We've blogged a few times about the power of in-person events to spread your brand message. This applies even if, or perhaps especially if, your product is entirely virtual. VIVmag, the first paperless, interactive women's magazine, which launched in August of the past year, is using its Maven Parties to spread the word. According to Ann Wycoff, VIV's PR Director, this, viral word-of-mouth
effort is a key component of the magazine's launch strategy, which
targets a 35+ woman who is
"more confident about her appearance and personal style because she has more life experience. She is therefore more interested in elegant, sophisticated fashion than in trendy clothing. At the same time, she faces some unique concerns about aging skin and hair, so we are putting more emphasis on anti-aging advice than younger women's titles do."
Hosted by influencers in key markets (savvy, connected women identified by the editorial staff - a team comprised of former Shape staffers), Maven Parties treat 20-30 tastemakers to cocktails or tea and appetizers (depending on time of day), gift bags and a free one-year subscription as well as an informal presentation of the concept by VIVmag leaders, including Canadian entrepreneur (and sole investor) David Gilmour who launched Fuji Water.
The first Maven Party was a tea party in New York held at Lady Grendle, and the idea is to mix up the party venues based on the city and hosting maven. For example, upcoming (or may have happened by now as I was hit and run by the flu all last week) Dallas Maven Parties will be held at retail locations like Sephora and Klinger Spa. With so many companies looking to online resources, such as social networking sites, to build word-of-mouth, you might wonder why a virtual product is building its brand offline. Wycoff says online buzz building is certainly in VIV's plans, but
we want discussions about VIV in these forums to be organic and not artificially placed. ... these two kinds of communities are not mutually exclusive. Mediabistro, Meetup and Ryze are excellent examples of how digital networking inspires "real-world" meet-ups.
The purpose of this post isn't to review the magazine per se (although we do think that more media focused on women who are over 35 and not trying to look or act 18 is much needed) but to bring attention to an example of grassroots brand building that we think is smart, engaging and very in-tune with their target audience.