How to write a marketing plan for an event

hotelschool | 22 March 2011

A marketing plan is the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your marketing campaign for hosting an event. It provides direction, and a step-by-step guide of everything involved in the planning and co-ordination of an event. The structure of your marketing plan will depend largely on the type of event, but the following are some components you’d typically include in your marketing plan.

Mission Statement or Executive Summary

The mission statement is a brief overview of the main points of the marketing plan – a summary of what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and what you’re hoping to achieve. Whether you refer to is as the mission statement or executive summary, it should describe the nature of the event, the people who will take part, and the desired outcome. The mission statement is aspirational, but should be achievable, and serve as the  basis for the rest of the marketing plan.

Target Market

Next up, you need to identify and define your target market – who you will reach out to, and the people who might attend your event. “Everyone” is unrealistic – you need to know who and where to devote your attention and resources, and how best to reach these people. You could define your target market by demographics (i.e. age, gender, employment, location) or interests (i.e. sports, culture, hobbies). Either way, your promotional activities will be wasted if you target the wrong people, and get no responses.

The Event

Once you’ve defined your target market, you’ll also need to pinpoint what it is that this market wants or expects from an event such as the one you’re hosting. Have they attended this type of event before, or a previous event you’ve hosted? Describe the event and what it would involve in terms of activities, services, value, pricing, and promotion.

Your event might be an exhibition, a show, a fundraiser, a workshop, or a dinner. Either way, you need to identify what is most going to attract or encourage people to attend the event. Make sure you describe in realistic detail what the target market can expect from the event, and what makes it unique, whether that be the location, the size of the event, the food, or the entertainment. Make a list of the event’s ‘selling points’.

Objectives

Here you need to outline what you hope to achieve through the marketing and hosting of your event, and how you’re going to accomplish these objectives. Objectives should be SMART, i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific. They’re what you’ll refer back to at the end of your event to see if it was successful.

Marketing and Promotion Strategy

This is the most important section of your marketing plan, and should discuss how you’re going to use the four Ps of marketing – product, price, place, and promotion – to achieve your objectives. You need to think about who your target audience is and the different ways of reaching out to them.

Will you send out press releases through local newspapers, magazine, radio, or TV? Will you promote the event on the internet, through competitions, email, or direct mail? Will you advertise in magazines, brochures, or newspapers, on the internet or radio, or at other events? Will you invest in signs, banners, brochures, flyers, leaflets, or posters?

Will you sell tickets door-to-door, through networking, or online? Will you be selling tickets – for how much? Pricing is an important factor in deciding how you’ll market your event. You’ll have to consider whether you have the budget and resources to to promote it effectively.

Within your marketing strategy, you might want to identify any threats to your success, such as competition. Is there someone hosting a similar event around the same time? What are they charging? Can you better their service in terms of giving the target market what they want?

Action plan and Evaluation

In order to take your plan and make it a reality, you’ll have to set realistic and measurable goals, by which you can monitor your progress. It also helps to assign responsibilities to keep track of activities and budgets. The action plan should set out what will be done, by when, and by who.

This section of your plan should also detail how you’re going to track your marketing activities and evaluate your overall success. You’ll need to evaluate whether you achieved your objectives, and whether your marketing was successful.

Summary

To end off your marketing plan, consider all the potential problems that may crop up during the planning and hosting of your event (such as inadequate parking or toilet facilities), and how you’d cope with each. Summarise your key points from the plan, making sure you’ve thought of everything – and you won’t go wrong!

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