April 2nd 2012 was the official start of my Business, Leadership and Personal Growth Meetup Book Club. Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership was the book we discussed that night, all three of us in attendance. I started the book club as a business and stretch goal, to read a book a month.
Literacy is important to me and I’m an avid learner, but I struggled to find the time to read while growing my business. This goal was my way of making a change. However, I didn’t want to go on this book reading journey alone.
I decided to use the online platform, Meetup, to create the book club. I jumped into Meetup with the aim of inviting more than just the people I knew. I wanted to make it open to the greater community.
Now, going into its eighth year, we have read 84 books and have over 100 members in the group (yes, a book club that actually reads the books). I have learned some valuable insights and tools from running the book club, but one of the most important was how to develop a brand identity and improve brand awareness.
What is Brand Identity?
The definition of brand identity is the communication the consumer receives from the product, person, or thing. A brand’s identity is meant to connect with the consumer and become instantly recognizable to them.
An unforeseen bonus of running this book club was the additional brand awareness and digital footprint I created for my business. During this time, my business reaped numerous benefits, including:
• Acquired three clients through the book club
• Received additional SEO for me
• Received additional SEO for Solutions by JoyGenea
• Provided additional networking opportunities for my business
• Demonstrated my personal and business values through community involvement
Any good business benefits from having good relations in the community and giving back. The book club became a great way to welcome new people to the area, to get them connected in a safe and professional environment, and give opportunities to new and current members of the community.
In this book club, I’ve helped people learn the area, meet new people, and even get jobs. It’s rewarding to give back to a community that has been great to me both personally and professionally.
Marketing and Your Digital Footprint
In marketing, we always talk about being authentic with your messaging and the voice of your marketing. People can tell when you are trying to be something that you’re not and, in the digital world, they will call you out on any BS in a very public manner. That is why it’s important to use the digital tools available to make your brand and marketing message authentic and accurate.
Your website is one digital marketing tool. There are others that can help support your brand identity goals and be more than just marketing.
• Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
• Guest Blogging
• Comment in LinkedIn Groups
• Comment and share on your clients social feeds
• Join a board or foundation of an organization you care about
• Write an article for a trade magazine in your industry
• Teach a class at a conference
All of these will give you additional web presence and build your brand identity in your industry.
As another year of book club starts, I am excited to see which books I will love and which ones I will wish had never been written. I can truly say that I have gained something from every one of the books we have read. I never thought the book club would being going eight years later, but I’m so glad I took the leap and set the goal. I wouldn’t be where I am without it.
I am so grateful and so thankful,
Additional Book Club Insights
Here are a few additional insights (both good and bad) that I’ve experienced over the years of running the book club:
• Multiple new members to the community have found jobs through the meetings
• I have had to block people from the meetings due to behavior issues
• The diversity of books brings a diversity of people to each meeting
• Block people from commenting against others in the group
• Location really does matter. Julie’s really is a wonderful place to meet
• The quality of the book choices improved when everyone started adding suggestions
For a complete list of all of the books we have read: