Episode 79 | Posted on

Meetup, the Secret Weapon for Businesses with Mel Cutler

Today’s conversation is with Mel Ethan Cutler, a Meetup expert and serial entrepreneur. Mel has created seven companies across four different markets since he discovered his entrepreneurial streak at 19 years old. He’s mastered the strategy of using Meetup to build a list and create a dedicated local following of people who want a specific product or service. Now, he shares his wisdom and insight with businesses—and, in this great conversation, with you.

In this Episode

  • [01:34] – Mel starts off by explaining why Meetup.com is a secret weapon for small businesses. He also addresses his own background and explores how he discovered the power of Meetup.
  • [04:37] – Mel discusses the costs involved in using Meetup: around $89 twice a year. He then offers some of his best tips for how to use Meetup, and mentions his event The Entrepreneur Revolution.
  • [07:36] – We learn more about how Mel uses a sense of urgency or scarcity to encourage people to overcome their fear and take action. He then talks about how to figure out what kind of meetup to create.
  • [10:33] – Does Mel suggest starting by creating your own meetup, or sponsoring someone else’s first? In his answer, he emphasizes the importance of providing value to others rather than just asking for things for yourself.
  • [13:29] – Mel offers some tips regarding finding a venue, which he says is the easiest thing.
  • [15:44] – Mel shares an example of a meetup that he’s hosting soon, and explains how it functions.
  • [17:35] – We hear about what Mel means when he says “mastermind,” and he talks about different kinds of masterminds. He goes into some depth on the differences between free and high-cost masterminds.
  • [21:23] – Stephen talks about working your way up instead of immediately asking people for $25,000. He then addresses sales funnels.
  • [22:53] – Mel addresses the possibility of paying to get on stage at an event.
  • [25:05] – How does Mel recommend people develop the skill set necessary to sell from stage? He suggests Speaking Empire and Speaker Revolution.
  • [28:07]- Mel talks about the optimization strategies and tactics for a meetup that isn’t getting traffic or attention.
  • [30:53] – In his early days on Meetup, Mel made some mistakes. Here he shares the horror story of his first Meetup event, where no one showed up except his brother, his mom, and a close friend. He then shares a secret from his Meetup Master course.
  • [34:27] – Mel shares some tips on how to find and use keywords for your Meetup group and event descriptions and titles.
  • [36:46] – What does Mel recommend in terms of color schemes and visuals?
  • [38:29] – Stephan points out that Meetup is a social network. He offers a case example of an employee who used Meetup to his advantage. Mel then expands on this, emphasizing the importance of your network.
  • [43:50] – The profile page on Meetup is often a missed opportunity, Mel says.
  • [45:18] – Mel offers his advice for people who made a group that hasn’t had any traction over several months: kill it off, start over, and use his course.
  • [46:20] – Mel talks more about his Meetup Master course, which is currently $297 (normally $1,000). (Note for listeners: if the price has gone up by the time you buy the course, buy it at the full price and then email Mel to get the difference refunded.)
  • [48:38] – We learn a little bit about how Meetup’s algorithm works, and what advice Mel recommends following to help ensure your Meetup group is successful.
  • [51:02] – Mel generously shares his super-secret strategy on how to get people from Meetup to provide their email addresses and phone numbers. It’s surprisingly simple: you ask something like “What is your best email and phone number to welcome you to the group with?” as one of the questions you create for new group members.
  • [54:50] – Mel lists some ways to get in touch with him and places to find him and his courses and guides online.


Hello and welcome to Marketing Speak. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer. Today we have Mel Ethan Cutler with us. He’s an awesome guy and real expert on .com. We’re going to learn all about Meet Up. Serial entrepreneur since the age of 19, Mel has created seven companies in four different markets. After spending years struggling to bridge the gap of finding clients online and bringing them offline, he created MeetUp Zoo to support business owners in creating a committed community who are looking for their product or service. He’s now mastered the number one social media tool for businesses, meetup.com to build a list and create a dedicated local following of people who want their specific product or service. Mel, it’s great to have you on the show.

Stephan, thanks for having me, man. I really appreciate it and I’m really excited to share some wisdom here today on the call.

Me too. I’m excited to break it down, how to get success with meetup.com which is a social platform that business owners don’t focus to. Others all focus on Facebook and LinkedIn and they really neglect MeetUp. Why is meetup.com such a secret weapon for small business?

Great question. meetup.com is really unique. I found it by accident going on now seven years ago, where I had a coaching business and I got certified with all of my coaching, short initials on the end of my name. After spending tens of thousands of dollars going through a lot of courses, I was now ready to really save the world, start coaching people. There was one major thing left out from all the courses that I took and that was marketing, I had no idea how to find clients. That’s what’s really cool with what you’re doing Stephan is you’re really empowering your community, your listeners with the thing that’s actually going to make money and that is being able to leverage tools that are out there. In this day and age, the tools are out there, you just have to find them or find the experts to work with. What happened for me is I wanted to create a community that they already existed online. I kept on asking myself a question, how do I take the people that are online and bridge the gap and bring them offline to become clients? At that time, I was just learning. I was figuring things out, making mistakes here and there, actually spending a lot of money learning those mistakes. I tried Facebook, I tried Twitter, I tried a bunch of other social media. Even though there are proven ways to definitely drive traffic through other social media avenues, they’re not designed and MeetUp is the only one that’s designed to create groups online that actually meet up offline in your target market. Basically, a 5-10 mile radius of where you live. You can get really specific of who you want to attract, run a live meet up, could be a few hours, and then try build that connection, build trust. Without trust and respect, sales aren’t made. Educate your community and those people then look up to you to guide them the rest of the way and that guidance can be your coaching, your product, your service. That’s really how we’ve been able to run meet ups and be able to generate seven figures off of that website.

Seven figures, that’s impressive. They say that business is done to belly to belly, that you’re most effective and most persuasive where you’re in person with the prospect. Having them in an in person environment, like a meet up, is really powerful. Building a tribe is very powerful as well. You can achieve both at one time with a meet up. You don’t have to pay somebody for the opportunity to be in front of your tribe. You create that almost for free, right?

Absolutely. It’s literally almost for free. How it works, if you are listening to this and you’re a coach, a speaker or an entrepreneur, one of the key strategies is to get out there and speak to educate and to really be marked out as a trusted adviser and an expert. Often times, that takes time. It takes time to build up, maybe to write a book, to get your talk down. I always recommend to people that I coach that are looking to be sought after as a business leader is to create your own stage. You can do that with meetup.com and it costs you maybe $89 twice a year. What happens is a really cool thing, you basically set up a group on MeetUp and you commit that you will meet live. It’s got to be within your demographic, within your target market and geographically targeted, probably around the biggest city near you. For example I live in Orange County, California and we run meet ups in Irvine, Newport Beach, Sta. Ana, we go up to Rancho [00:06:02], we have MeetUps in San Diego and LA. We hit the major markets and we host a 2-3 hour event that is packed. It’s not one of those events that you’re going to go to buy stuff, it’s not a sales event. It’s an event where they’re going to learn whatever that topic is. This month, actually, next week, we have a topic about ecommerce. We’ve created these entrepreneur masterminds, it’s free to attend, people attend them, they’re usually held either at a hotel or a restaurant with a private room or we’ve done it at a nice house. Basically, people will come in mastermind and you can vet them before they come and make sure that they’re quality people. We’ll educate them. After that meet up, we will then offer something where they can continue their education. For us, that’s a live event that we do called The Entrepreneur Revolution. We’ve been doing that event for six years now, we do eight of them a year and about 70% of that audience comes from MeetUp.

One of the key strategies is to get out there and speak to educate and to really be marked out as a trusted adviser and an expert.

That’s quite a percentage. Really fills your funnel then to get folks into these free meet ups and then the logical progression then is to attend your entrepreneur revolution which costs how much?

The normal ticket for that event is $1297, but for our meet up community, we discount it. Sometimes it’s half that price, sometimes it’s even less.

Okay, got it. I assume that you incorporate some urgency and scarcity so that you get them to take fast action.

Stephan, it’s human psychology. We don’t do the urgency or the scarcity or the fear of loss to manipulate people. It’s just people need it to take action, especially when it’s the right direction for them. It’s because people have fear and they have negative emotions that hold them back from ever taking action in the right direction. 85% of the people, they need that fear of loss, hope for the future, sense of urgency to really take action. Here’s the magic with MeetUp. Meet up has a database of people that want what you have. It can be anything. There’s meetups on yoga, there’s wine drinking meetups, there’s pubcrawl meet ups, there’s meetups in literally every single category, a knitting meetup. My grandma would love that work. Three’s meet ups in every area and what happens is you got to think one step outside of your business. You have to think, okay, if I’m a real estate agent, or if I’m a real estate broker, what kind of meet up do I need to create to attract the people to I want to come and attend that meet up that might eventually trust me, like me and then become a client? We’ve helped a lot of real estate agents set up real estate investing meetups. People who attend these meetups are people who are ready to invest, they want to invest in the market and they just need help. If you’re an agent and you want to deal with investors, then maybe a meetup like that would be beneficial. If you’re coaching businesses, then maybe one like we do an entrepreneur mastermind, we do entrepreneur networking, we do a women’s entrepreneur networking event. What’s awesome is MeetUp will realize the event you’re doing and then a few days after launching your meetup-you set up a group and then you set up an event for the group-in a couple days after you launch, MeetUp will blast out an email to millions of people in your area saying, “Hey, a new MeetUp just started, you might be interested. Come and join the meetup and that’s how you start building your list and building your community to meet up through live events.”

