Sponsoring the phenomenon: In conversation with The Marketing Meetup (Part 2)
In the second of our two-part interview, we delve deeper into what impact The Marketing Meetup has had on marketers, the benefits to future sponsors and how the meetup has transformed during Covid. If you’ve missed the first part, click here. Now in part two, Joe Glover [Founder] and Lou Roberts [Further’s Joint Managing Director] discuss the importance of such a event and its importance:
Making an impact
Marketing is such an important part of any business function. But since its launch, how has the meetups impacted the marketers of Norwich? With a smile on his face, Joe says: “It has provided somewhere we can all come together. To meet, grow and learn. It’s a place for like-minded people to come and share a passion.”
It’s true. The Marketing Meetup has continued to grow since it’s arrival into the city. From the Norwich University of the Arts to the larger open spaces of OPEN (which sadly closed its doors in early 2020), the number of attendees continues to rise.
Lou: “The meetups have a really laid back approach to networking that doesn’t make you feel pressured in any way. Joe’s whole attitude from initial communication to his ethos of being kind to one another really shines through. That ethos seems to be more important now than it was in the very beginning.”
“I think that’s why people continue to follow Joe. The meetups allow people to go in with an open mind to share knowledge, ahead of business. I believe people buy people so when you attend a meetup you’re not only going to benefit yourself, but you’re also going to possibly make a connection or two that may prove beneficial in the future.”
Benefits to sponsoring something special
So as someone who has continued to sponsor Joe and the meetups, has Lou seen any unexpected benefits for Further?
“It’s a great place to cut your teeth into public speaking.” Lou promotes. “You have an audience that wants to listen to you. They’re going to be kind to you. The room is full of like-minded people. Therefore if you’re new to public speaking or still cautious of doing it, it’s a great opportunity. We’ve had many team members speak at the events which has really benefited them.”
“We’ve also been fortunate enough to meet a current client from one of the meetups. We’d had initial discussions previously, but it was after seeing a member of the team speak at a meetup event that got them to reach out and ask us to pitch for them.”
Has anything changed since Covid-19? For Lou, her LinkedIn has never been so popular: “Since lockdown our continuation for sponsoring has been the most beneficial as we’ve felt we’ve really made a difference to those sitting at home. The gratitude we’ve received from the community has been so unexpected and so overwhelming, in a positive way. This is all through Joe’s continued determination to make The Marketing Meetup thrive even in the most unexpected circumstances.”
Having a marketing agency like Further sponsor The Marketing Meetup, alongside many other great sponsors has helped to take the initial idea to something much bigger. But for Joe the sponsorship goes beyond that.
“Having Further on board is one of the most wonderful things.” Joe says with such integrity. “From speaking on our stages to attending in their droves, it’s important in creating that community spirit. Having support more recently during Covid, with the acquisition [from Gravity Global] and having Lou involved has been great. When Covid hit, Further said they would stand by The Marketing Meetup, which I’m so grateful for. Having Further as a sponsor has allowed us to do what we set out to do and align us with a local agency who share our values. Further do things in the right way; they look after their people, produce high quality work and do it all with a smile on their face. The Marketing Meetup has benefited from this, but ultimately so has Further.”
Lou adds: “The Marketing Meetup is unique in our area. It has so many benefits. Being able to speak, allowing our staff to engage with likeminded people, develop their skills and expand their knowledge etc. The speakers that Joe gets are also top level, enriching the whole experience. It’s relaxed, but still very informative.”
Recalling a recent stunt that lit up the whole community, Lou concludes: “To get a shout out from Sean Paul is an added bonus you won’t get anywhere else.”
Lou is right; where else would you get a shout out from a global R&B star (turns out there’s a lot of big fans in the Further office). Joe continues to develop and shape The Marketing Meetup in new and unexpected ways.
An unexpected reality
The pandemic has arguably knocked every business’ 2020 plans out the window. But for Joe and The Marketing Meetup, events have always played a major part in what is probably his biggest selling point. Joe needed to react quickly when Covid hit.
