Marketing a venue successfully relies on a lot of different factors. That means creating an effective venue marketing plan isn’t straightforward because, in short, venues aren’t, and neither are their customers.
There are countless different types of venue and the way you’ll want to market yours depends completely on what it is and who it appeals to.
Events venues, leisure venues, sporting venues, concert halls, hospitality venues, hotels, restaurants, museums, conference centres galleries, outdoor spaces – all of them need their own unique, marketing approach.
As a digital marketing agency, we’ve provided venue marketing services to over 70 venues of all shapes and sizes since launch in 2010. We’re proud to say that we know our stuff when it comes to venue marketing and so here, we wanted to share some of our insights and offer up tips and tricks for preparing a winning venue marketing plan.
How to create a venue marketing plan (from scratch)
You may already have a venue marketing plan, and that’s great as it means you’re likely already familiar with a lot of what it goes into it. But to get you thinking, try starting with a blank piece of paper and answering the following questions:
- What type of venue do you offer and who are the people who are likely to use it?
- Why will your service be used by that market segment, instead of another?
- How will people find you when they’re looking for a venue like yours?
- How will they make decisions whether to use you or a competitor?
- When do you need new customers and how many?
- Can you see your customers and network fitting into your marketing plan? Is there potential for repeat usage, word of mouth, customer advocacy, social media interaction and reviews?
- Where do your customers spend their time within your industry? (By this we mean the websites they visit, the social media accounts they follow, the magazines they read. It is the network of media and information they use to form and shape their opinions and decisions.)
- Based on your marketing strategy, how do you position yourself to appeal to your target market?
Could you answer all of them? Taking the time to get the right answers to those questions gives you everything you need to know to build a truly effective venue marketing plan.
They’ll tell you:
- Who you’re targeting with your venue’s marketing message
- How and where you will be targeting them
- How you will need to position your brand to stand out and appeal
You’ll also have a good idea about:
- Where your customers and network fit into your marketing plan
- How to make the most of their endorsement and advocacy
- Their ability to amplify your message and to potentially recommend your brand
By analysing your customer journeys, enquiry-to-sale lead times and historic search engine query data, you can also develop a picture of when your market is looking for venues like yours. Using that analysis, you can plan your marketing activity at the optimum time to get the maximum impact.
Is a venue marketing plan different to a venue marketing strategy?
Yes. A venue marketing strategy is a more theoretical document about what the brand is, who it appeals to, how it appeals to them, what its objectives are and how it will achieve them. If you want to know more about venue marketing strategies take a look at our guide on how to write a venue marketing strategy.
A venue marketing plan is the actionable details of what is happening and when. It should include outlines, deadlines and any tasks that need to be completed. Some people choose to combine their marketing plan with their budget, making Excel a powerful tool for creating venue marketing plans (it’s our favourite!).
Creating a venue marketing plan template
Once you’ve defined your venue marketing plan you need to create a venue marketing plan template. This gives you somewhere visual to keep track of your plans and makes them easier to manage.
There’s no right or wrong way to create the template for your plan. Some prefer a visual approach and use graphics and charts; others prefer the written word and write their plans – you could even utilise Excel’s formulas and functions to help automate the process.
Whatever medium you choose, make sure it has space for all of the information you need, and that the data (such as deadlines or costs) is laid out in a way that you can apply formulas.
A Gantt chart is a really good format to follow, you can have your main objectives (e.g., launch Google PPC Ad for summer sales) and then the sub-activities the main activity is dependent upon (do keyword research, write copy, publish landing page, set web goals). You can also easily combine a budget with a Gannt chart.
Sometimes people go one further: as well as their budget, they include a performance report. Before you decide that’s not for you, it’s easier than you think! Simply add in space alongside your forecast, reach and impact data and record the ultimate performance of each piece of the plan.
Note: You may find including a performance report unnecessary if you have an analytics suite, however it still has the benefit of making your forecast data easy to compare against the actual results achieved. Overtime, doing this means you’ll become more accurate in your future forecasts.
Structuring a venue marketing plan
The way you structure the template for your venue marketing plan depends on two things: how you’ll be using it, and the information it needs to contain.
For example, if it’s a marketing plan for meeting rooms, you’ll need to create a plan that accommodates a typical meeting room marketing plan as well as the underlying activities related to that. This means it should have space to manage activities such as being listed on lots of directories, SEO to rank organically for target keywords, some paid search activity and perhaps some digital advertising.
If you’re developing a plan to market a concert venue, it’s going to be different to the meeting room marketing example above.
For one, a concert has a much larger number of attendees, is a public event and can sometimes be high-profile. One of the best marketing aims for any venue is to involve your customers in your plan. Concert venues (like other live event venues) have a huge opportunity here, every day they have hundreds, maybe thousands, of people in their venues and those people have hundreds, maybe thousands, of voices and social media accounts. More often than not, the concert will be promoting itself publicly (and the venue in the process). Concerts can even be newsworthy, which is another great channel for exposure.
Venue marketing plan example activity
Recently we were working on a marketing campaign for an events venue in London that wanted to be known as a venue suitable for fashion shows.
It started with the first fashion show they hosted. We distributed press releases to target press and wrote blogs about that event as well as posting about it from their social media accounts.
After the event we produced a case study and a landing page which was optimised to rank well for relevant search terms (i.e., ones that indicated the searcher was looking for a venue for a fashion event). The website optimisations, press coverage, and social media activity helped the venue’s SEO and improved their web ranks for organic search terms such as ‘fashion show venues in London’.
Part of the venue’s brand strategy was to position themselves as a venue capable of hosting fashion events. They soon hosted another fashion event and we repeated the process again. We’d began to establish the venue as suitable for fashion shows and had a growing reputation and web presence to support that.
This example shows that one activity such as “write a blog post” can have several sub-activities.
These might be things like:
- Define keywords and semantically related words
- Check for an optimum word count
- Design accompanying graphic
- Publish blog post on website
- Optimise published page
- Distribute publication organically or through paid channels.
It also shows that a well-structured venue marketing plan is key for managing everything that’s taking place.
If you’re interested in learning more about producing a new venue marketing plan or are looking for an experienced venue marketing team to deliver it, we’d love for you to say hello! Get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7952 1740