Very cool. If you don’t want to go through the headache of finding a room to rent and a restaurant or whatever and you want to start by sponsoring somebody else’s MeetUp, is that something that you’ve seen some success with? Or do you recommend you just jump right in and run your own MeetUp?

Stephan, what you just shared was an advanced secret strategy which is really, really awesome because most people just don’t think about it. That is one of the key things to do to leverage your effort and your time the most is to go on to meetup.com and browse other MeetUps that already have hundreds if not thousands of members that you would love to participate in. What I mean participate maybe you speak at it, maybe you will help out at it and figure out a way to add value to that organizer. Don’t just email that organizer saying hey, I’m a speaker. I want to come speak to your group. No! Do not do that because I can’t tell you how many emails I get everyday from people that are hey, I’m a speaker and I’m an expert at this and I’d love to come speak in your group. That doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because that person is getting bombarded all the time. You have to be a little bit unique and creative. What I mean by being unique and creative is that you have to think what they want, you have to think of hey, what does this group, what does this organizer want? Not what they need, they might need you but they don’t want you. I got an email like this not too long ago and I responded to it. It said, “Hey, Mel, I found your group, it looks awesome. I have a database of people, I have a list of people that are entrepreneurs and I would love to promote your meet up and get you some more members. Would you mind if I did that?”

I got some money in the bank, it’s burning a hole in my pocket and I’d love to send it to you.

That is the way. Give people honey. I respond and said yeah, let’s collaborate. I got on the phone with that person, that person then followed through with what they said and I had to reciprocate now. And I said hey, look, you seem like a good person, why don’t we have you speak? We want to sell without selling, we want to get what we want by giving.

Give before you get.

That’s the key and that’s a big distinction with MeetUp because there are so many meet ups, lots of people now are using it. A few years ago, people had no clue but now more and more are using it. The key is to have really good meetups, give great value, give content, give away your best stuff, be bold, give away your best stuff. To implement it, they’re going to need you to do that.

That’s true. What is the cost typically to rent a room? What’s the process to finding a venue, because it can be really expensive, especially if you don’t know the ins and outs of this, you’re just starting out.

I’ll give you guys a couple of tips. The venue is honestly the easiest thing. The content, also easy. The key is the marketing and the structure and your USP, Unique Selling Proposition, of the meet up to the people that are online that are going to come find your MeetUp. That’s what has to be attractive. In terms of location, here’s a little tip, we found a free location in a credible area at a credible venue and that is your local Microsoft store. We have a Microsoft store here at South Coast plaza in Costa Mesa, it’s like a nice mall. Inside that mall, there is a Microsoft store and that store, once you get on their calendar, will give you their space for free. Typically in the back of a Microsoft store, they have a humongous plasma TV, they have a little meet up space basically where they actually do courses and classes. You can get that for free as long as you find the right time, you just gotta schedule that ahead of time. That’s a great place to use for free.

Why do they do that for free?

They want traffic. They want people in there and you have to hide your Mac when you walk in there if you’re using a Mac.

I’m all Mac.

Me too. And they do it for free. They just want traffic, they want more eyeballs on their Xbox and video games and this and that. That’s a great free venue. Another free venue could be a local library. You just need to go in there and find out hey, I want to have a little event here. Normally, they’ll let you do it for free if you allow them and their community to attend your meet up. That’s another thing and you can say that, look, I want to hold an educational MeetUp, we’re not charging for it. It’s free. We just want to add value to the community and what we’ll do is we’ll let you invite you your people to attend just because you’re generous.

That’s great.

Here’s another idea. Tomorrow, as a matter of fact, we’re having a Taco Tuesday for entrepreneurs. Once a month, on a Tuesday, we rent out the El Torito back room. I buy everybody tacos and we all hang out and share ideas and mastermind and it’s just a fun thing we do that continues to grow our entrepreneur community, people love it, they meet myself, they meet my wife, they meet some of our other faculty members who teach entrepreneur sales or marketing or team building or ecommerce and they then love the community and they want to say okay, what’s next? How do I work with you guys? Many of them come to the entrepreneur revolution which is an invite only event, we qualify people. It’s a three day event and it’s one of the best events that I’ve ever attended or put on because I attend a ton of events and the best of the best is put into that one. That’s a fun thing we do for taco for Tuesdays and free tacos. People love that.

You mentioned the word mastermind. Mastermind for me is a very specific thing. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and that’s one of the 13 principles is masterminding with people who are really smart and are movers and shakers, they want to build something great and putting all your minds together to work solve a common problem is much more effective than just doing it on your own. Is a mastermind like that? Something that is suited for promoting on MeetUp? Or is it more of a high level thing that you would promote on Facebook Ads?

