In 2015, I created a marketing Meetup. I was inspired by good friend Rich Schwerin (@Greencognito), who ran, with a few others, a content strategy Meetup in Mountain View.
We’d get together at the Tied House Brewery and chat about content strategy and marketing. Rich inspired me to launch a Meetup in my town, San Mateo. Not wanting to conflict with Rich’s topic, I decided to focus on B2B blogging.
So I went to Meetup.com and created the San Mateo B2B Bloggers Meetup.
Note: Read my related post, “Lessons Learned from Running a Marketing Meetup.”
Rapid Growth over Three Years
We’re now three years old! 🎂
Starting with two members (Rich and me), we’ve grown to 469 members (as of September 2018) and hosted 38 Meetups. We’ve had presenters from Marketo, VMware, Flipboard, Demandbase, SiriusDecisions and other leading companies.
We also hosted Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents California’s 14th Congressional District.
Along the way, we re-branded to serve a broader mission and attract a wider audience.
We’re now the Bay Area Content Marketing Meetup ✊
In this post, I look back on all of the Meetups we hosted.
Are you interested in presenting to our group? Email me, email@example.com.
September 2015: Inaugural Meetup
It all began with an informal get-together. We didn’t yet have a venue, so we met at Vault 164, a restaurant in San Mateo. I didn’t even have a reservation.
In the Meetup description, I wrote: “Let’s meet at the bar at 6:30pm [though I’ll look to secure a more dedicated spot based on planned attendance numbers].”
We had five people RSVP on Meetup.com, a count that included me.
If everyone showed up, I figured we could still stand around the bar area at the restaurant.
Instead of standing at the bar, we decided to grab a table. We ordered food and talked about marketing, interests and life in general.
Side note: Laurie played a key role in the forming of this Meetup. Earlier, she introduced me to Rich Schwerin, which is how I began to attend Rich’s Mountain View Meetups.
We’d have our first presentation-based Meetup the following month.
Securing a Venue
With our first presentation approaching, I needed to secure a venue. I looked into a few options in San Mateo: the public library, Draper University and a co-working space.
Each of those options had costs involved and I had no budget 😜
At the time, I was working for DNN Software in San Mateo, so I asked if I could use our office to host the Meetups.
Navin Nagiah, the CEO, said yes. Thanks, Navin!
We used the DNN office for the first two years of our Meetup.
Today, we’re in the same building at 155 Bovet Road, thanks to building tenant and meetup sponsor 3Q Digital.
October 2015: Blogging for Lead Generation
Our charter mission was B2B blogging and you’ll see that covered in our first several Meetups.
I put the label “[PRESENTATION]” in the title, probably to differentiate it from the prior month, when there wasn’t one.
Dayna shared a lot of good tips on using blog posts to generate B2B sales leads. She gave a number of examples from her roles at EverString and Marketo.
I wrote about Dayna’s presentation at The Funnelholic, someone you’ll get to know next 😎
November 2015: Best Practices for B2B Blogging
Craig Rosenberg is Chief Analyst at research and advisory firm TOPO.
On Twitter, Craig is known as The Funnelholic (he says hi).
In his presentation, Craig shared tips and insights from his blogging experiences on his personal site, Funnelholic, as well as at TOPO.
Craig covered the following:
- Build a personal brand, then put it to use.
- Use content to drive readership and conversation.
- Think about un-gating some of your longform content.
- Go out and meet people face-to-face.
- Make your content prescriptive and specific.
- Adapt your content to your customers’ needs.
- Use email (with content!) to build relationships.
December 2015: How to Get More People to Read Your Blog Posts
I scheduled the final Meetup of 2015 early in the month, so that it wasn’t too close to the holidays.
Tom Treanor, who’s now part of the core group of regulars for our Meetup, shared tips on content distribution.
Writing and publishing a blog post is just the first step.
Once published, we need to “put the marketing into content marketing,” something (I believe) Andy Crestodina once said.
Tom shared tips on how to get more people to see (and read) your blog posts.
We had four Meetups and ended the year at (probably) 50 members. In some ways, 2015 was our most important year: we got the Meetup off the ground, found a venue and developed the meeting format we continue to use today: 30 minutes of networking, followed by a 60 minute presentation.
