When it comes to driving more ticket sales or event bookings, there are a great many ways to go about doing so.
However, implementing venue marketing tactics without a proper strategy in place is like driving blind. You have an idea of where you’re going but you have no idea of how you’re going to get there, and it’s nearly impossible to tell whether or not you’re heading in the right direction.
A venue marketing strategy is more than a plan, it’s the GPS system that helps you arrive at a predetermined destination. It’s the tool you use to tell if you’re on the appropriate trajectory and to correct your course when you take an unexpected wrong turn.
Your venue marketing strategy is a vital component to the successful implementation of any venue marketing tactic and essential to the scaled growth of your business.
Have we reinforced the importance of a venue marketing strategy enough yet?
Good! Now follow along as we look at the step-by-step process to creating a powerful strategy of your own that will help lead you to success.
This guide has been designed as a long list of questions that you’ll need to answer while you formulate your strategy.
Each question will help you to put the pieces together and include an explanation of why each of your answers are important to your success.
Are you ready?
Let’s get started!
The following steps will take you through the process of developing a powerful venue marketing strategy for your business. Answering each question will allow you to clearly identify the working pieces of your strategy so you can assemble your unique product once you’ve finished.
Create a Strategy Document
Just so we’re all clear, your strategy must be created in a living, breathing document that evolves as your marketing provides new insights and your business grows. For now, be sure to input all of the information from your answers into a written document so that you can share it with your entire team. You’ll need everyone on the same page if you plan to implement a successful venue marketing strategy.
Now, onto the steps for creation!
#1 – Define Personas – Who You’re Marketing To
The first step to creating an effective venue marketing strategy is identifying the “WHO.” Your marketing needs to be highly targeted and speak to your ideal buyer, but do you really know who you’re selling to?
What Types of Events Will/Do You Host?
One of the first considerations you’ll have to make are the types of events you’ll want to host. If you’re a wedding venue, for example, you may already be clear on this, but what about music venues or theaters?
What types of bands or artists are you/do you want to be known for?
What types of plays or musicals will be put on in your theater?
For wedding and event venues, it’s important to understand what types of clients deliver the majority of your profits.
Do you earn the vast majority of your profits (not just revenues) from corporate events, weddings, or private parties? It’s likely that you’ll find one segment of your clientele that delivers the majority of your profits, so why wouldn’t you target them more specifically with your marketing?
If you’re looking to rebrand, what types of events will you be hosting?
The types of events or clients you’ll be hosting will help you to get clear on defining your buyer personas.
Who Will Attend Them?
The people you’ll be marketing to are the attendees of the events your venue puts on. As such, it’s vital that you clearly identify the types of people who attend these events or, more importantly, who you ideally want to be attending. Create buyer personas that you’ll use to guide the message of all your future marketing.
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal buyer/customer. You’ll need to include the defining details about them, such as
- Job Title
- Interests Challenges
Creating effective buyers personas can make or break your entire marketing strategy, so it’s important not to rush over this part. Your marketing success will depend largely on your ability to reach the audience you’re marketing to with your targeted marketing message, so make sure to get clear on who that is and what your ideal buyer truly looks like.
As this is such an important part of creating a venue marketing strategy, we highly recommend you read our guide on how to create buyer personas for your business. It will be very helpful, especially if this is your first time creating them.
#2 – Establish Clear Goals – What, How, and When
The following step is equally important — establishing clear goals for your marketing. We like to recommend the
SMART goal-setting framework, which stands for:
Let’s look at how you’ll craft your goals to possess all of these qualities:
What Do You Want to Achieve with Your Marketing?
The first step is outlining what you hope to achieve from your marketing. You may want to increase ticket sales or bookings. You may also want to boost food or drink sales during the event.
The important part of this step is not to ensure they meet the SMART criteria, but instead to create a list of what you want to accomplish. We’ll then use the following questions to help fit them into the SMART framework.
Are These Goals Specific Enough?