Great question. Stephan, it can be both. There’s a lot of different definitions for masterminds. There’s a lot of different ways on how to set a map and requirements so I have been a part of high level masterminds where I had to pay $25,000 for one and $10,000 for another one. Guess what? You get those quality people in those because to pay that type of money, you’re going to be surrounding yourself with high quality people. There is definitely opportunity to do that. Most likely, it’s going to be outside of MeetUp. That’s going to be soothing that’s higher level type of people like you, like other people that are into internet marketing or just business growth, these are people who have seven figure businesses. That’s going to be most likely outside of MeetUp. You might find the diamond in the rough. The type of mastermind I’m talking about is more of a collaboration of minds where exactly like you spoke about, Think and Grow Rich, you bring two minds together, you get that third brain perspective. Absolutely crucial. There is a mastermind where there’s the one that cost money and I want to be the dumbest person in the room and I want to surround myself with the smartest people. I want to be the person who’s making the least. When I’m paying, I want to be making the least and learning from the best. Then there is a type of mastermind where it’s my opportunity to give back. It’s my opportunity to share with the community what I’ve learned and help other people along the way, that is the tendency for these meet ups that are mastermind. We share best practices, we go around the table, often times it’s everybody’s in different industry and we’ll go around and we’ll share hey, what’s working. What’s working to generate leads? What’s working to convert leads? What’s really working to make money? What’s working online? Offline? We’ll go around and we’ll share and people will get great value and people take notes. This type of mastermind is free. Even though it’s not necessary, I recommend that when you do a meet up and if you’re listening to this and you’re like yeah, I want to MeetUp locally with people and I want to give back and I also want to be mentored and I really want to position myself as a leader and educate and teach, then MeetUp is a great place to set that up in the beginning especially, instead of waiting and trying to find other places to speak, you can create your own stage, create your own mastermind and you’re going to get all different levels in your MeetUp. Some might be high level, some might be low level, some might be just starting out, some might be in the middle. That’s how MeetUp is. Therefore, you’ll be able to facilitate and lead that. From that, you’ll be able to figure out a way to monetize it. Why is it important to monetize it? You’re not going to monetize it if you don’t have a funnel that’s built out. If you have a business funnel that’s built out, you can monetize and why is it important is because you’re going to get tired of doing event after event after event if you’re not making money. That’s the bottom line. You can only last so long because it takes energy, it takes time, takes money and you got to makes some money. The mastermind I would recommend doing for free even, though you can charge for meet up event, kind of the MeetUp community fosters is people that are looking for something free. MeetUp is like an appetizer for them to get to know you. And then you can take them from MeetUp to your stage like we do at the Entrepreneur Revolution and from the Entrepreneur Revolution is where we programs products, online, offline live events where if they want to continue their entrepreneur education, that’s where they do it with us.

There is continue on there. There is an upsell opportunity at the three day event for them to go and to stay a year long program but you don’t start there, you start at the free meet up and you work your way up. The commitment level isn’t from zero to hey I need $25,000 from you. Hey, here’s the next opportunity where I’m going to add massive value and it’s maybe just a few hundred dollars.

You got it. We can have a full episode on creating a proper seven to eight figure business funnel because that’s the difference.

We’ve had some episodes talking about funnels on the show. It’s always a good reminder. You really need one, you can’t just throw something out there and hope that it’s going to pay for itself especially if you’re not even charging for the meetup itself, somebody can attend for free or maybe you charge $10, you’re not going to make a living off of that. You really need a funnel or the math is not going to work. Let’s talk about what are the costs for sponsoring other people’s MeetUps to circle back to that advanced strategy of finding an existing meet up and dangling some cash in front of them. Are you basically just buying them pizza for all the members? What’s the cost? What’s the scope of a sponsorship strategy there?

Absolutely. Last week, I was at a mastermind filled with about 100 of the top speakers here in Newport Beach and one of the top strategies that these speakers are using to get on stages is they’re putting money in from of the people running events. They literally will find somebody, it could be an organizer that is consistently getting a good group of people at their meet ups and you literally want to get somebody’s attention, you email them and say hey, how much would it cost for me to get on stage in front of your people? How much can I pay you to get in front? Very few people ever do that. Why wouldn’t you? If I knew that I would pay $5,000 and I would speak in front of 100-200 entrepreneurs and I was able to offer something from that stage, let’s say a $1000 program and I sold 20 of those, 10 of them, you do the math. If I know I can get up, sell a $1,000 program to 10 people, I make $10,000 it cost me $5,000 or it cost $1,000 or $2,000. I would do that all day long. That takes a shift in mindset, that takes a shift of confidence, that takes believing in how you’re going to convert from stage. That’s a whole different set of skills but once you master those skills, then you can literally can offer to speak on people’s stages, pay them, not give them any percent of the back end because often times when you pay to speak on the stage, you’ll keep the 100% which is also another benefit and you can do that all day long and keep it simple and keep it easy.

A lot of people don’t have the skills to speak from stage and sell because educating from stage is one thing, selling from stage takes a whole other skill set and practice and expertise. Where do people go to get that kind of skill set? Where do you recommend?