March 2016: How to Achieve B2B Blogging Success with Contributed Content
We skipped January and February — I can’t remember why!
In March, we kicked off 2016 with a bang.
Clair Byrd gave a presentation on how she grew the content operation at InVision with content from its community of designers.
From the Meetup description:
“Clair’s contributions have helped over 1M users learn and grow in their careers and increased traffic to InVision-owned web properties by over 600% in under a year.”
I wrote about Clair’s presentation in an article for CMSWire.
April 2016: 21 Types of Content We Crave
Our April 2016 Meetup featured Scott Aughtmon.
According to the Meetup description:
“Scott will share the backstory behind the popular infographic/blog post that he wrote for ContentMarketingInstitute.com called 21 Types of Content We Crave.
He’ll also share three famous people who have used these methods and have become successful from using them.”
Here’s what Rich Schwerin had to say after Scott’s presentation:
Here’s what Scott Aughtmon had to say:
“When I spoke to the Bay Area Content Marketing Meetup, there were two things that really stood out to me:
1. The group that gathered there was a diverse group of content marketing professionals. There were people who work daily on the front lines in the content marketing arena. And they were people who were involved in content marketing on different levels from the corporate level to the entrepreneurial level.
2. The group of people there were not just skilled, they were also learners. I could see this from the level of engagement they displayed while I was speaking. And I could see it in the fact that many of them stayed after the set time to ask questions.
These two things showed me that Dennis has done a great job of gathering such a great group of people who are enjoyable to speak to from a speaker’s perspective and empowering to be around from members point of view.”
May 2016: How to Promote Your Posts on Social Media
Rita Rosenberg gave us a presentation on how to promote your blog posts on social media. Rita walked us through a set of slides. After that, we transitioned into a free-form dialog on the topic, where audience members chimed in with thoughts and questions about social media marketing.
June 2016: Content Strategy & Content Marketing Defined: And Why B2B Bloggers Should Care
I admit, this question stumped me at the time:
“What’s the difference between content strategy and content marketing?”
Some people use them interchangeably, when they’re really two distinct disciplines.
Rich saw the confusion in the community and wanted to put an end to it 💪
According to the Meetup description:
“Rich will explain the difference between content marketing and content strategy. He’ll convince B2B bloggers that understanding this distinction is essential to your blogging success.”
I wrote about Rich’s presentation in an article for CMSWire.
July 2016: 10 Blogging-Related Tools I Can’t Live Without
We had our first presenter cancellation, which arose when the original presenter changed jobs and was no longer available.
Since we already had people signed up, I decided to keep the date. I looked inward to find a replacement speaker (me!).
I presented 10 tools that I used in my role as editor of DNN Software’s blog.
I categorized the tools as follows:
Here’s my presentation:
August 2016: How to Involve Influencers in Your Blogging
Carter Hostelley has played a sizable role in the growth and evolution of this Meetup.
He attended our first meeting, he presented to our group and he’s the person who recommended we re-brand from “San Mateo B2B Bloggers” to “Bay Area Content Marketing.”
Thanks, Carter! 🙏
I often look to Carter and his team at Leadtail for insights on influencer marketing.
Carter’s presentation shared tips on how to involve influencers in both the creation and promotion of blog content.
September 2016: How to Create Unforgettable Content Using Techniques from Improv Comedy
Kathy Klotz-Guest joined us for an engaging and fun Meetup in September.
Kathy is Founder of Keeping it Human and author of the book “Stop Boring Me! Improv-Powered Techniques to Create Kick-Ass, Engaging Marketing Content.”
Kathy presented a few slides to provide context, but reserved much of the time to hands-on exercises.
Kathy split the audience into small groups. She had the groups perform improv exercises. The output from each exercise was ideas for new content.
It was so fun. Marketing teams could use these techniques when planning content calendars, particularly the ideation part. They should give it a shot!
Here’s a tweet from Rich Schwerin about Kathy’s presentation:
October 2016: Hacking Content Marketing with Predictive Analytics
In October, Sean Zinsmeister, then with predictive marketing software provider Infer, gave a presentation on how to hack content marketing with predictive analytics.
Sean showed how predictive analytics uses machine learning algorithms to compare current visitors (e.g. leads) to the firmographic and activity-based profiles of an organization’s customers.