Where you may have listed “increase ticket sales” as one of your loose goals, now it’s time to make it more specific.
For example, you can make your goal of increasing ticket sales more specific by limiting it to online sales. By doing so you have a specific goal that you can begin to refine even further.
How Can You Take Action to Achieve This Goal?
It’s not time to decide exactly how you’ll achieve this goal, just to determine that you’ll be able to take action to achieve it. Make a quick list of actions you’ll be able to take to achieve this goal.
Using our goal of increasing ticket sales, you could create a quick list like this:
- Highly targeted Facebook ads
- Print ads in local publications that sends people to our website
- Google Adwords advertising
These aren’t necessarily the tactics you’ll be deploying to increase sales, but you can be confident that your goal is actionable if you have a list like this that will help you come closer to achieving it.
How Are These Goals Relevant to the Success of Your Venue?
Before you get much further, it’s important to ensure that your goals are relevant to the success of your venue. Your goal to increase online ticket sales may seem like its relevancy is obvious, but what if your customers were used to buying tickets at the door or box office?
Does your additional marketing spend still make sense if it takes away from your door sales generated by less expensive marketing tactics or word of mouth? Your online sales would need to come largely from a new and expanded audience, rather than spending money to secure sales that would have come anyway.
While it’s an unlikely scenario that online advertising would affect profits this way, our point is that it’s important to understand whether or not your goal makes sense when looking at the big picture.
How Will You Measure Your Success?
Your goals are getting pretty clear at this point. You’re not finished though. You still have to determine just how you’ll track the success of the actions you’ll be taking to achieve this goal.
For example, you’ll need an online sales (ecommerce platform) to help you track sales that come in via your website.
If you decided you were going to run a print ad in a local publication like you listed above, how would you be able to track which sales were generated by that ad?
It’s these factors that may steer you away from pursuing print ads altogether, as you may find it difficult to track the sales they generate and your return on your marketing investment.
Where the publication would make it difficult to track, online advertising on a platform like Facebook would allow you to track your results, optimize your marketing, and better understand what works and what doesn’t.
Defing Your KPIs
You’ll also need to define the KPIs you’ll use to track the performance of your marketing. Digital marketing KPIs are what you’ll use to measure the efficacy of every tactic you deploy and optimize them to improve your results/returns.
For example, you would use your costs-per-click to understand the efficacy of your paid ads, your cost-per-lead to understand whether or not you’re targeting the appropriate people, and your cost-per-conversion to understand the efficacy of your conversion funnel.
When Will You Accomplish Your Goals?
Now that you’ve been able to get much clearer about your goals, you’ve likely also gotten much clearer on which tactics you’ll be using to achieve your goals. Your last step to creating SMART goals is to establish a timeline.
For example, you’ll want to achieve your goal in 90 days or 6 months.
Sample Smart Goal
Let’s put it all together and look at a complete SMART goal example using what we’ve been working through to reach a finished product. Your SMART goal would look like this:
Increase online ticket sales by 35% in the next 120 days.
It’s as simple as that, but defining SMART goals is an important step to creating and effective venue marketing strategy.
#3 – Identify Your Existing Assets
Now that you have your personas created and you’ve outlined your goals, it’s time to audit your existing assets.
Is Your Website Conversion-Optimized?
If you’re one of the few businesses left in the world operating without a website, you may want to contact the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s safe to say you have a website, but is it optimized to convert your ideal buyers into paying customers?
Now that you have a clear picture of who you’re selling to, look at your site to see if the content on your pages is appealing to your target audience. Does your copy use a voice and language that resonates with your buyer personas?
Is your website built to drive traffic toward a sale, or is it a collection of random pages that contain an overwhelming assortment of information about your venue?
Your venue marketing strategy will revolve around your website, so it’s important that you work to optimize it so that it can operate as an effective sales tool rather than a sticking point in your online conversions.
