Last fall I stumbled upon a website called meetup.com. The concept is simple - a place for people with like-minded interests to organize events and meet in real life. To me, this site takes social networking and Web 2.0 to another level because of the healthy dose of reality. Users are no longer tied to their keyboards - which has some useful advantages for your marketing efforts. Here are some ways I've seen meetup.com used first-hand for marketing purposes.
1. Promote Your Product - I belong to a meetup called the Reston Pug Club. Pug owners get together once a month at a local dog park to hang out. One week a savvy bakery showed up with their pug and enough homemade dog treats for the entire pack. The free samples were a big hit and the enterprising baker walked away with lots of new business.
2. Focus Groups - Another Meetup I frequent is called Ultimate Success. The group organizer, Ayda, wanted some feedback on a program she is creating to help people achieve their goals. Using meetup.com she was able to bring together a focus group to try out the program and give honest and objective opinions.
4. Sponsorship - Could you provide an existing meetup with funds to pay for the site fee ($15 per month) or a convenient place to meet in exchange for mention on the meetup site?