Sean used a case study from Infer’s own marketing to show two campaigns side by side. While campaign A had a far higher number of leads, campaign B generated fewer, but had more high-quality leads — those with a higher likelihood of converting to customers.
Class case of quality over quantity.
Here’s a photo from Sean’s presentation:
And here’s a short video from Sean’s presentation:
November 2016: How Content Marketing Helps David Beat Goliath
Maria Ross is a brand strategist and author.
Maria’s presentation was based on her book, “Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget.”
Her presentation was geared towards small-to-midsized businesses, who don’t have the budget or resources of their larger competitors, but need to win business from them nonetheless.
We provided each attendee with a free (and signed!) copy of Maria’s book:
Rich Schwerin wasn’t able to make it to Maria’s Meetup. However, we saved a signed copy for him:
December 2016: Lessons Learned from Launching a Podcast
Earlier in 2016, David launched the Sales Development podcast.
He shared lessons learned in launching the podcast, covering everything from recording to promotion to editing.
If you check out the list of podcast episodes at iTunes, you’ll see that David has not let up! He has a wealth of interviews with the leading names in sales development.
Here is Rich Schwerin’s tweet from the Meetup:
And here’s what David Dulany had to say about the Meetup:
“Great speakers, engaging topics, wise and knowledgeable members. The Content Meetup Dennis puts together is a highly valuable group I’d recommend to anyone interested in the topic.”
It was our first full year and I was really happy with the quality of the presentations and our member growth.
The breadth of topics was really good: podcasting, influencer marketing, blogging, predictive analytics, improv comedy and content strategy.
This Meetup thing seems to be working out 😎
January 2017: The Rise of Fake News and How Content Marketers Adapt
Before the term “fake news” fully entered the vernacular, Linda Popky tackled the topic at our Meetup.
According to the description for Linda’s presentation:
“Fake news has gotten significant news coverage in the aftermath of the recent presidential election.
How this will affect legitimate creators and providers of content?
Will the public scrutinize all content more carefully? Will there be a backlash, and potential limitations for content providers in general? What steps should legitimate content providers take to distinguish their content from the fakes?”
Linda did a great job explaining what fake news is and helping us understand how we can adapt our marketing strategies in light of it.
I wrote about Linda’s presentation at CMSWire.
February 2017: Your Most Pressing Marketing Questions: Answered
According to February 2017’s Meetup description:
“Bring your most pressing questions on content marketing, influencer marketing, SEO, content strategy, social media marketing and more. We have an expert duo to provide the answers.”
We decided to mix things up and have an “Ask Me Anything” style format. In addition to the answers provided by Carter and Tom, we invited attendees to chime in with their thoughts, too.
Rich Schwerin looks back on that February evening:
“Take decades of combined marketing experience, add charisma and humor, and the result was a lively Ask-Me-Anything style discussion among the dozen or so attendees, making for a great night of knowledge sharing.”
Also, Rich recruited our youngest member:
“On the nights when my wife is busy, I love bringing our 7-year-old daughter to the meetups. She loves eating jellybeans and watching DVDs in the adjacent room.”
Rich tweeted from the Meetup:
Here are some photos from the evening:
I wrote a post about the Meetup, which provided the questions and answers covered that night.
March 2017: ABM: Beyond the Hype, Getting Results
Jessica Fewless is a highly regarded thought leader in the B2B marketing space, having coached 100’s of companies, from large Enterprise to agile startups, on shifting to the account-based approach.
She’s created over 16 hours of ABM Certification curriculum to help all B2B marketers learn the basics and best practices alike for building a successful ABM strategy.
Jessica’s presentation was titled “ABM: Beyond the Hype, Getting Results.”
Jessica explained what Account Based Marketing (ABM) is, then covered the benefits to Sales & Marketing teams.
She gave us a look at ABM maturity models and provided tips on how to plan and launch an ABM program.
Here’s a tweet from Rich Schwerin:
March 2017: How to Perform a Content Audit
Our March Meetup featured Phyllis Davidson, research director at SiriusDecisions.
According to the Meetup description:
“Phyllis Davidson will share a methodical process for conducting a content audit in phases, sanity intact.