The topic of creating a conversion-driven website is an important one, so we highly recommend you read this super helpful article: The Complete List of How to Generate Leads from Your Website.
It covers how to make the most out of every facet of your website, including:
Don’t miss it!
Which Social Media Channels Have Proven Most Effective?
It’s also safe to assume that you’ve used social media to promote your venue, but which platform has proven most effective? If you’ve had plenty of success on Facebook but have yet to see much return from your activities on Twitter, it’s a good sign that you’re target audience will respond better to paid advertising on Facebook as well.
Do You Own Any Paid Advertising Accounts?
You may have already tried online advertising on Facebook or with Google Adwords. Without a strategy in place, it’s safe to say that your ads were not as effective as they could have been. If you already have existing data from previous ad campaigns, you’ll be able to analyze that data to optimize your future advertising.
What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition?
What do you do differently (read: better) than your competition? This unique quality will likely become a big part of your marketing, especially when advertising online, so it’s important to define it as a part of your venue marketing strategy.
What unique quality(ies) does your venue possess that your competitors do not?
For example, do you offer online tickets with zero service charge or offer free parking in a busy metro area?
Identify the USP that your potential customers will find most valuable so you can use it as an effective marketing tool.
What Additions Do We Need to Make?
Now that you’ve reached this point in your venue marketing strategy, you may have realized that you’re missing some of the components you feel are necessary to building a well-rounded and effective marketing machine.
Make note of what components should be integrated and how they will support your ongoing marketing activities. Build them into your future plans and determine when to begin to test deployment of individual tactics.
#4 – Define Your Venue Marketing Tactics
Now that you’ve had a chance to create buyer personas, define goals, and identify your existing assets, let’s look at a few of the most effective tactics for venue marketing.
Paid Acquisition (Facebook)
Venue marketing is what we in the marketing world often refer to as “sexy.”
Now don’t get too excited, we just mean that venues make up an industry that can easily capture people’s attention because it’s interesting and engaging. Accounting is not “sexy,” but it’s a necessary service. As such, it needs to be marketed differently.
Why are we talking about all of this?
Well, because venues are a great fit for paid advertising on social media platforms like Facebook.
Let’s look at a few ways to make the most of your Facebook paid advertising.
Understand Your Targets
You could create the best ads, with the best offer, for the best product, but all that effort wouldn’t matter if those ads were being seen by the wrong people.
Invest the time into understanding who you’re marketing to, the language they speak, their likes and dislikes, and you’ll be able to continually optimize your advertising.
Remember when we said your buyer personas would come in handy for nearly every marketing activity you implemented going forward? This is the perfect example. You’ll use your buyer personas to craft all of your Facebook ads.
For more on Facebook targeting, check out this killer post on Facebook ad targeting strategies.
For more on online shopping behavior, don’t miss this one.
Create Retargeting Campaigns
While we’re on the subject of targeting, we have to talk about retargeting. If you’re not already actively retargeting, you should be. Retargeting is simply marketing to those who have already been to your website and therefore have a relationship with your brand (however fleeting it may be).
If you’ve piqued someone’s interest for an upcoming event with one of your ads, you’ll want to ride that wave and make the most of their interest by showing them another, more personalized ad.
Retargeting campaigns are likely the most effective paid advertising campaigns around, so your strategy should include ways to drive visitors to your site so that you can retarget them.
Content / Inbound Marketing
Depending on the type of venue you operate, inbound marketing may be a highly effective way to drive new traffic to your website and expose your brand to new potential customers.
Let’s look at an example:
Let’s say your venue hosts destination weddings and caters to the high-end wedding market.
Creating blog posts about the most romantic destinations to get married in the country could open visitors up to the idea of getting married in your area.
A subsequent blog post about the best places to get married in your area would show readers what types of venues are available and give them ideas about the types of weddings they could have at each.
A final blog post about the best locations for high-end weddings in your area would show them why getting married at your venue is the best choice for the type of wedding your ideal customers want to have.