There’s a few different places and a few different experts out there that specifically teach how to speak on stage and how to monetize and not only educate but also sell from stage. One of the places is a couple close friends of mine, Dave and Dustin. Dave and Dustin have a company called Speaking Empire.

Yup. I have been there. They have a great event.

Great event. It is just their mastermind, they have an event called Amplify and it’s solid. These guys are pros, they do it well. If you’re serious about it and you got the cash to invest at a high level, they’re your people. If you’re just starting out and you are somebody who knows you want to go down that path and you’re limited on your budget, there is other places. For example, I’ve been selling from stage and speaking from stage for the last six years and I have been able to grow our company success academy to over seven figures. We’ve been doing that for the last three years now. Took me a few years to figure it out. But now, it’s consistent and we’re actually doing less events but making more money. The speakers who want to learn how to do that basically from A-Z, we have a course called speaker revolution. You can check it out at speakerrevolution.com. I have now duplicated those skills to two of my trainers, Greg and Karen, who are awesome. They now teach people, coach people, they hold people and basically build out their presentation, teach them all the cool skills to have from stage, NLP skills, persuasion skills and it’s really a powerful event. We have an event like that. There’s other resources too. It just takes some searching and going to events and figuring out who you resonate the most with.

It just takes some searching and going to events and figuring out who you resonate the most with. Click To Tweet

Yeah. There is Speak To Sell which is Lisa Sasevich’s event and that’s good too. She’s a great speaker and great trainer. There are lots of resources. Michael Port also teaches people how to be a great speaker on stage and that is called Heroic Public Speaking, I’ve had Michael on the podcast. Definitely great episode to listen to if you’re interested in improving your speaking skills. Let’s say we wanted to optimize our presence on MeetUp, we’ve gone on and set up a group, we’ve set up an event and we’re just waiting for the traffic to flow and it’s not happening. What do we need to do to optimize? Maybe we didn’t put good keywords in the title of the meet up. Maybe we made it on an opportune day or location or whatever, what are the optimization strategies and tactics?

We get asked that question so many times over and over and over again because that’s the key. Setting up a meet up is easy. Anyone can do it, your teenager can do it. It’s not rocket science but setting it up right, that’s a different story. It’s simple but it’s not easy. It’s simple in terms of there’s a step by step method on how to do it. Here’s the thing, if you do it wrong and MeetUp sends out their email promoting your meet up and no one joins, you’re screwed because MeetUp will not promote your meet up again. They only send it out one time, that’s it. You have one shot to get it right and if you don’t get it right, then you’re going to have to set up a whole new meet up and do it all over again. That’s why I created a course called MeetUp Master. I created the course because so many people ask me that question. What do I do? What keywords do I add? What are the topics? How about copy? What copy do you use? We run over 42 groups. We built our list over 5000 entrepreneurs from MeetUp which by the way MeetUp will not give you their phone number or email but we figured out a way and I talk about this in my course on how to capture their phone number and their email. It’s a simple thing. It’s not anything complicated. It’s just how you set up your meet up. MeetUp Master takes you step by step if you’re serious. Setting it up is obviously a key, but Stephan, the biggest key is the dedication of the MeetUp leader to running at least a monthly event consistently and you got to commit to that for 12 months. If you’re going to try it one time and it doesn’t work for you, guess what? You tried it one time. It took us seven years to get to where we’re at because we consistently messed up. Messing up is the key but if you can find somebody who created something to help you avoid that, then that’s priceless. I wish I would have had what we have now when I started. I would’ve invested thousands of dollars on it because I would’ve avoided seven years of up and down.

When you started, you had some of the events nobody showed, some of the events there may be only a couple people showed and you still had to run it anyways. Give us some of the horror stories of your early days.

I have a few of those. My very first MeetUp, I was gung ho. I was excited. I found the platform and I did as much research as I could about it. I’m like, okay, we’re going to do this. I committed, I set it up as best as I could and crickets, crickets, crickets. At my first MeetUp, I had my brother show up, I had my mom show up and one of my close friends. Three people showed up to my first MeetUp. I’m like, this is not going to work. How can this work? No one showed up. I still did the meet up. I still gave it my best like I was speaking to a thousand people and it helped me manage my state because it doesn’t matter how many people there are, that’s your training. I saw that, it’s okay. It sucks. I wanted to cry but that was my training to where I’m at today where I can step up on any stage, I can give a phenomenal presentation, great crowd engagement, people love it and then make money from that event. It took events like that, seven years ago, for me to practice. That was just one horror story. Another horror story was with meet up, you can do a cool strategy and here’s another little secret I’ll give you from the MeetUp Master course. Instead of just setting up one meet up to promote one event, you can set up three groups that all promote one event. I’m just going to repeat that because it’s really important. I call it the Trifecta Strategy. You can set up three groups for the same price for whatever it is, $89 and promote the same live event. The face of those three groups are all marketed a little bit differently. One is entrepreneur networking event, one is young entrepreneur society and the other one is entrepreneur mastermind but they’re all promoting the same live event which means you get three times as many people.

