Cultivating Community Through an Event Based Strategy
At our Orlando marketing agency, we believe that in building your business, it’s becoming increasingly important to try to build a community around what you do. Building a community fosters engagement both online and offline, encouraging people to share their thoughts and opinions and to make their voices heard. One of the best ways to cultivate a community of people is through an event based strategy. Most of the strongest communities I’ve seen are those in private clubs and membership organizations and are hugely events-based, hosting more than 300 events a year in order to help keep their members and communities happy while simultaneously helping them grow their networks. But even if you’re not a fancy private club or a networking group, you can still take advantage of the sense of belonging that an events-based community strategy offers to your customers.
Since the era of social media, the term “community”seems to have taken on a life of its own. To older people who aren’t actively using social media on a regular basis, “community”is synonymous with “social media,”which in reality is only partially true. A community manager’s job is to engage the community, and while social media may be part of that, so is blogging, email marketing and, of course, event marketing.
In order to run an effective event-based community strategy, it’s essential to know what your community wants. Do this by requesting information via survey data, with specific questions about what you think they might enjoy. Wine stores might benefit from tasting events and private wine classes for VIP customers, while luxury hospitality businesses might want to woo their customers with formal dining events and open bar cocktail parties sponsored by popular liquor brands. Depending on your business, it’s important to know the time of day people are interested in attending (breakfast, lunch, happy hour, evening or all-day events) and which day of the week they prefer (for instance, people who have 9-5 jobs and small kids may prefer family-friendly weekend events to after-work events). Responding to their needs also shows that you truly understand your target audience, which is extremely important for any business.
Oftentimes, businesses that are faring pretty well have no desire to explore other ways to generate more business, particularly because they don’t realize how much more money they can generate by doing so.[quote]The good thing is that businesses of any size can hold events for nearly any budget.[/quote] If you have a space and a reason for people to gather, the potential is there…and things like appetizers and beverages can only sweeten the deal. If you’re using the information from the survey data and you’ve been careful to find out the types of events interest your group, then you should have no problem identifying potential guest speakers or planning leisure activities that can also help facilitate community involvement around your business or brand.
The problem for many people is that events aren’t always direct revenue drivers. Take, for example, a lawn care company that hosts a free wine and cheese client appreciation event. This may cost several hundred dollars in securing a location, providing food and beverage, and lost work hours in planning the event. It may be even more if you plan to create signage or need to purchase nametags and other supplies. But, if that small event encourages your clients to share their experiences with their friends and colleagues, and one of those referrals turns into a new client for the business, then it was well worth the time.
Events are great because they can build online and impersonal interactions into more genuine connections. From a business perspective, this makes good sense because the more people are engaged with your community, they more likely they are to hang around. We’d love to help you connect with your audience at-large – contact us to determine how we can help craft your engaging event based strategy!