“Further has been unreal in continuing to support and standby us through Covid-19.” Joe recalls. “I was worried to start with, but through our network’s support we’re actually stronger than we ever have been. In the past 16 weeks we’ve been able to speak to some amazing people in the industry including Roy Sutherland, Mark Ritson and Margaret Malloy. We’ve just finished season 1 with season 2 about to launch. These virtual events have enabled us to speak to these massive figures from across the globe, still bringing everyone together. Had Further and the other sponsors not stood by our side there’s no way we would’ve been able to have done this. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Luckily for Joe, no sponsor pulled the plug on supporting The Marketing Meetup showing the true belief in these set of events. From running events city by city to managing webinars with over 1500 attendees, the meetups have now become virtual with weekly webinars, monthly workshops and conversation clubs via zoom, allowing marketers to still network and learn.
What would they say to future sponsors?
“Sponsoring The Marketing Meetup is not designed to be a typical sponsorship arrangement. We do things with a long term relationship in mind. We do things that any normal relationship does, but also try to add that extra 10-20%.” Joe states. “That’s what makes The Marketing Meetup different. We look for opportunities to be creative. Adding value to the community, we know that sponsorship is more than just a logo on a slide. It’s part of the experience. So if that’s the stuff we can do to add value on both sides then we just look to create a win/win scenario.”
“Rather than that feeling of paying for something and not seeing anything from it. We listen, we grow and we get better. It relies on communication, it’s a two-way street. Lou has been wonderful at this and having the opportunity to work with Ben [Further’s Marketing Executive] has been great too. This relationship is an example of us being able to look at areas of creativity and bring something wicked to life.”
Lou concludes: “Get involved in whatever way you can. You will be investing in the future of marketers; from career perspectives to confidence building. It’s a cost effective way of making a difference.”
Looking to the future
From two well-known industry leaders then, is there anything they can pass onto their peers?
“There isn’t.” Joe laughs. “The best piece of advice is to not give advice. It’s as simple as that. Money isn’t everything either. Just do you and you’ll be great.”
“Just be seen as ethical, trustworthy, honest and open.” Lou says, recalling how Further is built. “That’s how we’ve built our agency and our culture. If you can help in as many ways as you can (both in business and in people) that will set you up in the long term. If you’re transparent with people they’re more likely to buy into you. Everyday is a school day, always ask yourself what can you do better?”
But what about what’s next? As Covid-19 has proven that even the biggest of plans can be taken away, what should we be looking out for?
Joe makes an interesting case: “As marketers we have this obsession of the next big thing. The difficulty of this is you lose sight of what truly matters.”
Lou adds: “I don’t think there is going to be a next big thing [within marketing]. What we’ve seen through Covid is a lot more empathy within marketing and that’ll continue long after we return to normal. Acts of kindness, avoiding opportunistics. We’ve always had this approach [at Further] but I think more than ever there is going to be a tell, not sell approach to business. It’s important to give people something to come back to and a lot of businesses have done this already.”
“Give away some advice for free and people will remember you for it. Plan for the future, today. It’s also worth noting that you should be brave in your decision making.”
Concluding our interview with Joe he ends with the following thought process: “If you define marketing as meeting the needs of a customer then in fact you’ve nailed in on a few things;
- It’s always going to be about target market, always about the customer.
- Needs. They’re always going to have a need or a requirement.
- You’re fulfilling that need.
When you put that altogether you have – target market + problem + communication = marketing.
All you are doing is communicating a solution to a problem, thereby improving someone else’ life. Marketing is something that when done truly and to the best intentions is a tool (like anything else). I prefer to focus on the things that don’t change rather than the things that do because that 90% of the basics is something people ignore.”
As for what comes next for The Marketing Meetup; time (and Covid) will tell. Joe is desperate to get back out there and see the thousands of faces that make up the meetup community so it’s only natural that events will return, in some form. As for what else he has in store, Joe keeps his cards close to his chest. But for now he’s enjoying embracing the webinar series he has created, with so many more speakers still to come. If you haven’t had a chance to join one yet, it’s not too late. The one thing you can count on with this community is that it’s always expanding, and always welcoming.
To find out more about The Marketing Meetup, visit the website here. Season 2’s speakers (along with dates) are available to view now. To find out more about Further and what we can offer, visit our ‘about us‘ page.