What If We’re Not a Wedding Venue?
The wedding example above is just one way to use inbound marketing to drive new traffic and customers to your business.
An Austin, Texas music venue could create an ultimate guide to “Things to Do in Austin” that covers all sorts of exciting activities throughout the city. The point isn’t necessarily to hook them with the first blog post. The goal is to begin building a relationship with your visitors so that you can earn their trust and nurture them toward an eventual sale.
The same venue could have a guide to “Free Music in Austin Every Night of the Week,” which visitors download in exchange for their email address. Now the venue has a way to send these people more valuable content and updates about upcoming shows at their venue. You see how this works?
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
The intricacies of building an effective content marketing strategy are beyond the scope of this guide, but let’s look at the key points of what makes content marketing so effective.
For a super helpful article on how to develop a powerful blog strategy, check out this recent post.
Let’s look more closely at the 3 most important things to remember when creating content.
#1 – How Can We Use Our Overall Venue Marketing Strategy to Enhance Our Content Strategy?
Sounds familiar right? Any good venue marketing tactic starts with a solid strategy behind it. Use your buyer personas to help you define who you’re creating your content for. Writing blog posts for everyone won’t get your very far. Instead, write to your specific audience!
This will allow you to create more valuable content.
From there, start thinking about…
#2 – How Can We Provide Outstanding Upfront Value?
Google is only going to rank your content if it finds it to be more valuable than that of your competition. This means your article needs to be AMAZING!.
How do you create amazing content?
A. Create a comprehensive resource that answers every part of the question/solves every part of the problem you’re aiming to answer/solve.
B. Make it 10 times as better than your competition. This may mean writing several thousand words about your topic. Google LIKES that.
C. Learn keyword/topic research. (More on that in a minute.)
Ranking on Google is not quite that simple. For more on how to create top-quality content that ranks on Google, check this out.
#3 – How Do We Use Keyword Research to Improve Our Results?
Even if you create highly engaging, relevant content, how do you know if you’ll be able to outrank the competition?
How do you determine if people are actually searching for your target keyword(s)?
Let’s take one step back. Have you even determined (a) target keyword(s)?
Everything you create needs to be formed around providing value around a specific search query (the things people are typing into Google).
To research keywords and topics that you want to target:
A. Purchase a research tool like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Moz. These tools will give you a serious advantage over your competition. They help you to determine which topics/keywords are worth creating content around, plus what it may take to outrank your competition.
B. Identify your closest competitors and analyze the keywords they rank highly for. Make a list of competitive venues and their top keywords to provide ideas for keywords you’ll want to create content for.
C. Write for high-volume/low-competition keywords. You’ll be best served to pursue long-tail keywords with a search volume that makes your resource allocation worthwhile for your venue.
#4 – How Can We Create Content Around OUR Buyer’s Journey?
Understanding your buyer’s journey will be an important component of your venue marketing strategy. There are 3 main stages that you’ll need to create content around. Developing a full understanding of the topic is, once again, beyond the scope of this post.
To learn everything you’ll need to know, check out our guide to understanding The Buyer’s Journey.
#5 – How Can We Most Effectively Promote Our Content?
Once you create your content, it’s time to publish and promote it.
Promote your content by:
- Sharing it on social media.
- Sending it to your email list.
- Using paid ads on Facebook (especially if it’s really good).
- Contacting Industry Experts to share on their blogs.
Content amplification is a massive topic. In fact, we recently an downloadable guide on the topic. You can find it here.
Venue marketing doesn’t have to be confusing or difficult. With a sophisticated venue marketing strategy in place you can accurately plan for growth and scale your business year after year by identifying predictable outcomes and optimizing based on your results.
As you can see, venue marketing without a strategy makes it less effective and more difficult to track. This all adds up to a more work, lower return on investment, and trouble delivering repeatable success.
Start building your venue marketing strategy today and you’ll likely find your marketing activities delivering better results with less time and energy expenditure.