Vera Sugar is a marketing executive at Singing Dragon (an imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers), publishers of authoritative books on complementary health, yoga and yoga therapy, Chinese medicine and more. She is also co-chair of the PAW (Planet + People + Animal Welfare) working group at Hachette.
As a marketer, sometimes I get so stuck in my own bubble that I’m baffled if anyone – customers, colleagues, friends, family, the street cat – isn’t aware of the brand I represent. Working for a professional imprint that I passionately care about, I want all our readers to feel this passion too.
This is why at Singing Dragon, the complementary medicine imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers, we came up with a brand-building campaign with minimum spend: a two-day Virtual Yoga Summit, bringing together a wide range of knowledge and expertise from the community, for the community.
Inspired by previous online events, including our own Qigong Festival in 2016, we were keen to embark on a brand building as well as a fact-finding journey. We knew the yoga community is active online – we just had to find the right offering and message to reach them.
How did we go about it? We researched our target market thoroughly. This included looking at channels, formats of content and time zones – we aimed to cater to ‘attendees’ across the globe. We put together a plan, and devised the event’s structure, identity, theme and topic. Next, we collated and invited a range of authors and experts from around the world to be part of the event, and worked with them to shape the content. Rather than overtly self-promoting, we focused on the educational value. We also made the event completely free to access, available to anyone with a connection.
Our theme was Inclusive Yoga, so we wanted our content to be as diverse as possible. We had pieces on LGBTQ+ friendly classes, men doing yoga, using inclusive language in class, working with students affected by trauma, and more.
To help raise the profile of the event, we reached out to prestigious yoga studios and associations, offering partnerships whereby we ‘exchanged’ promotions across our channels with no cost (but lots of benefits) to either side. We also provided our contributors with a range of assets, and they used their own platforms to encourage sign-ups.
We created an Eventbrite page for registrations, as well as a digital event programme with the full schedule, partner and contributor bios and links to relevant books – again, with no cost attached.
By the date of the event, we had grown our subject mailing list by 65% and secured over 16 hours’ content from contributors, including an in-person panel discussion, a live yoga class and webinars, as well as articles, videos and even guided meditation podcasts. We used the Singing Dragon blog as our main hub – an established channel that already had regular visitors – and the free Facebook Live function for live events.
During the two days, we kept a close eye on our channels as content went live, and were on hand in case webinar hosts needed help. The teamwork was invaluable, especially when one of our live speakers had to pull out at the last minute: we put our heads together and swiftly filled the gap.
So what did we achieve? We most certainly achieved our objective of growing brand recognition, as we are still receiving positive feedback at conferences and online. We’ve grown our readership and international reach, as well as establishing valuable relationships and opening doors for joint promotions.
We were reminded that budget really isn’t everything – we provided two days of high quality content without splashing out.
We will also be looking at events as a business opportunity: could we use the Summit as a blueprint?
Most importantly though, we provided a platform to our expert authors to share their knowledge with the community, promote their wonderful books and initiate conversation. The event was unprecedented in the yoga field, and it has inspired us to think outside the box too.