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Sponsoring the phenomenon: In conversation with The Marketing Meetup (Part 1)

The concept on paper is simple; invite marketeers into a room and talk, network and share ideas. But since it’s launch back in 2016, this concept has grown into something quite extraordinary. A phenomenon in some cases. Now, The Marketing Meetup hosts 13 events across the UK and one in the US and has a community of over 15,000 marketing professionals.

Joe Glover’s [Founder] vision of inviting like-minded people to a welcoming environment like no other began in Cambridge but shortly expanded across East Anglia to Norwich, which is home to many great agencies and marketing departments. Further has been proud supporters since day one. As major supporters, we’ve been keen to look back at how far Joe and The Marketing Meetup has come over the past four years. In the first of our two-part series; Joe sits down with Further’s Joint Managing Director, Lou Roberts and Further’s Founder, Steve Jaggard to discuss how The Marketing Meetup came to Norwich, why Further wanted to be one of the first sponsors and the importance of sponsoring such an inspirational concept:

In the beginning…

We need to cast our minds back to 2016 when the initial idea came about. At this point nothing like this [The Marketing Meetup] had been done. “It was just somewhere I could meet other marketers, learn about marketing and do it in an area I felt comfortable in.” Joe recalls. “At the best of times networking can be scary and uncomfortable so I wanted to create something that I would want to attend. What started as a hobby turned into something outstanding. It started in Cambridge because that’s where I live, but the rest came from members of the community wanting to be involved in what we were doing and wanting to run events closer to them.”

The start of a beautiful friendship

But as with any business concept, it needed input. Joe was already flying high in Cambridge; with many meetups under his belt. It was one particular event though that would be the start of a rewarding relationship between The Marketing Meetup and Further. “Steve [from Further] came to a few of the Cambridge meetups.” Joe reminisces. “It was him who initially discussed the concept of making this type of event work in Norwich.”

There’s more to this story though. “On a side note; I actually bumped into Steve on my stag do.” Joe laughs. “That ultimately helped seal the deal. Shortly after, with the help of Steve I found a location in Norwich and the rest is history.”

What made Steve want to invest in such a concept then? “I was researching the business environment in and around Cambridge at the time. It was recommended I attend a ‘different, well attended and buzzing’ marketing event which took place monthly.” Steve recalls. “From the moment I arrived, everything felt different and more comfortable. Joe was waiting, welcoming everyone personally. His warmth, tone and personality shined through from that moment, setting the tone for the event almost immediately.”

“The whole arrangement of The Marketing Meetup was well thought out. From the free drinks to the equally inviting food array. The short (but very informative) format for the excellent speaker sessions worked a treat also! The event was introduced by a softly spoken, understated but ever so happy that everyone turned up, Joe who had this beaming smile and the kindest of words. In this atmosphere it seemed to me that networking was being reinvented for the better. Everyone had a smile on their face and genuinely wanted to know about you and the speaker(s), as a human being and not just an arm attached to a business card.”

“You didn’t feel too stupid to ask questions. People were genuinely there to learn something and meet up with others who were happy to share their experiences. Nothing ever seemed forced or awkward. It didn’t matter what walks of life you were from; the conversations kept flowing. In my thirty years of networking, this was a welcome relief. This event was about people meeting people with an ethos of leave your egos at the door please.”

Steve continues: “I kept attending the Cambridge events, bringing along a few of the Further team to witness everything for themselves. Over time I got to know Joe a little more and spoke to him about adding this kind of event to the Norfolk networking landscape.” Steve laughs. “We even spoke about it on his stag do!”

“As you can imagine Joe was really up for it. I said Further would be happy to be a sponsor of the event and help promote amongst our network. It was critically important to help Joe find a city centre location in order to run the event at the format it worked best at. Thankfully, the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) kindly allowed us to use one of their new spaces.”

The Marketing Meetup Norwich

Sponsoring the phenomenon

The networking scene in Norwich was due a refresh, with Steve knowing the market and Joe knowing what was missing/needed. But for Further this was entering new territory; so why take the initial gamble to sponsor?

“Steve felt that Joe’s approach to networking was something that was missing in the area [of Norwich].” Lou recalls. “All of the nice things he kept saying about Joe really painted the picture of someone who wanted to mix up the networking scene. He described Joe as this energetic young man with a great deal of drive. Both of their personalities were well aligned. It seemed like a no brainer, to be part of something that we felt could really take off here.”

