Career veterans know that , it’s always best to follow a winning formula like this simple, 10-step plan to successfully market an event venue:
Write your venue’s strategic business goals and objectives.
Craft a venue marketing plan and budget.
Review your digital profile & SEO.
Secure your social media presence.
Review your physical space and venue operations.
Curate your client relations practices.
Work with professional planners in your area.
Value vendor relations.
Craft professional-level business development practices.
Create a robust resource library for your team.
If you’d like to dive deeper, we recommend you download our free guide, How to Market an Event Venue which will walk you through each of these steps with comprehensive examples, templates, diagrams and an enormous amount of creative ideas and tools to complete this goal.
As we all know, you could have the best venue in the world, but if no one knows about it, you will have a hard time filling your calendar. Depending on your market, the competition between event venues can be fierce. You need to find what differentiates you from your competitors and get your message in front of those who would be interested in your venue. You need to know the absolute 10 best ways to market an event venue. A lot of successful marketing comes down to a few things:
- Rigorous pursuit of new potential clients,
- Following solid systems and programs that work and
- Making master checklists for yourself and your team so that details are executed perfectly every time by every staff member.
Our ten-step list covers several aspects of how you can better market your venue. You may already be doing many of these, but you can always learn new ways to improve your business.
Here’s a taste of what it takes to market an event venue with ease:
You need to know where you want to go if you want any hope of getting there. Take the time to understand SMART goals and how to use them. An established method for constructing achievable and measurable goals, it can help you aim your efforts in the right direction to market the venue.
Take a hard look at your venue and document your values and mission statement. On the surface, values and mission may sound like corporate nonsense, but writing them is a valuable exercise that helps to focus your attention on what you are doing, who you should sell to, and how to present your venue.
Your goals, as well as the marketing plan you construct to achieve them, should stem directly from your values and mission.
- #1 – Buyers
- #2 – Revenue
- #3 – Plan
- #4 – Budget
- #5 – Goals
Buyers. Before you start writing the marketing plan, think about who you intend on receiving the message. Construct buyer personas (or customer avatars) for all of your known potential customer groups.
Revenue. Next, determine how much revenue you expect to make from each buyer category or type.
Plan. Start to assemble a marketing plan that helps you reach your buyers at the right times to build the revenue you need for the venue.
Budget. Calculate your budget and how much you want to spend per buyer persona and client to reach your revenue goals. Take a look at your marketing plan again to make sure you can achieve those goals and evaluate it against your personas and budget.
Goals. If you have to get your plan and budget approved, documenting everything and showing your work will go a long way in gaining approval for the venue marketing plan. Tying the marketing plan and budget back to the venue’s mission, vision and SMART goals (the ones you documented in Part 1)
You can learn more about each of these steps in our free eBook about How to Market an Event Venue.
No matter how a potential client finds out about your venue, chances are they will check out your website before contacting you. What you do or don’t have on your site will determine if they make an effort to get in touch with your event venue.
Take a hard look at your website and do an extensive assessment. Does it look professional? Can visitors find the information they are seeking? Are you sharing testimonials from satisfied customers? Look at all of your buyer personas and make sure each has a path and goal when visiting the website.
Examine your entire digital footprint from social media to search and review sites such as Yelp, Google, Bing, etc. Even if you aren’t planning on using them, establish your business accounts on the top sites and social platforms. Claim important business directory listings and explore niche directories, such as Snappening and others.
Document search engine results for all of the top keyword searches that pertain to your venue and develop action items regarding where you would like to improve your ranking.
Examine how social media relates to your venue and which channels will offer you the best return for your time investment. It’s nice to have accounts with all of the major social media outlets but if your team’s time is limited, focus your attention on the one or two that will pay the most dividends. You can see our ranking of the nine (9) most important social media sites for venues in our free eBook about How to Market an Event Venue.
Review your social footprint. Even if your venue isn’t on a particular social media channel, that doesn’t mean other vendors or clients aren’t talking about your venue, tagging or reviewing it.
If you get actively involved in multiple social media channels, explore ways to automate and manage your feeds. A lot of time and effort can be saved by using advanced social media techniques and third-party tools.
If someone has booked a site visit, it means you’ve done a great job of showcasing your venue’s potential. Anyone who visits your venue has a vision in their head based on what they’ve seen online. You want to keep that vision intact when they come to your venue.
Customize your venue tour and prepare materials specific for each type of potential client when they make a site visit. Know the answers to the most common questions asked by potential customers. Review pricing with them and avoid surprises. Being straightforward will result in happier customers.
