Marketing through Meetups – reach the niche

Marketing through Meetups – leveraging niche communities to broaden your reach

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Meetups were one of the pioneering groups when people still referred to the internet as the world wide web and there was no such thing as Facebook or iPhones. As an organizing principle they are beautifully simple and targeted: form a group around a common interest or passion, and literally meet up regularly in a local neighbourhood venue to share ideas, talk, network and form relationships.

ProductTank MTL runs a series of themed monthly Meetups in Montreal, featuring three speakers from local businesses sharing their ideas, strategies and insights working as product managers or founders in technology companies.

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The most recent event (it’s 14th edition!), held at Groove Nation in the Plateau, centred on EdTech and featured Roberto Cipriani, CTO of GradeSlam, Renaud Boisjoly, CEO at Studyo.co, and Hiba Fanta, Product Manager at E-180.

CK4A0056.jpgThe evenings are a nice mix of learning and networking with peers, and there are often job openings advertised, from the presenting companies and an open mic for anyone else in the audience looking for new talent. If I were looking for a new gig in tech, I’d be attending these and other Meetups like these regularly.

There are hundreds of Meetups in Montreal alone, whether you’re interested in Ecommerce, Learning, Food & Drink, or simply trying to meet other people if you are new to the city. There’s even one for Digital Nomads.

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Hiba Fanta, Product Manager at E-180.com

Meetups are a fantastic way to bring people together but their use could also be an easily accessible business development tool for instigators and marketers looking to grow their influence. Just a few groups that come to mind for which the benefits of a Meetup seem obvious are:

  • Brands / Companies looking to make connections within niche communities
  • Venue owners (bars, restaurants, spaces) that are underutilizes at night or looking to get known in their communities)
  • Professional associations looking for new members or to share knowledge and create networking and development opportunities for their members.

As an event photographer, I’m surprised by how few Meetup organizers are leveraging photography to bring more people to their events and broaden their reach and impact.

Through sponsorships from companies seeking connections with the people your Meetup group represents you can easily cover the cost of a few hours of photographic or video coverage for your event.

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Renaud Boisjoly, CEO at Studyo.co

Nothing sells an event better than professional looking photos of real people in real venues having a good time and interacting with each other. Conference planners and professional meeting organizers know this and always budget for coverage as it provides fresh new images to furnish blog posts, advertisements, website copy, and media and freelance journalist who come to the event, thus extending the group’s reach even further.

ProductTank MTL is a well organized chapter of an international group, with a very targeted niche for an in-demand professional skill set. It is an obvious opportunity for a sponsor looking to connect with that same pool of talent. For a few thousand dollars a year a sponsor could sponsor the photography portion of a Meetup for a year, providing a minimum of 12 regular posts on the group’s own Facebook and Meetup page, as well as access to images for the company’s own use.  It seems like a no-brainer from a marketing spend point of view.

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Roberto Cipriani, CTO at GradeSlam.org

If you are either a Meetup organizer, or in a company looking to make connections to talent and the communities your company operates in, spend an hour looking through all the available Meetup groups organized in your city – or start your own.

Four helpful websites for weddings

I’m looking forward to this year’s crop of weddings and came across this collection of helpful sites in my inbox this morning I thought worth sharing (thanks Netted by the Webbys).

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Need help finding a venue (alas it appears only to offer US sites but perhaps a call out from Montreal brides-and-grooms to be can turn their attention to Montreal)? Try The Hitch.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.43.14 AMLooking for ideas and inspiration on everything from the latest wedding trends to what your entire wedding would look like in marigold? Try Lover.ly.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.43.35 AMI know it’s hard to think of everything you want when you are putting together that dream list gift registry for your wedding (you can include hiring a top Montreal wedding photographer, ahem, if you want something innovative on that list). Here’s a great omni site to use to register for everything you ever wanted for your wedding and more. Try Registry Love.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.43.52 AMAnd of course, while email and text is handy, it always feels a little cold when inviting people to your wedding. Well, no longer. Now you can use this hybrid online-offline stationary to convey your personal aesthetic without needing to risk sudden death by licking too many envelopes (remember that Seinfield episode?). Find the perfect stationary here at Paperless Post.

 

Extend the reach of your launch with an event photographer

Opening a new restaurant or bar? Launching a new album/film/book/product? Kicking off the opening of a new facility? If so, here are a few tips for getting the most out of your investment in your event:

  • Hire an experienced professional event photographer! While this is entirely self-serving, it is also in the best interest of the event planner or event coordinator for the launch. If that’s you, you already know how many details you need to take care to make the launch run smoothly. Everything from making sure the audio-visual components work, to having well-presented and tasty food, a good choice of red and white wines (not too cheap, not too pricey). Are you including a cocktail as well? And then there is the staff, both your own and that of your caterer and perhaps a team of volunteers who have the enthusiasm but may need a little guidance. The last thing you need to worry about is your photographer screwing up or not understanding the marketing value of good, clean, focused event photos.
  • Have your key people ready for a few quick important photos early: you don’t have to wait for the event to happen to get those key shots (like the one above taken before the event began). If what you are launching is important enough to merit a budget for an event, then you want to have a few key photos of the principals standing within a well-framed shot including a branded background if possible or other important visuals that link the event, people and purpose together. A professional event photographer in Montreal will know what to do and how to get that critical photo for you and can have it in the can before the event even starts. 
  • Get all the static pre-event shots done first: With an early start, your event photographer can also grab shots of the venue looking its best, including the food presentation and any other item that doesn’t require your guests to be there but are an essential part of the experience. These static shots are great to have for use in future brochures, on your website, in marketing letters and campaigns and are easy to get if your event photographer is there before the event has already started.
  • Ask for photo delivery on the spot: why wait for your images? Digital images are created instantly and a professional event photographer will capture them with correct lighting and colours balanced right off the first take. As a client, you can and should ask for a download of those images right away. Leave the photographer some time at the end of the night to process the images for you and end your event with DVD in hand of all the high and low res images – ready for usage immediately if you want to make the next day’s papers. Any specific images you later want to have a few touch-ups applied to should be included in your event photographer’s service to you (mine always does) so that you can have both speed and quality for one simple price.
Planning and running events are stressful and often thankless tasks. If it is your job to organize one, you want to work with professionals all the way through. As a professional event photographer, I’ve covered literally hundreds of events in Montreal and most likely have already covered and event in the venue you’ve selected. If you’re in the early planning stages feel free to ask for advice on venues, caterers, djs and other special event performers as I’ve encountered many throughout my career in Montreal as an event photographer and am glad to share with my prospective clients.
Below are a few sample shots from the Miriam Foundation‘s recent launch of their brand new facilities housing their Abe Gold Learning Center.

Why hire an event photographer?

What are some of the reasons why people hire an event photographer? As an active Montreal event photographer I’ve had many opportunities to consider this question as I am photographing events for different clients. I think people hire event photographers for at least the following three (+ one) reasons:

  1. To document the event for a client (i.e. if you are running the event as a brand marketing, communications, or PR firm and are providing photographs as part of your contract)
  2. To generate visual content for a range of media (internal newsletters and websites, external publications, annual reports, etc.)
  3. To provide photos as gifts to your guests (usually this entails a meet-and-greet set-up where the guests enter and are photographed in singles, couples or groups in front of a branded backdrop)
  4. I would add a fourth, perhaps less explicit reason as well: an event photograph adds excitement to your event and if done well by a professional event photographer, can serve to create moments and not simply document those that naturally arise in the heady mix of well dressed beautiful people, alcohol, luxurious settings in high-end restaurants or boutique hotel event spaces and music.

If you are running an event for a client you are very likely considering at least these reasons as you plan out your event schedule (please feel free to suggest more).  This also means, that you are very likely most interested in getting great shots quickly when the event is complete. In addition to talent and experience, you will want to query your prospective event photographers on their process and how they will get the images of the event to you (and how quickly). If you are not leaving the night with a DVD of your high-resolution images in hand (or won’t be downloading them the following day from a password protected website) then you may not be dealing with a professional event photographer.  

As an experienced event photographer, I shoot an average of 100 shots per hour, and factor in time at the end of the evening to transfer these images to a DVD which I burn and leave with my client before the night is over. This provides the client with the assurance that should they get any media requests for images they can respond immediately with visuals, and allows the client to begin using the images for their intended purposes right away rather than waiting a week or two for a series of images to be released by the photographer, at which point much of the punch and usefulness of these transient event photos may have evaporated. 

It is for this same reason – to quickly provide clients with images as the event transpires – that I do not edit my images unless requested. This saves an enormous amount of time for the event photographer and gives the client complete control of the images they have purchased by hiring an event photographer in the first place. I always include with every event photography contract I am hired for a reasonable number of edited images. I use the word “reasonable” because it is hard to predict exactly how many images a client may or may not want edited in post-production for very specific purposes, but my experience as an event photographer has taught me that 99.9% of all clients are reasonable. Most people do not want a deluge of images edited. They may come back and ask for a few to be edited for lighting here, a detail there, but by and large, the output of a professional event photographer direct from the camera to DVD meets the needs and expectations of clients who hire event photographers. This also ensures maximum convenience to the client who knows that once their event is done, they will have all the images they paid for in their hands before the lights go on and the clean up begins.

If you are an event planner, a public relations professional, wedding planner, event space manager, branding or communications professional and have been tasked with hiring an event photographer for an upcoming event (particularly in a city not your own, i.e. a Toronto-based firm looking for a good event photographer in Montreal), consider the reasons why you are hiring your event photographer and put into your requirements what you expect from the contract. A professional event photographer should have no problem providing you with full coverage and all your images delivered to you within (latest) 24 hrs of your event.  You’re paying for the service, so make sure you get what you need and want. In event photography, the client is ALWAYS right.