She’ll also share stories of b-to-b organizations that have eliminated upwards of 70% of their content, proving the notion that less is often more.”
My lasting memory from Phyllis’ presentation was an acronym: “ROT.” It’s a simple guide for content audits. It stands for:
Speaking from experience — as the years go by and the content machine continues to crank, you’ll accumulate a lot of ROT. It’s best to identify it and eliminate it.
Here’s a tweet from Rich:
I wrote about Phyllis’ presentation for CMSWire.
April 2017: How to Apply Neuroscience to Make Your Content Impossible to Ignore
Using principles covered in her 2016 book, Dr. Carmen Simon taught us how to apply neuroscience to create unforgettable content.
Here’s a link to Carmen’s book:
Carmen provided some background on how memory works from a neurological point of view. She then covered tactics marketers can use to make content stand out (i.e. be memorable).
Carmen had attendees participate in an interactive exercise. Everyone was asked to select a photo from their camera roll or tablet and email it to her:
April 2017: Ten Minute Website Makeovers (with a Website Expert)
Attendees could pre-submit their website by emailing their URL to Rosemary (i.e. ahead of the Meetup date).
This is how the Meetup was communicated:
“Is your website your best sales tool? It should be, according to search visibility guru Rosemary Brisco. This is your opportunity to get immediate feedback on how your website can drive more visitors and leads.”
Rosemary received a handful of submissions and developed complimentary make-overs for each site. She presented the before-and-after view during the Meetup, spending about 10 minutes per site.
Of course, she didn’t actually re-do the sites, but showed mock-ups of how the sites (e.g. homepages) could be optimized for more visitors and leads.
Here is Rosemary’s presentation:
Here’s a tweet from Rich Schwerin:
June 2017: Mastering the Art of Content Curation: A Discussion with Flipboard
- What’s the difference between content curation and aggregation?
- How do we make decisions about what’s worthy and relevant content for audiences?
- How can curation support branding of a company or a product?
- Are there ways curation can boost content distribution and audience reach?
They also shared how brands such as Marriott Traveler, Sony and CloudLine Apparel are using content curation (on Flipboard) in their content marketing strategies.
Here’s a word of thanks we tweeted after the presentation:
July 2017: How to Use Twitter to Grow Your Personal Brand
Twitter has helped me grow my personal brand. I use Twitter to share knowledge, connect with people and engage in conversations. I presented in July to share my experiences in using Twitter for personal branding.
Before I dove into Twitter, I defined what a personal brand is, along with the importance of actively managing it. I mentioned a blog post by David Meerman Scott that started my own personal branding journey.
Next, I recommended that everyone develop a mission statement for their Twitter use.
I want to share interesting content about Marketing, while showing people that I don’t take life too seriously.
I want people to think of me as useful and engaging.
My ultimate goal is to meet new people and find interesting content.
Other areas I covered:
- Optimizing your profile (photo, bio, location, URL)
- Consistently sharing useful content
- Participating in Twitter chats
- How to engage with other users
Here’s a photo from the presentation, taken by Rich Schwerin:
August 2017: How a Customer Community Informs Your Content Marketing (with Marketo)
Janet was responsible for Marketo’s Marketing Nation community.
- How to listen to your customers
- How to take what you heard and turn it into great content
- How to engage with your customers to improve your content
- How to leverage content created by your customers
September 2017: Structured Networking Event for Marketers
This was one of our highest attended Meetups ever.
Rosemary Brisco and Rich Schwerin were the hosts. The structure was:
- Lightning round of introductions
- Individual pitches — an attendee would present a pitch to Rosemary and Rich, who’d in turn provide suggestions and/or introduce the individual (later on) to connections who could help
Here’s how the lightning round was structured:
And here’s a short video from the lightning round. As my camera spanned from one side of the room to the next, Rich called on me to introduce myself 😆
October 2017: Jason Hekl’s Personal Journey into Podcasting
Jason walked us through his process for recruiting guests and preparing for and conducting interviews. He also covered how he promotes each episode through social media channels, and what technologies and services he uses to support the show.
We were thrilled that Paul Taylor, Jason’s co-host on Marketing Milestones, was able to join us to speak alongside Jason.
November 2017: How to Use Medium to Bolster Your Brand: An Infallible Guide
Our November Meetup had unique circumstances.
