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An event can hardly be considered an event if no one turns up.
Having a conference center, exhibition hall, or fundraising venue buzzing with activity and happy attendees is every event planner’s dream, but it takes a lot more work than sitting back and hoping for the best.
Hosting a successful event means crafting a slick marketing plan that gets attendees excited about… well, attending. This is easier said than done, especially when you consider all the different moving parts that go into an event marketing plan.
Bear in mind that there are three distinct stages to a marketing plan – before the event, during it, and after it’s finished.
Each of these stages are made up of a variety of different tasks, which is why it’s vital that you plan in advance and have your strategy straightened out before you even think about opening your event doors.
Don’t let this put you off, though.
Events can be incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons:
But to reap the benefits of an event and leverage their in-person power, you need an effective event marketing plan.
First things first, you need to have a clear grasp of your event details.
Make sure you have:
Once you’ve got all the key details nailed down, you can then move onto asking yourself clarifying questions that will help you plot the route of your marketing plan.
We’re talking questions like:
These will help you later on when it comes to promoting your event and reaching potential attendees with the right message.
Once you start gathering information to plan your event, you’ll need to keep it documented, and ensure you follow the process without missing a step.
Use these planning + checklist templates to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. Plus, this kit includes a marketing calendar template to help you schedule deadlines and important dates for each piece of the planning process.
A lot of talk about event marketing makes the process sound complex and complicated. But we believe that there are just three key components that make up a successful plan that gets tons of attendees:
We call these the three Cs of event marketing. Keep these safe in your back pocket, because you can always refer back to them if you feel yourself veering off path during the lead up to your event.
Let’s dig into these in a bit more detail.
The truth is, you won’t get tons of attendees at your event if you’re targeting the wrong people.
Before you start creating any collateral and content for your marketing plan, you need to know who you’re creating it for.
This allows you to provide relevant information that taps into the unique wants and needs of your target attendees, and means you can speak to them in a way that really resonates.
There are several ways you can get to know your customers.
The best place to start is your very own analytics. Through this data, you can determine the behavior patterns of your best customers and dig deeper than the surface level demographic information, like their age and where they live.
Lots of companies choose to survey their customers to get a better understanding of what they want and need. This helps you to avoid sweeping assumptions that aren’t based on anything concrete.
You can use a free tool like SurveyMonkey to get to know your customers better and send out a list of questions to your email list or share it on social media.
Creating a survey is really simple:
Remember, your audience don’t have tons of time to spend answering your questions, so try and keep it as short as possible. As a general rule, 10-15 questions is a good starting point, which will require your participants to give up around five minutes of their time.
If you’re puzzling over what questions to ask, take some inspiration from these suggestions:
When it comes to getting to know your customers, it’s easy to think you just need to know their age, sex, and location, but creating an event marketing plan that works requires digging much deeper than that.
Once you know exactly who you’re targeting (and the more focused you can get here, the better), you can use that to fuel your messaging and create content that directly taps into those people’s needs.
Event Marketing Tools to Help Create Customer Profiles:
You will need a lot of collateral for your event marketing.
This includes everything from blog content to flyers and posters, and you will need to start planning this well in advance if you want to avoid burnout when your event actually launches.
The exact type of collateral you need will depend entirely on what kind of event you’re running and who you’re targeting. For example, a fundraising event won’t need a printed agenda and handbook like a conference might.
Let’s run through the different types of collateral you might need.
This is the most obvious (and most cumbersome) collateral you need. It covers everything from the copy about your event to blog posts, social media content, press releases, and everything in between.
It’s easier to break it up into three distinct stages:
Pre-event content is likely to consist of promotional blog posts that answer objections about attending your event, social media content, press releases, and email campaigns.
Social media content can be created and scheduled via CoSchedule so that updates automatically go out as and when they need to (we’ll talk more about setting up your marketing plan calendar in a moment).
You’ll want to direct potential attendees to a designated website or landing page for your event where they can get all the information they need in one place.