Steve adds: “I suppose [beyond what Lou has stated] I was keen to see Further engaging more with its local community as up until then I felt we hadn’t done enough. Apart from speaking at many events or hosting our own seminars, Further were yet to sponsor something. It’s always vitally important to be interacting and getting involved at a local level, even if the majority of your client base are national/international.”

Lou continues: “We both felt the Marketing Meetup would be something the Further team could really benefit from; both in attending and in speaking. This event is a great platform for public speaking; even if you’re new to it.”

“Pinning down an event to sponsor should be more than simply putting some money aside for any event that features marketing in its title.” Steve concludes. “It needs to fit with your brand, its personality, its culture, its values. That’s why it all fell into place for me when I met Joe at my first meetup event. It was the kind of informal, friendly, approachable and short format event that Further would feel proud to be representing and represented at. It was the kind of event we had been looking to sponsor.”

“Steve really was one of the main catalysts for launching in Norwich. He gave a good enough reason to want to start it in the fine city.” Says Joe. “It was also nostalgic with it being my wife’s hometown. It was great to have Steve and Further on board, being a great influence. For me it was also important to have a local business input into The Marketing Meetup. Local flavour adds lots to the community.”

From simple concept to global success

On paper, the idea is simple. A networking event for like-minded people to engage in conversation. Somewhere to go and share ideas and passions. But in reality The Marketing Meetup is something much bigger for the thousands that attend. In his opinion then, why has Joe’s concept become a global phenomenon?

“The Marketing Meetup is a lovely, welcoming, inclusive, happy, brilliant place to be and I feel that that’s echoed by Further and that can be seen in both ways.” Joe says, knowing his concept has become calendar events for some. “We always had a view that this wasn’t much of a commercial venture as it was an operation of looking after each other, helping each other and making each other better than we were alone. We’re just trying to create something truly special. There is enough out there already for money so why not make something for love? Not for a project, but for each other. Helping to make it a truly human driven experience.”

“The Marketing Meetup may be a simple concept and could be copied elsewhere, but the people would miss the how and the why we do it, not the ‘what we do’. It’s hard to replicate what we’ve all built together as a community.”

Echoing Joe’s comments, Lou highlights why the meetup has been important to her. “My ethos has always been people buy people. Having somebody like Joe be so visible and so vocal about what he’s trying to achieve reminds you to be kind and have more empathy. Joe shows you how you can be a good, strong leader with a heart. These uncertain times have shown that he has the energy to keep going.”?

“The marketing meetup, I believe, shares that same ethos.”

Benefits to marketers old and the new

So for those who have yet to attend a marketing meetup, or for those who’ve been in the past and looking to return, how can something like this benefit marketers?

“If all agencies encouraged all staff to attend then it’s such a cost-effective way of collecting knowledge, in a nice, welcoming environment (even if you’re an introvert).” Lou says. “It’s a great place to learn. You don’t have to be client facing or be the most confident to enjoy The Marketing Meetup. It’s a level playing field for everyone. Networking tends to scare off most people, but The Marketing Meetup demolishes all those fears.”

“It can be a great platform for those at junior level, for those looking for the next step up and those who want to expand their knowledge. There is something for every marketer”.

Further at The Marketing Meetup

Further’s Head of Content, James Gill speaking at the February 2020 Norwich event alongside Founder Joe Glover. Photo from The Marketing Meetup.

In supporting Lou, Joe adds: “The Marketing Meetup can help companies and employees in the future by providing somewhere we can meet, learn and grow together. Included in that is the human side of things as well as the marketing information side of things. If people know that their problems are shared, then they can grow in confidence. If they know there’s a source of knowledge then they can go there to cease that. People know it’s a place to meet other marketeers, which will help to widen their network. I truly believe one of the most powerful things in business and in life is the people you know so The Marketing Meeting provides that network, which can only benefit the marketeers of the future.?

“45% of our audience is at manager level; in 3-5 years these will be the people leading marketing departments. And if we’re able to let them buy into our ethos of looking after each other then the world will be a much better place in the next few years.”

In part-two we discuss the benefits of sponsoring such an event and why you should get involved, the impact The Marketing Meetup has on marketers and what comes next for the future of marketing. Season 2 of The Marketing Meetup webinars? starts 13th July with the list of speakers already revealed. Click here to view. To find out more about Further and how we can help you, visit our about us page here.

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