Events are one of the longest standing tactics that companies use to connect with current and prospective customers. Despite an increasingly digital world, most marketers still believe in-person events are the single most effective channel for achieving business goals.
And there's science behind it. Humans are social beings. We build trust with others by interacting in person. And we tend to buy from companies — and people — that we trust.
But here's the challenge: while companies continue to invest in more live events, as prospective attendees...
- Our inboxes are inundated with requests and invitations. (And they come in all forms, like "read me," "click here," "buy now," and "RSVP.")
- We're busier than ever. (Anyone else have something planned nearly every night of the week? That recurring date to watch The Bachelor counts...)
As a result, we're all hoarders of what little free time we have, and rightfully so.
So the real obstacle we face as marketers is this: How can we as event hosts make our offering so compelling that 1) the event stands out enough for attendees to consider it, and 2) attendees are willing to give something else up in exchange for being there?
Here at Guru, we've experienced this first-hand, and we’ve decided to shift our events strategy as a result. Here’s how we created an intentional events strategy that focuses on providing attendees with authentic value, while also staying true to our core values.
Authenticity in action: How our “Give First with Guru" events got started
Historically, events were a part of our marketing and sales strategy at Guru, but our approach was fairly traditional: bring value to the customer through conferences, panels, and happy hours. While we were seeing some success from these events, they mirrored those of other companies and weren't necessarily a unique extension of our brand.
Internally, however, Guru’s events felt unique and authentic. Upon joining this company, part of what stood out was how diverse our employees’ interests were outside of their day-to-day jobs. Some common passions: seeking and sharing knowledge, music, and giving back. We have many side-hustling teachers, avid concert-goers, and community activists, who were regularly organizing internal events around these themes. Why not scale these passion projects externally?
We honed in on volunteering. Give First is one of Guru’s most compelling core values. It spans from the way we treat our fellow employees and our customers, to the way we interact with our communities and the world around us. Most established workplaces know about the benefits of giving back through your company but many don’t have someone dedicated to CSR.
Even those that do often find it challenging to source group volunteering opportunities. If we can help create these opportunities for other teams, we’d bring value to everyone involved — attendees, their teams, our brand, and our communities.
Last month, we launched Give First with Guru: A series of public, community volunteer events to help local tech teams give back in a meaningful way.
By bringing people together around a shared cause rather than just a dinner or happy hour, our hope is for like-minded and like-roled folks to connect and feel impactful outside of just their day-to-day work.
In January, we held our first two events in San Francisco and New York.
For our San Francisco event, we partnered with GLIDE Memorial Church, an organization that serves daily meals to SF’s poor, homeless and hungry. We brought in a group of 15 volunteers from 6 different companies to work the dinner service.
In New York, we partnered with YearUp, an organization that provides a one-year, intensive training program for underserved young adults to learn job-ready skills. Our team provided panel feedback and networked with over a dozen recent graduates to help get them ready for the working world.
Below are our next two San Francisco events:
Here is a Guru card listing the charities you can expect to see us partner with:
The marketing impact we've seen:
So how have our Give First events compared to our traditional events in terms of gauging interest and driving attendance? Here’s what we’ve seen so far:
- Higher overall response rates
- Higher registration rates
- Increased event partnership requests
- Repeat attendees
- Overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees
While this is just the start, we’re excited to see that bringing people together around a local cause can create a more successful — and impactful — marketing event.