The event name is different for each group.

The event name can be the same but the event group or the MeetUp group is different. Different colors, different branding, different banner, different title but the event is the same.

That’s genius.

That’s a secret for your audience I wanted to share. There’s all sorts of little tricks like that in the MeetUp Master course. If you know meet up is the way and you want to build a community offline in your backyard, you got to do it. If you only want to do things online, then it’s enough for you.

If you’re sick of hopping on airplanes, travelling to other people’s events and you want to do it in your backyard so you don’t have to get on an airplane so much, MeetUp is for you. Let’s go back to the optimization approach of you might have named your group something that nobody’s searching for. You’re not using the right keywords. How do you recommend people do the research to figure out what keywords are the right ones to use and the title of their MeetUp group? Where else do those keywords need to be placed like in the description and so forth in order for them to be found?

All of that is important. We’ll break it down here. The first step that we did is use the Google, you know better than I do Stephan, Google analytics has a tool or keyword, Google Keyword.

It’s the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

That’s the word. You can start off there. You go into there and you start playing around with what your target market which that’s important to have first, is going to be typing in. For example, for us, I’m like okay, entrepreneurs, they always want to network. People who want to connect offline, these are people entrepreneur networking event. I started off with that longer type of keyword and that tool pops out all these different ones that have high search rankings and you start picking a few of those and putting them together into the sentence, into your title of what your group is going to be. You use those keywords in your description. You also use them in your event description. There’s two descriptions, your MeetUp actual group description, your MeetUp title and then your event title and description. You have 15 keywords, tags that you can apply to your group. A big beginner’s mistake, here it is. Big beginner’s mistake that I talk about in the MeetUp Master course is that beginners don’t use all 15 keywords. They just put in five or two. Why would you do that? You have 15 that you can fill up and when you do the 15, your group becomes more searchable and it pops up more often and it will also go out to the best people when meet up blasts out your MeetUp group.

Good advice. If somebody ends up on your group page, you want to do some things to entice them beyond having just a good title for the group and a good description. What about the visual factor? What color scheme to choose and visuals and things like that? What do you recommend there?

The best thing to do is to go onto MeetUp and do your research. There’s groups in New York, MeetUp is from New York, they started in 2001. MeetUp began. The mission, the purpose of meetup.com is to bring people together with the same interest and hobbies and likes. It began right after 9/11 in 2001. When everyone was down and out and freaking out and lots of fear, they were beside themselves. The group of the founders, the founders who started MeetUp said you know what, let’s bring people together. Instead of dividing people, how about we bring them together and create some good. That’s how MeetUp was started. It’s important to go on to MeetUp and research and you’ll see group, there’s some entrepreneur groups with thousands, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 members. A lot of them are in New York, there’s some big ones up in LA. Research what they’re doing. It’s worth researching. We’ve done all the research for you in the course and we’ve marked down some main points but you don’t have to get the course. You can go and do your own research and a lot of it will be relevant as to okay, hey, this is a catchy title, this is a catchy banner, nice color scheme. They did not design their own banner. They had a professional designer make something nice. Those type of things, it’s simple and you think it would be common sense but sometimes those are the things that people need to pay attention to.

One thing I think is important for people to remember is that meet up is a social network and social networks are a community where you can, based on the size of your network, get more influence. Let’s talk about that aspect and just a quick case example of that in action. I had an employee who is a really valuable employee for a number of years. He was the head of the Madison PHP MeetUp and that put him in a very influential role. He had a lot of visibility and so forth. That helped him get great jobs including the one that he had at my previous agency. It’s just a case example of how powerful MeetUp is as a social network. Do you have any examples to share for us?

Yeah, absolutely. Like you said, MeetUp is a great place to find POI, People of Influence. We’ve all heard it is that your network is going to be your net worth. I want that to sink in because if I have somebody like Stephan on speed dial and I can ask him a marketing question or SEO question or a traffic generating hack that he has that people pay him a ton of money to know but he’s somebody who I built a relationship with, he’s somebody I call a friend, when he needs help, I help him and when I need help, he helps me. That is going to increase my net worth because his advice can directly impact the businesses that I run and vice versa. Your network is always worthwhile to grow, build, to kick people out of your network that don’t belong there and make space for new people. I would have never been able to get to where I’ve gotten growing companies and these companies doing well, majority of them did not do well but there’s a couple of them that hit a home run and that’s all you need but I would’ve never ever have achieved that without amazing mentors, without people that I could’ve picked up the phone and when I didn’t pick up the phone, that’s when shit hit the fan and my ego got in the way and I didn’t take action. Your network is the most important thing and meet up is a great way to continue to build your network because you can directly have access to organizers and don’t go after them like you want to get something from them, give to them. Build a relationship. Help them. That type of relationship will help you up immensely in your journey, especially where you’re weak. We all have skills, we all have talents but when you have an area that is weak, then that’s the area that you want to focus most on. I’ll give you an example. I have a couple of ecommerce companies and we are diving heavy into Facebook ads. I’m not a Facebook Ad expert by any means but I have a friend who runs a meet up who is. I said to him, hey look, I want to introduce your MeetUp to my list because a lot of people are interested in Facebook ads, it’s driving traffic, it’s converting and it’s a science of how to get it done. He said yea, sure. I said, hey, I’d like to participate in your meet up too. I attended his meet up, I brought guests to his meet up and my people signed up for his thing. I didn’t ask for an affiliate thing or any kickback which I could’ve but I didn’t because my friend charges a lot of money for his live event that he does. He does a two-day Facebook event. What happened is I said I’d love to attend your event. He said, fine, you’ll be my guest. That event, after attending it, brought in over $50,000 in sales after tweaking one ad for one of my ecommerce companies, it’s a supplement company. That’s an example to give. Give and it will come back to you. That all happened because of MeetUp.

