Meetups: How leisure marketing pros can organize and sponsor them.

In my hometown, there are hundreds of meetups leisure enthusiast brands can sponsor.

Meetups are one of the most cost-efficent marketing strategies leisure brands can use to market to enthusiasts.

Meetups are social gatherings where people of like-minded interests gather to learn about a shared interest.

Right now they’re all the rage among outdoor enthusiasts in my home town of Denver. Currently, there are 86 meetups for hiking, 59 for camping, 50 for skiing or snowboarding, and 21 for cycling or mountainbiking,

If you’re interested in starting a meetup, Stephanie Marcus from Mashable recently wrote an excellent introduction for the American Express Small Business Open Forum.

Stephanie’s article outlined 10 tips to create a strong meetup:

1.  Ask yourself what you want to get out of your meetup.

Consider why you want to organize one. Find out how many similar meetup groups there are, and what yours could bring that’s different.

2. Create your meetup group.

The best website to do this on is Meetup.com. They make it easy to get started and offer a database  of 6 million to market your meetup.

3. Grow your membership.

The Mashable article recommends you build your membership before you organize your first meetup.  And be sure to promote it well in advance.

4. Decide on a format for your meetup.

Some meetups have speakers. Others panel discussions.  Others just meet and talk.  The goal in all cases is to get the conversation flowing.

5. Decide on a venue.

If your event is small, meeting in a private room at a local bar or restaurant may be fine. But as you grow, plan on bigger venues, and require RSVPs.

6. Make final preparations on the day of the meetup.

Call the bar to remind them you’re coming. Bring sharpies, name tags and your RSVP list.

7. Consider bringing in a sponsor or acting as one yourself.

Sponsorships are great ways to give the event a more professional feel, and to limit costs. Meetup.com will help you find or become a sponsor.

8.  As soon as you organize your first meetup, start planning your second one.

Talk to your initial members to see what will bring them back. Come up with innovative ideas that will position you positively in your industry.

9.  Stay connected with members in between meetups.

Use your meetup.com page and social networking tools like facebook to keep the conversation going between meetups.

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