You don’t need to create an entire website from scratch. Instead, you simply need one page that lists out key event information, like the date, time, schedule, backstory, and testimonials.
There are three different ways you can create an event landing page:
As well as your own, dedicated landing page, you can also use tools like Facebook and EventBrite to create event pages. These are searchable by users, which means they help get your event seen by people outside of your following.
With more than 2.5 billion worldwide users, Facebook provides a great platform for sharing your event. Not only will it be searchable via the Facebook search bar, but you can gauge the interest of your audience and answer any common questions that pop up.
Here’s how to set up your event:
Similarly to Facebook, events created on EventBrite are searchable through the search bar function. The great thing about EventBrite is you can sell tickets through the platform too. This means you don’t have to divert people somewhere else to get their tickets which ultimately creates a seamless customer experience.
Next, you’ll need all the graphics and promotional material for your event.
This includes collateral like social media graphics to share with your social updates, blog post images, an event logo if you don’t already have one, graphics that feature your speakers, a printed agenda, and anything else you think your attendees might benefit from in the lead up to your event.
Again, it’s worth thinking about your graphics and promotional material in terms of before, during, and after the event.
For example, before your event you might decide you need social media graphics, an event logo, and a couple of ad graphics for Facebook.
During the event, you might need a printed agenda, signs that direct attendees to the right place, and boards that promote your sponsors and speakers.
Afterwards, you might need case study graphics and social media graphics to feature testimonials on.
Nothing works quite like social proof to push prospects that are on the fence over the edge. This can refer to collateral like testimonials, social media posts about past events, or famous speakers you’ve got in the line up.
As well as your designated website or landing page, you’ll also need a registration page where attendees can actually sign up and get their ticket. You can run this through a site like EventBrite, or create your own, independent page.
Event Marketing Tools to Help You Create Collateral:
Now you’ve got an idea of the collateral you need and the people you’re targeting with the collateral, it’s time to put it all together.
The easiest way to do this is to get it all down on a marketing calendar. This allows you to plan out event dates and visualize the key deadlines you need to meet for each task and project.
Let’s break this down into steps.
You’ll now have a clear and visual countdown to your event with tasks that have been broken down into easily manageable chunks.
Adding everything to a calendar like this allows you to see all tasks at a quick glance. You’ll be able to see what projects are coming up, and which ones can be put on the backburner until closer to the time.
As a result, you won’t feel overwhelmed trying to get everything done at the last minute and, more importantly, you won’t forget any vital tasks.
With CoSchedule’s marketing calendar, you can also see the progress of each task with a handy percentage count. This helps determine where you need to focus your efforts and gives you an indication of when tasks will be completed.
While your calendar provides you with a top-level overview of everything you need to do before your event, you can also use CoShedule’s Marketing Campaigns feature to organize each element of your event marketing.
This can be incredibly useful if you’ve got multiple different tasks and promotions that need to happen in tandem. You can color code your event marketing projects and open up min-portals for each task that includes a place for discussion.
Let’s take a look at a sample event marketing plan to see all of this in action.
The Enchanted Email Conference – a conference about email marketing for florists (let’s go super niche with this one!)
3 months before the event:
2 months before the event:
1 month before the event:
1 week before the event:
Each of these elements should be entered into the event marketing plan calendar during their respective months. As well as inputting the end product (e.g. “one blog post on the benefits of email marketing for florists”), the calendar should also include the draft deadline and who’s responsible for the task.
At the beginning of this guide, we mentioned the big dream all event planners have: a buzzing venue filled with their target attendees who all end up having an absolute blast.
This doesn’t have to be a pipedream.
In fact, it’s well within your reach if you plan ahead and create a successful event marketing plan template. Start by honing in on who you want to get at your event, and then determine what collateral you’ll need to convince people to buy a ticket.
To make the process a whole lot easier, use a tool like CoSchedule to plan out every little step in your event marketing plan.
Then, sit back and wait for the ticket sales to roll in.
Plan content and automate publishing to save tons of time now.
Start your 14-day trial to get organized with CoSchedule today.