That resonates with my philosophy of give before you get and business karma. Let’s talk a bit about the profile page because I think that one is a missed opportunity for many. They’re focused on their group page on their event and making sure that’s all optimized but they don’t put any effort into their own personal profile as the group organizer. That’s social proof if you do it right. In the case of my valued programmer, PHP programmer, who worked for me for many years, he had a pimped-out profile page that made him look super credible and topnotch guy.

That is often times a missed opportunity. When somebody goes to your meet up, they want to know who’s running this MeetUp. They want to know who are you. It can be a free meet up but you know what? They’re still going to check you out because there’s 10 meet ups they can go to that night. Why are they going to choose yours? Deciding factor is the topic, is the amount of people that RSVP, is the comments that are going on, is there excitement that’s generated in your meet up and your profile page. Make sure that it’s credible. It looks good. There might be some links in there. For me, there’s a link that people can go and get my book for free. They can start reading that book and before they even come to a meet up, they can say, whoa that’s a great book and they feel like they already know me when they come to the meet up. That’s important. Anything that can build trust, boost your credibility without being too egotistical and by adding something in there that’s conveying that you want to help people grow with their success. That’s a good point.

Let’s say that somebody has created a group and it didn’t get the traction and it’s been at least several months. Do you recommend they start over? They kill that group off and create a new one?

I would recommend that. I would recommend that they got to get my course. I made it affordable. That course, anybody can get and you can do it the right way. Sometimes people want to try to figure it out themselves and that’s fine. Takes a couple times but you can do it the right way from the first time with MeetUp Master. We updated it. There’s a 2.0 version. MeetUp is always changing so we have to update the course. I would say if you messed up the first time and there’s no traction, it’s done unless you’re marketing it through other channels but if the main channel is MeetUp then I would start over.

You’d pay the $89 over again.

No, you don’t. Per account, you get three MeetUps.

If you haven’t used the other two, then go ahead and do that. Otherwise, if you have then you’re going to have to buy another account.

You can shut those meet ups down.

You can set up a new one and that’s still within $89 membership.

Yep. You can step down as an organizer and eventually that group will cancel out and then you’ll have another one you can set up.

Good tip. How much is the course by the way? The MeetUp Master course.

We have it on sale. Normally, the course is $1,000. By the way, I will be putting it back to $1,000 because I did a live event. It was called MeetUp Master live. It was a two-day event and I’m putting that event into the back end. When I do that, it’s going to be $1,000. For people who get it right away, not only are they going to get it at the discounted price which isn’t even half of that but I’m also going to grandfather them into this course that I’m going to be putting in, that live event course which is over 10 hours of content. Right now, if they go to meetupmaster.com, it’s only $297. That’s it.

This episode is going to air in about a month. Given that, they’re going to be hearing this for the first time in a month from one we’re speaking right now. How does that timing work? What’s the availability of this special price?

Go to the website now and check it out. If it’s at $297 then you’re lucky you can still get it for $297. By that time, it’s very likely that it would have gone to $997. It’ll be $1,000 but if you’re hearing this right and you’re part of Stephan’s community, you’ll pay the $997 and just email us and we’ll refund you the difference.

That’s awesome and very generous. Let’s jump to another topic. I know we’re going to get close to time here in a couple minutes but I do want to talk about this idea of velocity and how if you don’t have the traction, this goes for not just meetup.com but for a lot of social networks. We’ll die on the vine very quickly if there seems to be no traction as far as the search or social algorithm is concerned, it’s thinking that this isn’t of interest to our base. Having velocity and that traction, you post something to Facebook and the first certain number of hours either it takes off or it doesn’t then it gets buried. That sort of algorithm is also in place in MeetUp, correct?