Wow your clients and their guests. First impressions count for a lot, so everything has to be up to the highest standard. Not just the venue itself, but also the food, staff, bathrooms, public areas, etc. If you have any control over it, it is your responsibility.
Be sure to highlight what makes you unique. It helps to differentiate you from your competitors and helps you stick in the minds of you clients and guests.
Your clients are the heart of your business, and that relationship begins before they even contact you and can last well after their first event. Do your best to help them along the buyer journey from prospect to satisfied customer.
Your website is the first customer service interaction many of your clients will have with your venue. Are you providing them with the information they want and is it easy for them to contact you? When they do contact you, it is imperative to respond quickly. You’re probably not the only venue they’ve contacted. How quickly you respond and how you respond can give you the edge and help set you apart. This is one of the most important aspects of marketing the event venue.
After they’ve booked an event, be sure to follow up and communicate with them regularly. Consider giving customers a thank you gift for booking with your venue.
After the event is over, ask for feedback from your clients with a short survey or questionnaire. Use that to make improvements to your venue and process. Check in with past clients at least once a year. Occupying a space in their mind can lead to future referrals.
Professional planners have the potential to be a steady source of referral income for any venue. Research the planners in your area and cultivate relationships with those that fit with your venue’s style, budget and client profile. Create welcome packets and distribute them to your list of planners.
Consider hosting an industry networking event and use it as a showcase to introduce your venue to professional planners and other marquee vendors in your area. Some great examples of industry night ideas are available in our free Venue Marketing eBook.
Communicate openly and build mutually beneficial relationships. Find ways to incentivize planners for referrals to your venue.
Look at large companies, trade groups, chambers of commerce, and your local convention and visitors’ bureau as well. All of them regularly put on events, and many entities have dedicated planners on staff or contract.
The vendors you recommend to your clients are a direct reflection on your venue. Take the time to research the best vendors. Keep your vendor list and price details current and update the information regularly.
Consider adding multiple vendors per category to your go-to vendor list so you can offer choices for different budget options, and so you have redundancy if one of them is booked on a particular weekend. It’s a great idea to get to know the vendors your vendors recommend too.
Openly discuss your expectations and deadlines with your vendors and be sure to get everything in writing.
Showcase your preferred vendors at your venue by prominently displaying their materials. For more tips on how to build strong vendor relationships and how to feature their abilities to your clients, download our free eBook about How to Market an Event Venue.
Build a team with the experience and skills to properly service your customer base. Make sure the diversity of your team matches that of your clientele.
Organize your business processes so all of your employees are on the same page. Provide your team with the digital tools they need to do their jobs well. Provide the team with shared access to digital assets and other tools.
Network like a boss. Seek out the associations that are relevant to your type of venue and become an active member. Find out where potential clients and vendors go for networking and join them. There is no substitute for face time.
You can find many professional groups on social media. They can be a great place to get advice and learn from others’ experience. Decide on the best online groups and focus your attention there.
Never stop learning. The world is constantly in flux. There are always new tools and techniques, and it is vital to the health of your business to stay up to date. It isn’t wise to jump on every new trend without considering the impact, but it is important to know what those trends are.
Whether it is print, digital or both—create a resource library of articles, blog posts and other documents. Not only is it perfect for when you want a refresher, but it is also an efficient way of getting new hires up to speed on how you approach running and marketing your venue. A list of our most cherished marketing resources for event venues is available for the taking in our free eBook, How to Market an Event Venue.
This blog post covered a lot of topics, but it only touched on the subjects briefly. Our free eBook explores all of these topics in much greater detail. No one said it would be easy, but with the right information and the right approach you can improve how you market your venue and increase your sales and revenue.
If you’ve found this helpful, learned something new or know someone who could benefit from these tips, we encourage you to share it through social media.
MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC:
What makes some venues wildly successful while others flop? // PHOTO CREDIT: Natalie Toombs via Unsplash Starting an event venue can be a great business opportunity, but it requires a ton of preparation and collaboration with your local event and...
You’ve been tasked with creating a venue marketing plan, but honestly, you’re more focused on all the holes on your calendar that you need to fill with weddings, social or corporate events. You’re ready to get out there and sell so you quickly throw...
If you’re like most of the venue managers we know, about this time each year you’re reflecting on how the year has gone. You’re exhausted because you’ve just come off an aggressive fall season, and you no sooner wrapped weddings, and had to turn your...