First, our usual venue in San Mateo was not available.
A contact of mine at Intero Real Estate in San Mateo was kind enough to let us use a conference room in her office.
Next, Dakota Shane, our presenter, had recently left the Bay Area, so he presented to the group via web meeting software.
I set up a web meeting, logged in on my laptop, then projected my laptop onto a screen. I ran into a number of logistical issues with the web meeting and that impacted the presentation.
Dakota was patient and considerate — and we were able to power on 🤟
You’re reading this post right now on Medium — and that was the focus of Dakota’s session. He showed attendees how to make the most of Medium as a publishing platform.
Tom Treanor had the following to say:
“One of my favorite sessions was the one given by Dakota Shane. It was a rare meetup with the presenter dialing in, but the content was so strong that it stood out as one of my favorites. I liked the practical advice about growing your audience, getting featured by larger Medium magazines, and the types of content that works!”
Here’s a look at the room set-up:
And here’s a video of Dakota’s presentation!
December 2017: Storytelling Secrets for B2B Marketers
Chris also showed how to construct stories to elevate your mission, product and brand.
Thanks to our friends at 3Q Digital, whom Chris introduced us to, we returned to our venue at 155 Bovet Road in San Mateo.
We moved from the old DNN Software office on the second floor down to a larger room on the building’s first floor.
Here’s a short video from Chris’ presentation:
December 2017: Public Leadership in The Age of Social Media: Q&A w/ Congresswoman Jackie Speier
We were thrilled to have Congresswoman Jackie Speier speak to our group.
Congresswoman Speier’s local office is in the same building we host our Meetups in.
Originally, Congresswoman Speier was scheduled to do a Q&A with us after hours (e.g. 6:30pm).
Due to changes in the Congresswoman’s schedule, we moved the Q&A to a new date and scheduled it for the morning.
While the original idea was for the Congresswoman to answer questions related to public leadership and social media, we hosted a broader audience than just marketers, so we changed it up to a general Q&A.
Here’s a photo of me with Congresswoman Speier:
We hit our stride in 2017, with the most Meetups in any year so far. There were a few times we hosted two Meetups in the same month. Since then, we determined that a higher number of Meetups can dilute our attendance, so we returned to a frequency of one per month.
We had a lot of great presenters this year, including our local Congresswoman!
We mixed things up, with new formats such as the website makeovers and structured networking event.
Let’s bring on 2018!
January 2018: How to Use Quizzes to Generate Leads
The idea of Interact is to use fun and engaging quizzes to obtain email opt-ins from users. For example, for the results of a quiz, users could opt to receive those results by email.
Here’s a short video in which Josh discusses why we love quizzes:
February 2018: Measuring the ROI of Employee Advocacy
Pushpa is Founder of employee advocacy platform Advo.Ninja, which is now known as MarketBeam.
Pushpa started the presentation by explaining what employee advocacy is — enabling your best brand ambassadors (e.g. your employees) to advocate for your organization or cause.
Next, Pushpa discussed the tangible benefits of employee advocacy and how organizations can use those benefits to quantify return on investment (ROI).
Here’s a tweet from Rich:
Here’s what Pushpa had to say about the Meetup:
“Dennis is very professional and organized in scheduling the Meetups. The audience had a strong background in content marketing and thoroughly participated in the session.”
Thanks, Pushpa! 🙏
March 2018: How to Write a Great Blog Post
I presented at our March Meetup. Earlier in the year, I gave a blogging presentation at DNN Summit in Denver, Colorado. I decided to give the same presentation to our Meetup group.
I broke the blogging process down into these elements:
All too often, we spend all of our time on the middle phase, “Production” (i.e. the writing). I urged the audience to spend an equal amount of time on all three phases.
I also shared insights on how I approach each one. Here’s the presentation:
Here’s what Wendy Baruh had to say about the presentation:
“At PreQualified Mates, we’ve gone all-in on our salacious dating blog and had gone on a hard contact search to understand the art & science of viral blog growth. Dennis’ Meetup on Blogging was super helpful.
Second to my Meetup groups (~.~), Dennis’ are so valuable. The SEO Meetup was illuminating; such daunting, overwhelming tasks. The support and inclusiveness of his Meetup is sincerely appreciated.”
