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 something together so you can get back to business.
After all, a loose framework is good enough, right?
Maybe, but likely not.
A well-built marketing plan can actually make filling those empty dates on your venue’s event calendar much easier. The problem is many people rush through the process, or worse, miss crucial components that can help highlight the best areas for sales growth.
- Are you spending your marketing dollars in the right place?
- What if you could increase your revenue while spending the same or less than what you are spending now?
- What if you could spend your time more efficiently?
- What if you could better align those tactics to get more of the exact type of client you want with less effort?
In this post, we’ll share the five (5) things people commonly miss that you should address to build the best venue marketing plan possible for your space.
👉 This blog post is the second in a ten-part series about how to market an event venue. You can get an amazing (free) downloadable eBook with all these topics conveniently organized in one place here.
That’s a joke, but it has a basis in fact.
You’d be surprised at the number of venues we’ve worked with that operate without any venue marking plan.
(That’s right, we’re looking at you buddy.)
Taking the time to put together a marketing plan can help focus your efforts and improve the return you will see on marketing dollars spent. No matter how much money you have for your marketing budget, it will never be enough. You want to be as efficient as possible with each of those dollars and know you’re not tossing them into the wind.
Ben Franklin famously said that “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”
We couldn’t agree more. But, we know what you’re thinking. “It’s all in my head so why bother writing it down? I already know what’ I’m going to do this year.”
Because planning at least gives you a direction. If things go awry, you’ll have a better idea about how far off course you are. You’ll also have a record of what works and what doesn’t. Planning is an ongoing exercise that builds on experience and knowledge. It’s very valuable to have a nice list of outcomes and metrics to see where you might want to change course next year.
Like the venue business goals we mentioned in the previous post, if you write down where you are going you have a better chance of getting there.
How well do you really know your customers?
Thoroughly understanding who you are trying to attract makes it easier to communicate with them. Advertising is more effective when you can get the right message in front of the right people. You are more likely to hit a target if you know where you’re aiming your arrow and your venue marketing plan should account for this target practice.
Building buyer personas (sometimes called customer avatars) is an essential exercise in determining your audience. Look at your customer base and who you want to attract and begin by listing who your most likely buyers might be. Check out p.20 of our eBook for ideas on where to start and how to add the little details to your personas that will help you craft a better venue marketing plan.
Why should you care about buyer personas as a venue owner or manager?
Simple. Cost per event lead.
If you can reduce the amount of effort you need to generate each new interested potential client, then you can be more effect with each dollar spent.
This can be a difficult concept to grasp at first, but here’s an example about how Skytap, a B2B tech company, really focused on their message to resonate better with their clients and used buyer personas to nail the effort. Focusing on the right buyer helped Skytap increase their sales leads by over 100%.
Did you hear that?
Changing what message (and content) was being sent out more than doubled the amount of people interested in their business and brand.
By taking a more detailed look at all their potential customers, Skytap was able to better tailor their messages to those more likely to respond.
While the industry may be different, the principles are the same.
In short, buyer personas should not be overlooked in your venue marketing plan and are a great starting point.
We assume that you have a specific revenue goal for the year or at least some type of benchmark of what you need to make.
Using your buyer personas, you should be able to break that revenue goal down to determine where the meat of your revenue is coming. Once you know how your revenue is segmented, you can find the best opportunities for growth, which helps you to be more efficient with your marketing budget.
Does it make sense to grow your largest segment or could money be spent on one of your smaller segments to realize more substantial returns? Matching revenues to buyer personas will help you have this conversation and begin plotting your course of action.
If building your first revenue template seems overwhelming, we have a free one-page guide on pg. 33 of our eBook about How to Market an Event Venue.
Do you know all the media and promotional channels available to you? Or do you keep using the same outlets without exploring their results or efficiency for your venue?
“Marketing mix” is a term originally developed in the golden age of advertising in the 1960’s to talk about the four (4) P’s of marketing – price, product, placement and promotion. The concept of marketing and advertising was based on the foundation of these four adjustable components, and our work stems from this broad beginning.
Now the marketing mix can refer to all the tools, tactics or channels a business may use to achieve its marketing objectives. Everyone’s mix can change based on size, customer profile, budget and location.
Make sure you spend time taking a thorough inventory of what is available to you both locally and nationally for your venue marketing plan and what all might make up your marketing mix. If you’re having trouble building a comprehensive list of marketing tactics, ideas and categories, we offer an extensive list of ideas in our downloadable eBook about How to Market an Event Venue. Use it as a checklist or guide to evaluate the options available to you and supplement your current knowledge with this handy tool.
Knowing all the media channels available to you for your venue marketing plan makes it easier to pair what you know about your customers (and those buyer personas you built) with the best channels to get your message in front of them.
Coupling this with your planned revenue and a solid budget should help produce more of the results from the people you want to attract faster.
“If I had a way to pay for it, I wouldn’t need tips on how to do it better for my venue.”
We hear you.
But as we mentioned earlier, even if you have a budget it will never feel like enough.
Therefore, you need to think about each invested marketing dollar like a lemon you’re working to squeeze for all its worth. If each dollar yields more results faster, you’ll be able to increase revenues incremental and more efficiently producing more income for the venue which in turn will help you build a larger budget for your venue marketing plan.
We discuss calculating your event venue budget in our eBook and provide a sample master budget template you can use on page 35.
What if you don’t have a budget?
Ah, the old “no money to market” problem, eh?
If you don’t currently have a venue marketing budget, have a very small budget, or have to get approval for your budget, showing how the money will be allocated based on customer groups (buyer personas) and revenue goals will go a long way in helping you to get that budget approved or at the very least considered.
It’s a great exercise to determine what it would really cost you to effectively market your venue in your local community through a variety of channels. Building your venue marketing plan’s customer-aligned budget is an important step in getting there.
If you’ve ever sunk hours into a project only to have it shot down or dismissed, you know the frustration that’s possible when you try and do something new, different, big or costly in a vacuum and you don’t have the authority to do it alone.
At best you’ll have to spend more hours revising it, at worst you could be told to table it until next year.
Adjusting your venue marketing plan and budget-building process can make for a smoother process and easier budget approvals.
Pitch ideas early in the process to get feedback and reactions from those around you, particularly leadership. Gauging reactions to certain ideas will help you know what areas need the most work and the most persuasion moving forward.
Famous inspirational speaker Simon Sinek adds, “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
Given our process so far, a good way to inspire those around you might be:
- Agreement on buyer personas
- Agreement on effective marketing channels for your venue’s specific marketing mix
- Agreement on anticipated revenues and associated marketing budget
- Approval on tying it all together and implementing the plan
Continue to get feedback as you go. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our ideas, but when you make the leap from Point A to Point B to Point C you can end up in a different place from everyone else. Keep sharing your ideas to help other understand your thought process.
Be sure to involve your team. Any suggestions they have can be incorporated, and any questions or concerns they have can help you address gaps you might not have considered.
The more detailed your venue marketing plan and budget, the more effective it will be and the better chance you will have of getting it approved.
This doesn’t necessarily mean your presentation of the concepts needs to be long, drawn out or complicated, but it does need to be based in a lot of research, facts about past performance and real costs for your stellar marketing ideas.
Understanding your customers, how much revenue they each generate, and how you can get your message in front of them more effectively is paramount to your success. Use that key information to build a detailed venue marketing plan with feedback from your co-workers and bosses to create a plan and budget.
In the meantime, you can read all aspects of marketing your event venue by downloading our free eBook. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up to date with new posts. You can also create a free event venue profile on Snappening to help grow your venue.
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