Company’s founders asked to sit on multi-business panel
When Wendy and Travis Gavinski of Divas SnowGear were invited to be panelists at a Facebook Fit educational workshop in Chicago, the husband-and-wife duo knew the event would be a great marketing and networking opportunity for their business. But when they accepted the invitation, they did so with a different goal in mind — sharing the workshop with a few of their retail partners.
“First and foremost it was something that we felt that was obviously good for our business, but more important, good for our partners. We’ve been trying to figure how we can tie in what we’ve been doing with the advisory council with some of our partners,” Travis Gavinski said.
As members of Facebook’s Small to Medium Business Council, the Gavinskis were asked to participate in the event to share their experience with marketing on Facebook.
The July 10 Facebook Fit event in Chicago, the third of five nationwide Fit workshops, included nearly identical morning and afternoon sessions designed to help small businesses learn about Facebook’s advertising opportunities, along with services offered by sponsors Square, LegalZoom and QuickBooks. More than 800 people combined attended the event at a cost of $25 per person.
“I think it was extremely cost efficient, and I think it was also a very good session to attend for anyone who uses or wants to use social media as part of the business,” Gavinski said.
Knowing the agenda included sessions on online sales, in-store sales, getting started on Facebook and more, the Divas staff was excited to share the event. Divas invited Wendi and Whitney Fogelson of Up North Sports in Bemidji, Minn.; Michael Lutes of GearUp2Go.com in Appleton, Wis.; and Mark Browning of FirstPlaceParts.com in Aberdeen, S.D., to join its staff at the event.
“Ultimately we felt that this would be a good avenue to help them with their social media presence but also with the rest of their business with the other partners there,” Gavinski said.
Whitney Fogelson said she learned about using Facebook to better engage with powersports customers and about using Square to complete transactions at tradeshows.
“The event overall was really nice — especially for those who didn’t have to travel very far,” she said. “It was clean, inviting, endless snacks and terrific speakers. It was also fun to hear from other business owners around the region and what they’ve struggled with and things they’ve accomplished.”
Fogelson also learned from conversations with Wendy and Travis Gavinski throughout the day, and from the panel the two were a part of, along with representatives from Morgan Miller Plumbing in Grandview, Mo.; The Silver Fox in Streator, Ill.; and Lou Malnati’s pizza, with multiple locations in the Chicago area.
Though Gavinski was at the event primarily to share the educational opportunity with the three retailers Divas invited and to be part of the panel, he and Wendy also learned much from the sessions they attended. They learned about the services LegalZoom offers and learned about Facebook’s “lookalike audience” targeting, which helps companies market to customers who have similar demographics as the company’s current audience.
“We gained a better understanding of some tools that are available on Facebook because we’re very familiar with Facebook, but we’re by no means experts, and they’re always adding and updating things,” Gavinski said.
Divas also benefitted from exposing the 800 attendees to its brand, networking with fellow business owners and interacting with media in attendance. The Gavinskis also had the opportunity to meet Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who addressed the crowd at the start of the afternoon session. Gavinski said that although Divas is based out of southern Wisconsin, Emanuel still showed interest in the company and remarked on the uniqueness of marketing snowmobile gear to women.
“That was neat. It was definitely interesting, and I think it added an interesting component to the event itself,” Gavinski said. “To hear him speak and to hear him deliver actionable items to help businesses grow and make things easier for them was obviously reassuring that he is pro small business in the Chicagoland area.”
Divas is now waiting for its next Small to Medium Business Council meeting and is working to find ways to use its presence on the council to the benefit of its dealer partners.
“If we can help other businesses grow via social media, we want to do that,” Gavinski said, “because it’s something that we truly believe in.”