7 Lessons for Hosting an Offline Event, from Supermama in Egypt

by Maya Rahal, January 23, 2013

A year after it launched, Supermama decided to venture into offline events in Egypt- a new move for the first Arabic online parenting community. To do so, founders Zeinab Samir and Yasmine El-Mehairy hired a PR company and tested the possibilities, in hopes of getting the word out to an offline community of mothers.  

The startup, which offers advice on health, cooking, pregnancy, parenting and careers, all in Arabic, had recently celebrated its first anniversary, releasing a mascot and a new video feature.

After their event, however, Supermama decided to refocus on their new video feature, concluding that marketing online was best for their audience. Here, El-Mehairy shares some of her thoughts on the disadvantages of wandering away from the online world as a digital startup, in hopes that it helps others determine the right way to present their offline presence.

  1. Remember that offine events don't convert directly to online traffic. They do create a buzz, but this kind of buzz may take a while to materialize into something tangible.
     
  2. Be sure you have the budget- offline events are expensive. A venue and catering (even if its just a coffee break) are the obvious costs, but then giveaways, service tips (which are unavoidable in the Middle East), and equipment rental add up (most venues charge extra for microphones, projectors and such).
     
  3. Don't expect the majority of those who signed up to attend. We actually had closer to 30% show up, after registration and phone confirmation.
     
  4. Getting press coverage is also something to budget and plan for.
     
  5. Be sure to pick a venue that suits your users best. For Supermama, middle-class housewives need a location that their husbands approve of.
     
  6. Offline events have a very long term effect. To create consistency and see an effect, you need to keep spending on events and PR for several months before it pays off.
     
  7. Consider several offline mediums. For instance, how does being covered in a magazine convert into increased website visitors? Think outside of the event box.

Why Video?

One thing their offline event did help the Supermama team do was determine how best to allocate their resources. In their new video series, they've released seven different installations, each of which offers a quick 2-3 minute "do it yourself" tutorial showcasing interviews with pediatrics and general doctors, or discussing activities for moms and children to do during vacations.

Supermama opted for video because busy mothers in the Arab world can assimilate visual and audio presentation faster than text while multitasking, and also because "video spreads like fire on social media", says El-Mehairy.

In the first three weeks, their video series has registered 56,000 views, 12% from Saudi Arabia, which their offline event could not have helped them reach; it pays to test and pivot in order to scale at a healthy pace. 

Disclosure: Wamda Capital has invested in SuperMama. 

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Maya works as the managing editor at Wamda. You can reach her at maya[AT]wamda.com, find her on Twitter @RahalMaya or connect with her on LinkedIn or Google+.


 
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