Event marketing involves strategy, and the ultimate way to implement any strategy is by coming up with a plan that will keep you organized, focused, and heading towards success. But creating an event marketing plan doesn’t have to be difficult! Let me walk you through the steps…
Apparently I’ve got event marketing on the brain lately; I recently shared a post titled The Best Free Ways to Market Events. Marketing in general can be overwhelming, but if you break it down to manageable pieces it all of a sudden feels a lot more achievable. Keep reading for my step by step instructions on how to create an event marketing plan and stick to it.
Step 1: Brainstorm
Starting with this step is very important. I find personally that I often need to set aside time to “think” about certain problems, concepts, or plans. A problem can come back to haunt me day after day, but I usually won’t come up with a solution until I dedicate a little brainpower to it. Creating an event marketing plan is no different!
Sit down and think about your event. Brainstorm however you do so best – whether with pen and paper, your laptop, an app, or even with your planning group. Talk about your event and what types of audiences you are trying to reach. This might lead to certain advertising methods making more sense for what you want to achieve.
For example, if you are planning an auction night for the 60+ crowd, considering newspaper ads might be a good option because this generation is pretty into print media still. If your event is an opening for a trendy bar, hoping to attract twentysomethings, social media is likely where you will want to put your focus.
That being said, just because your event fits into something similar to one of the above scenarios doesn’t mean you should rule out other methods of advertising. It just means that those places are where you need to put the bulk of your effort and budget.
Write down all the places that you think would be a good fit for marketing your event. This could include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, local newspapers, radio, TV, websites, online ads, online classifieds, community locations, sponsor companies, other stakeholders, and so much more. Head on over to my post about The Best Free Ways to Market Events for some tips on this.
Got a list together of all the places you want your event to be seen? Good. On to the next challenge!
Step 2: Organize
Now that you’ve got ideas for everywhere you want to advertise your event, pop it all into a spreadsheet. I like to track everything this way because it allows me to sort things by date, priority, person, or category, depending on what I’m trying to check up on. Sound intense? Don’t worry! I’m actually going to share an Excel template to get you started. Click the button below to get access to this FREE download!
Now that you’ve got my spreadsheet, start putting your list of places to market your event into the “Location/Task” column. I’ve set some conditional formatting for the “Type” column as well. Just type in any of the categories I’ve got listed into a new line and the format will update. I like this visual representation of how much advertising I am doing in any one type of media. Here’s how I’ll usually use each of the categories:
- Online Ad – Here I will usually log anything that is a specific ad on the internet, either free or paid. Kijiji ads, Facebook ads, and Google ads are examples of this.
- Poster – Physical places that I sent or distributed event posters to are tracked here. I’ll list each location on a different line to show where they are.
- Email Marketing – I use this to track when I’m planning on sending email communications to my own list, as well as when I am scheduled to have other email blasts go out. For example, maybe you want a sponsor to send your information out to their email list. Pop that on in here!
- Media Outlets – This can cover TV and radio stations, local newspapers, or coverage from bloggers. I’ll put all of that coverage, both paid and free, in this category.
- Social Media – I might not include every time I’m going to post on social media as a separate line tem, but I will show here that it is happening on an ongoing basis. I’ll also track here any other companies that agree to help me out by sharing on their social media channels.
Ultimately, you can use the “Type” categories however you want, change them up, or even get rid of that column. I just find that I like being able to see at a glance where I’m putting my effort.
With the exception of social media, I typically am quite detailed and break each single task onto a different line. This means that if I send information about an event to my email list 3 times, I’ll have each as a separate entry in the plan, with separate due dates.
Step 3: Strategize
Speaking of due dates, you can start to set those. Timelines might be different depending on what types of ads you want to run, what your event is, and when (slash if) tickets go on sale. When setting these deadlines, think about how far in advance you would want to see information about an event like yours. Make sure each deadline is reasonable and achievable. These can be edited anytime, but I find that having a due date helps keep me on track.
I sometimes like to use the “Priority” category when figuring out deadlines. Certain things probably need to happen before others, so pop a “1” into this column for any marketing opportunity that needs attention right away, “2” for things that should happen soon, but are less urgent, and so on. If you do this, you can sort by priority and it might help to set those due dates to know what order things should be done in.
When determining priority, also make sure to take into account which marketing locations are “must-haves” and which are “would be nice”. Obviously the “must-haves” need to be prioritized a bit more highly!
In this step, you should also think about what information and materials you need to have for each of the advertising avenues you have identified. Do you need graphics? Some focused text about your event? A press release? Log creation of each of these as tasks in the spreadsheet as well, and prioritize them highly since they likely need to be done before any of the actual marketing can happen!
Step 4: Assign
If you are planning with a partner or a group, this is the time to start to divvy up the work. Use the “Assigned” column to pop in the names of the people that will be responsible for looking into and coordinating each marketing opportunity or putting together the materials required.
The best way to do this is with a group meeting. Make sure that anyone that is taking on work is willing and able to do so. Often event planning can involve working with groups of volunteers, so it’s important to make sure they are organized and engaged.
Step 5: Action and Motivation
By this point you should have a plan in place, and now it’s just a matter of checking off each box. Track the due dates for each item and check in with the people assigned to each task as they come up. Be sure to update the sheet regularly as this is great to keep you organized, as well as to keep your group members accountable for the work they are responsible for.
Step 6: Reassess
Your event marketing plan is a constantly evolving document. New promotional opportunities may arise or be brought to your attention by group members. Don’t be afraid to change things up! Having a plan in place from the beginning will keep you organized but also allow you to see how well new opportunities might fit into your current strategy.
I hope you found this step by step guide to creating an event marketing plan helpful! If you didn’t download the template, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered – there is another opportunity to do so right here! Hit the button below to join my email list, which also gets you access to all sorts of other event planning tips, tricks, and information.
What are your most burning questions about creating an event marketing plan? Let me know in the comments!