with a speaker.
At a local level we will ask you to help source, make contact with, and to confirm the speakers and to take some responsibility for establishing the programme. We are happy for you to use our name and brand whilst you’re doing this and will provide you with Digital Doughnut Community Activist business cards to help this process.
Marketing for the meet-ups goes through three phases:
- Initial launch – announcing the event. Run through Digital Doughnut and Digital Marketing group resources. This currently hits approximately 350,000 digital marketers and their networks
- The event goes live on Digital Doughnut (initially we will organise getting this put up based on information you send us, we will however ultimately give you the training required for you to access that part of the site and post events yourself)
- Social Media Campaign. We run a series of campaigns through our social media channels focusing on LinkedIn & Twitter. Don’t forget to get the speakers to message their channels and their companies
- Run-in marketing – email reminders and instructions about where the event is and the timings to all registered parties
On the night
On the night we mark the event with pop-up banners and try to have three or four members of Digital Doughnut in evidence.
- Get to the event 30 minutes at least before doors open to check tech set-up
- Put up pop-ups and branding
- Create a ‘holding slide’ (we will provide examples)
- Provide a laptop
- Check PA and ensure lighting is appropriate (where possible)
- Check the bar opening times and staffing levels
- Greet speakers
- Somebody needs to act as MC, introducing the speakers and doing a little background introduction to both the event and the concept of Digital Doughnut
- Speakers on (In the UK we have doors open at 6.30 pm and speakers starting at 7.10pm)
- 20 minute gap between speakers for networking
- Quick wrap up of evening content and look forward to next event
As an additional aspect of data collection we offer a prize draw for a bottle of champagne each month – we’re happy to discuss any ideas for local variants of this approach.
We post the slide decks to Digital doughnut and send out a link to those slides accompanied by a thank you for your interest message.
And repeat next month :)
Our support to you
We want this to work for all of us. We know the meet-ups in the UK are an incredible way to start really developing a regional community of digital marketers and would love this concept to spread around the world.
In general you will have our full support. We will:
- Create some Digital Doughnut business cards for you, to make it easier to spread the brand and enhance your role in it
- Pay for some branded pop-ups so you can create a focus for your meeting
- Market all the events through our LinkedIn groups (currently 355,000 members) and the Digital Doughnut site itself. (we are also happy to consider buying specific regional data to help develop the meet-ups and will discuss this with you)
- Create landing and sign-up pages on Digital Doughnut for each event
We would also like to feature all our community activists as experts on the digital doughnut site – so will be asking you for profiles and anything you want us to publish…at the end of the day we want to help you enhance your reputation!