That is. What happens is you have one chance to set it all up. That one chance you have to set it all up is going to be the key opportunity. If you don’t set it all up and MeetUp sends it out, then what happens is if it’s not attractive to your target market, then that’s it. There’s some sort of strategy that you have to follow. The best advice I can give you is to think like your customer, to think like your target market. Don’t think like you, the entrepreneur, the business owner, the person who wants to make money and make a sale, don’t think like that. Think like the member that you want to attract. What is going to resonate with them? What do they want? How can you support them? You will get people if the messaging is right. Remember, this is the first experience they’re having of you. That’s why our Taco Tuesday does so great because it’s literally like hey, come out for free tacos. Come get to know your local entrepreneurs in your community and we’re going to feed you and you’re going to learn something. Who does not want to come out to that? That fills up and that sells out. We can’t have more than 30 people at that event because the room doesn’t fit more. That sells out. That is the best advice I can give is think like your target market. What do they want? Not what you want because that’s irrelevant. The only way you get what you want is by giving people what they want and then you’ll get what you want in return.

Think like your target market. What do they want? Not what you want because that’s irrelevant.

Let’s leave this interview on a real high note and share a super secret strategy or tactic. You shared some great ones already like the Microsoft Store idea, that’s genius. Setting up three groups to promote one event, genius. Let’s circle back to this idea of capturing people’s emails and phone numbers because MeetUp doesn’t provide that. Would you be willing to share your super secret strategy on how to get people to give you their phone number?

For your group, Stephan, I will. I’ll happily do that. It’s because I’ve had a lot of people help me along the way. People that when I was down and out with one of my companies went under, I had a friend embezzle half a million dollars from me. I was down and out. The entrepreneur journey for me has been a roller coaster. It hasn’t all been roses. There’s been a lot of ups and downs and you know what? It continues because as you grow a six figure company to a seven figure company to an eight figure company into a nine figure company, guess what? There’s some huge decisions you need to make that could make or break it. That’s the bottom line. That’s the entrepreneur journey, that’s the life. I’ve had great people help me and I’m happy to help anyone who is a massive action taker. That’s important because listening to this podcast might be great. It sounds good, it feels good, it tastes good but you know what? Nothing matters if you don’t do something. You have to take massive action and that’s the key. That’s the difference. Most of the time, that action is going to be a learning experience. It may or may not be the right decision because you don’t know often times until you take action. If you have mentors, if you have people guiding you, smart people like you Stephan that I’m proud to call a friend and somebody who I can bounce ideas off with then you’re going to succeed way faster. Here it is, here is the tip. This is how you get emails and phone numbers, simple. Success is simple. It’s not easy but it’s simple. When you set up your MeetUp group, you can ask questions for that person who’s about to join your group to answer. Sometimes, those questions are like what is it that you do, why did you join the group, what value can you bring to the group? I love asking that one. Here’s the key. We ask this question, very important, it says, what is your best email and phone number to welcome you to the group with? Something like that. What is the best email and phone number, not or, to be able to welcome you to the group and then they put in their phone number or email and we go above and beyond and we make that phone call. I have my assistant reach out to them and welcome them. That simple step right there, calling them, increases the chances of them showing up which meet up has a very high flake ratio and also that builds our list to be able to get permission from them to email them and text them and stay in contact with them.

I love it. The fact that you have a link on your profile to get your book for free which normally you’d have to pay for. You’re all about adding massive value and differentiating yourself from everybody and going the extra mile. That’s a great way to be in the world and in business.

That’s the key.

Thank you for sharing all these amazing tips and super awesome strategies that set you apart from everybody else on MeetUp and turns MeetUp in to an ATM machine for your business. Your course is available at what URL?

meetupmaster.com. If anyone has any question or they want some extra help then just email me. It will go to my assistant but she’ll set us up a time to chat. That’s mel@meetupzoo.com. On meetupzoo.com, there’s a free guide and it’s the 11 biggest mistakes organizers make. You can go to meetupzoo.com, opt in, get that guide, super crucial especially if you’re serious about taking massive action in regards to setting up a meet up or participating on meetup.com. If you’re ready for the course, go grab it, meetupmaster.com.

Awesome. Thank you again, Mel. Thank you, listeners. We are going to make available show notes with links to all these different things that we talked about in the episode. I’ll have a checklist of actions to take. Again, you want to take massive action and not just listen passively to these episodes and think wow, that was good information. You got to apply it in your business and your life in order to get the result. To do that, I’ve made it even easier for you. You have a checklist of actions to take from this episode and then a transcript of the entire episode is all available at marketingspeak.com. Thank you, Mel. Thank you, listeners. This is Stephan Spencer. We’ll catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak.

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About Mel Cutler

A serial entrepreneur since the age of 19, Mel Ethan Cutler has created seven companies in four different markets. After spending years struggling to bridge the gap of finding clients online and bringing them offline, he created MeetupZoo to support business owners in creating a committed community who are looking for their product or service.  He has now mastered the #1 social media tool for small businesses, Meetup.com, to build a list and create a dedicated local following of people who want their specific product or service.

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