Today is THE big day! You have spent months planning this event, found the perfect venue, booked highly reputed guest speakers, and planned fun activities to entertain your audience. Cherry on the top, after weeks of pouring rain, the good weather is finally back. So, what could go wrong?
Surprise! You take a peek outside expecting to see a long line of excited attendees only to realize that the only people out there are your friends and family who are here to support you.
Putting a lot of money and planning into an event is not enough; you need to have a marketing plan to spread the word and to encourage your target audience to show up. No worries though- this will never happen if you follow our 12 steps to create a great marketing plan for your event.
Event marketing is not just sending emails and posting on social media. Planning an event requires organization, time, and focus. A well founded event marketing plan is strategic, aligns with your organization’s objectives, and is well-thought-out. It explains why you are hosting the event, what steps you will take to promote it, and how to measure performance and ROI.
You may ask, “What’s the importance of an event marketing plan?” An event marketing plan represents what you wish to achieve and what your marketing plan is founded on. The success of your event will depend on how you develop it in the early stages. When done efficiently and effectively, event marketing can take the product or service that your company offers directly to the target audience, and you can stay focused on your goals.
The first thing you need to do is determine what you wish to achieve with your event. Your marketing plan will be based on your event’s goals, so it is important to know the reasons for running the event. Do you wish to raise brand awareness? Are you looking to strengthen your relationships with others in the industry?
Once you set up your intended goals, you must determine your event marketing budget. The key is to identify all of the components that have a cost connected to them. Ideally, you want to examine past events to gather historical data on marketing costs. If this is your company’s first event, use a spreadsheet to help you manage all of the spendings and itemize them in detail.
Learn about your market and its customers through market research. This process will guide you in building your customer personas. A customer persona is a realistic or fictional representation of your ideal target consumer; in other words, it is your target audience. Getting to know your audience is the key to building strategies to connect and convince them to come to your event!
Creating an exceptional website will make your audience enthusiastic to come to your event. Consider spending both time and money to develop a website that is well-designed in terms of appearance and user experience. When developing the aesthetics part, make sure to use fonts and colors that are both eye-pleasing and easy to read. Include information about your event, such as the date and time, the schedule, and a RSVP button. Most importantly, don’t forget to incorporate your company brand on the landing page.
Create a marketing timeline that is designed to provide an overview of the marketing campaign that leads up to and follows your event. You can provide as many details as you want when mapping out your timeline. To make the task less of a headache and give better results, we recommend using a Gantt chart or similar project management system to track your steps. Ideally, when planning an in-person or hybrid event, you need to start marketing the event at least 6-9 months ahead. When it comes to virtual events, it is best to start planning between 3-6 months before.
The next step is to prepare valuable content for your target audience to keep them interested and engaged during the event. With your objectives in mind, start planning a schedule, list of guest speakers, as well as key messages to explain the benefits of attending your event. Have clear content management tactics planned before moving to the next steps. It will avoid you wasting time and having to do tons of manual tasks. You most likely won’t have all the event information from the start, but it is okay! It just means that you will have to manually keep your event website up-to-date regularly.
You can plan the best event in your industry, but your event won’t be successful if nobody comes. Hosts and guest speakers have the same goal, which is to attract as many attendees as possible to increase brand visibility and brand awareness. Use this common objective as part of your event marketing plan to encourage participants to help promote your event. Many speakers are highly reputed and have large networks, so don’t hesitate to ask them to use their social media to promote their session. Attendees could in return become promoters as well by sharing speakers’ posts, which would be great to advertise your event!
Market research will help you build customer personas to determine your target audience. You can also analyze attendee data collected from previous events, and if you have an event website, you can check the traffic to better understand your audience. Doing so will give you an idea on the impact of your event promotion. But don’t worry! You don’t have to be an SEO analyst to be able to do this. There are software that can show you real-time analytics without requiring technical expertise. You can learn from the data collected to help you adjust your event marketing plan and better prepare for your event.
Now that you have identified your audience and have valuable content, the next step is to find the best channels to reach your target attendees. You really need to have communications tactics in place to market the event and engage your audience. How can you effectively spread the word about your event? The tactics will depend on your target audience. For example, if you are targeting professionals, you could promote the event on LinkedIn. Other ways to promote your event would be through the use of e-mailing systems, social media, and more. Regardless of what channel you use, make sure to choose content that works well for it and that targets the audiences that use that network.
Use personalization tactics to capture your audience’s interests. Doing research to understand your attendees will help you tailor your means of communication and the event to them. Use pictures and videos from previous events when sending invitations to people who have been to your previous events. You can also send announcements to different groups of participants and offer early-bird tickets. Offering a customized experience will arouse interest in attendees who won’t want to miss your event!
Giving the opportunity for attendees to virtually interact with each other ahead of time leads to many events’ success. You can motivate your guests by organizing challenges like a photo and caption contest to keep them engaged. If they are having fun, they will want to come to your event, and it will increase word of mouth among attendees.
Measuring your ROI after each event is essential to determine its success. It also allows you to make revisions for future events and to keep delivering excellence to your stakeholders. During the event marketing plan process, you need to define event metrics, such as the number of attendees, session views, networking activities, and more. Other important metrics like website traffic and social media engagement will determine the success of your event marketing campaign. After your event, remember to gather feedback from the attendees. This will help you make your future events even better by learning what your audience liked and disliked.
A well-thought-out marketing plan leads to an event’s success. Keep in mind your event’s goal, identify your target audience, through content management, promotions efforts, and engagement tactics, there is no doubt that you will create a great marketing plan for your next event!