Advice for marketers who want to partner with Meetup groups

Meetup groups across the country and across the globe can be a ripe hunting ground for marketers or other entities seeking partnerships. Many want to sell their product, get the word out about their event, or raise money for their non-profit, and Meetup groups (as well as Facebook groups, Google Groups, etc.) have become quite a target of honest and unscrupulous marketers alike.

Why do Marketers Target Meetups?

The open nature of is a blessing and a curse: I love the fact that potential members can see what a strong group we are (in membership numbers, breadth of events, and strength of partnerships), but it’s a curse when spammers want to use my membership to hawk their wares.

Furthermore, the vast majority of Meetups are grass roots, non-business entities who likely don’t have the same types of barriers in place that traditional companies do (salespeople, business development guys). Easy targets.

A Tale of Two Marketers

I don’t care what your “product,” there is a right way and a wrong way to attempt these partnerships. Much like you wouldn’t (shouldn’t?) walk up to an attractive stranger of the opposite sex in a bar and say “I have our china pattern picked out for our wedding,” you don’t assume that a Meetup organizer or group head is just going to immediately take you up on your offer. What the marketer should be doing is basic cold calling (or cold emailing).

Let me give you a couple of examples:

  1. New person joins my Nashville Hiking Meetup. Great. We have an open group with no membership dues. That’s what I want. But immediately that person posts a note on our message board offering low interest home refinancing. Quite often I can smell him coming with a member name in ALL CAPS and member location given is nowhere near Nashville. Member gets banned.
  2. Person does their research, sees that Nashville Hiking Meetup is large by meetup standards, sees that we may have common interests (she has a product or service that fits our membership: hiking, camping, outdoors, volunteerism), but instead of joining my Meetup as a member and spamming the message board, she instead sends a private email just to me as organizer explaining who she is and how she’d like to partner with us. Immediately you’ve passed my first test.

The latter example is exactly how Emily from Pocket Grill™ contacted me the other day: a professional email directly to me, told me exactly what her product was and how we could help. And did I mention her product is targeted to our member audience?

The professionalism of her introductory email, the quality of the hyperlinked material, and the fact that I didn’t smell spam all led me to start a conversation with Emily (and I bet we’ll keep in touch as her company’s product goes to market).

Same holds true in our Facebook group. It really irks me when people I don’t even know or have a prior business relationship with post crap on my group’s wall.

Bottom Line

Dig a little bit. Do your research. Contact the group leader directly. Be professional. Don’t spam the good people of this fine republic.

What good or bad examples have you experienced with folks wanting to partner with you? Let me know in the comments.

See Kelly Stewart’s Google+ profile.