March 2018: Using Content to Market Through the Sales Process
Adam New-Waterson partnered with a large team to make a potentially boring topic into a visually striking campaign. It touched every aspect of the sales process and was enormously successful.
That was the background behind our March Meetup.
For more context, read the article listed in Rich’s tweet:
And here’s a short video from the Meetup:
April 2018: Personal Branding for Your Career: Notes from the Field
In April, Scott Brown came to give a presentation on personal branding for your career.
Scott Brown was newly into the job market after 12 years of progressive advancement with one company.
He shared learnings from transition coaching and current experience.
Scott showed audience members how to think about their personal brand and its value to their career.
In this video, Scott notes that with your personal brand, “your approach is your differentiator.”
Here’s what Scott Brown had to say about the Meetup group:
“What I love about this group is that gatherings focus on a practical theme for the evening, in a way that is open-minded, informal and welcoming. There’s a presentation, sure, but it feels like a fireside conversation of equals.
The Meetups are small enough, typically 10–25 people, that you easily connect with others. This is a gathering of intelligent, engaged professionals, committed to sharing experiences and solving challenges that help each other move careers, projects and strategies forward.”
May 2018: Top SEO Myths Dispelled
The concept for this Meetup was conceived a few months back, when I made an SEO claim at the Meetup. Rosemary Brisco replied, “Well, actually, that’s not true.” 😊
I heard an SEO myth from someone, accepted it as the truth, then spread the myth to others.
We decided to round up common SEO myths and dispel them. We had three presenters: Rosemary Brisco, Rich Schwerin and Tom Treanor. We had a pretty nice turnout:
Here’s the presentation:
And here’s a short video from the Meetup:
June 2018: How to Get Started with Search Engine Marketing
David covered bidding strategies, Google’s auction process for PPC ads, the Lin-Rodnitzky ratio and Alpha-Beta campaigns.
3Q Digital explains Alpha-Beta campaigns as follows:
“The process is a fool-proof way to ensure that your ads only show on profitable keywords and not on derivations that will only cost you money without results.”
Rich Schwerin tweeted from the Meetup:
July 2018: How to Get the Most Out of Flipboard
Christel provided a short presentation, then projected the screen of her phone and proceeded to show us interesting ways to find, curate and share content on Flipboard.
Rosemary Brisco attended the presentation and had this to say:
“I really enjoyed Christel’s session. Sometimes, starting out with a new platform or app can be a bit daunting, so it was great to have step-by-step instructions on setting up Flipboard and getting the most out of it for my business.”
Christel brought us some Flipboard swag — thanks, Christel!
July 2018: Launching into Revenue: How to Ensure Your Next Launch Is Wildly Successful
Jennifer LeBlanc was the presenter for our second Meetup in July, “Launching into Revenue: How to Ensure Your Next Launch Is Wildly Successful.”
Jennifer showed us how to ensure a revenue-generating launch with a step-by-step method that has helped companies, startups and nonprofits see $1.5B in new revenue and funding.
Jennifer shared a self-assessment scorecard that organizations can use to rate their readiness for launching new products and services. Jennifer’s launch methodology is captured in her book, which you can purchase at Amazon.
Prior to the Meetup, Rich Schwerin surprised fellow member Caroline Kvitka with a birthday song, cake and champagne 🍾
August 2018: How to Drive More Leads and Content Engagement at Lower Costs
James Kessinger, CMO at Hushly, gave a presentation on how leading companies are driving more leads and content engagement at lower costs.
Customers using Hushly’s technology are getting a 3–4x content engagement lift and 51+% more opt-in leads from their landing pages.
James gave us a short presentation, then showed us examples of Hushly’s technology on real-world landing pages and websites. He also showed us the analytics dashboard used by Hushly’s customers.
We’ll continue to have a Meetup each month in San Mateo. Over the past 3 years, we covered a lot of topics, so we’ll need to identify new topics or think of ways to mix up prior ones.
In addition, we’ll brainstorm and experiment on new formats, such as the website makeovers, structured networking event and “ask me anything.”
If you’d like to present to our group or have ideas on topics or formats, leave a comment below, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for getting to the bottom of this post 🙏