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Event Marketing

How To Create an Event Marketing Plan

A2Z Team January 28, 2024
Table of Contents
10 min read

The world of event planning experiences success not just through having a great venue or a top-notch speaker line-up – it’s about getting the word out and drawing a crowd. An event marketing plan is integral for tying this all together into one magical experience. 

Throughout this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore in detail the fundamentals of crafting an effective event marketing strategy that maximizes attendance and engagement while also making sure that the content is a hit. 

 Whether you’re planning a conference, trade show, or expo, you can use this guide as a checklist for the roadmap toward your success. 

What Exactly is an Event Marketing Plan? 

Before diving into the nitty-gritty details, let’s start with the basics for an understanding of the overall picture. An event marketing plan is a strategic blueprint outlining how you’ll promote your event to attract attendees, sponsors, and media attention. 

As with any plan, your strategy should involve a range of tactics and channels designed to generate buzz, drive registrations, and ultimately ensure the success of your event. 

The planning phase should incorporate SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals from the outset. As the plan evolves, it’s important to regularly refine it based on feedback from both internal and external sources, as well as input from all stakeholders involved. 

What Goes into an Event Marketing Plan? 

Now that we understand the purpose of an event marketing plan let’s explore some of its key components: 

Event Goals and Objectives 

Setting clear and measurable goals is the foundation of any successful event marketing plan. 

Your goals need to have a defined structure and a way to be measured, as this will give you clear feedback on performance and further improvement. 

Whether it’s increasing registrations by a certain percentage or generating a specific revenue target, defining your objectives provides direction and focus for your marketing efforts. 

This is important in making sure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the end result at a pace everyone agrees with. 

Event Marketing Budget 

A comprehensive budget is a cornerstone of any effective event marketing plan. When allocating resources, it’s crucial to balance ambition with pragmatism, ensuring that every dollar is spent in a way that maximizes the impact of your marketing efforts.

Begin by itemizing all potential expenses, including digital advertising, print materials, social media promotions, and any other channels relevant to your strategy. This detailed breakdown not only helps in tracking expenditures but also in identifying areas where costs can be optimized.

It’s also essential to factor in the specific channels you plan to use for marketing. Different channels come with varying costs and effectiveness. For instance, digital marketing might be more cost-effective but requires expertise in targeting and analytics, while traditional media, though potentially more expensive, can have a broader reach.

Event Marketing Timeline 

Unlike selling a product or service, time is of the essence when it comes to event marketing. Create a detailed timeline that outlines all marketing activities leading up to the event, from pre-launch teasers to post-event follow-ups. 

A well-structured timeline ensures that marketing efforts are coordinated and aligned with key milestones. Deadlines must be kept tight and structured to make sure that all deliverables arrive on time so that everything is ready for the big day. 

The team, management, and all staff and partners in attendance should have no confusion as to what they are working towards and what role they are playing concerning the event. 

Identify Your Event’s Target Audience 

Understanding your target audience is critical for tailoring your marketing messages and selecting the most effective channels. 

Conduct market research to identify demographics, interests, and pain points that will resonate with your target attendees. You’ll use these to inform how you create your marketing campaigns.

It’s best to start with what you already have and focus on the main theme of the event. Chances are that your target audience already resonates with the event (which is why you selected it!) and it’s all about finding the right messaging to get them through the door. 

Create Your Event Branding 

Your event brand sets the tone for the entire attendee experience. Develop a compelling brand identity that reflects the unique value proposition of your event and resonates with your target audience. 

Consistency across all marketing materials, logos and color schemes helps establish brand recognition and credibility. 

A brand is more than just a color scheme, logo, and brand name. Your brand is something that sets you apart from your competitors

More than that, a brand is what your clients feel, think, and say about you without any representatives in the room. Focus on a genuine identity that resonates with your clients and, most importantly, with your team. 

Build a Compelling Event Website 

Every event will need digital real estate, regardless if the event is online, offline, or a combination of the two. 

Your event website serves as the central location and representation for all event information and registration. 

Design a user-friendly website that provides and promotes key event details, speaker bios, agenda highlights, and event registration forms

Develop a stunning landing page that provides clear instructions and a defined funnel for the customer journey. 

You’ll want to optimize the website for mobile devices to accommodate on-the-go attendees. Mobile accounts for half of the world’s internet traffic, so mobile-friendly isn’t a “nice-to-have” it’s a must! 

Promote Your Event Early and Often 

Events don’t start the day of the event; they start the moment the idea starts to gain traction within your company. 

Don’t wait until the last minute to start promoting your event. Launch a multi-channel marketing campaign well in advance to build momentum and generate buzz. 

Keep the excitement alive with regular updates, countdowns, offers, packages, deals, and outreach efforts. Encourage others to spread the word and share it on their socials. 

If you have collected an email list of registrants or prospects, update them often on what they would otherwise be missing out on if they don’t attend the event. 

Make sure to focus on solving pain points and creating FOMO opportunities rather than announcing the agenda and speakers repetitively. 

Leverage Your Event Speakers and Attendees 

Encourage speakers and attendees to become ambassadors for your event. Provide them with promotional materials and incentives to share their participation with their networks, amplifying your reach and credibility. 

Your speakers are a great way to begin promoting the experience. For example, if you are hosting a trade show and you are inviting well-known brands in a particular space, tag them in posts or encourage them to mention the event to reach both audiences.  

This symbiotic relationship is mutually beneficial and will help grow the channels of all parties involved. 

Engage Your Event Sponsors 

Event organizers are always on the lookout for event sponsorships and companies are eager to sponsor events they know will bring them brand awareness and new customers. It’s a win-win scenario. Sponsors receive credit and outreach to their target audience from the work that they put into a successful event, while you get some of your costs subsidized by your sponsors. 

This allows you to better allocate resources to ensure more engagement. 

Event sponsors have a massive interest in the event doing well but often aren’t used to its full potential. 

Ask your sponsors if they can provide branded merchandise, thought leadership, or even access to their audience through posts, email lists, giveaways, or competitions before the upcoming event. 

Remember that negotiating a contract with your sponsors is not always just about money but the support and tools that they can provide in grabbing more interest and attention from attendees or prospects. 

Post-Event Survey & Outreach 

The end of your event doesn’t mark the end of your marketing efforts. Gather feedback from attendees through post-event surveys to identify areas for improvement and gauge satisfaction levels. 

Maintain communication with attendees post-event to nurture relationships and promote future events. 

Surveys are important as they give you valuable insights into what the general sentiment of the attendees is thinking. 

Overall, they may have found that the panel was a great success, but the location was difficult to access, and more consideration should be given to parking or transportation options. 

Perhaps there was a lack of alternatives for food choices, the lighting was off, registration may have been difficult on the website, etc.  

Customers are more inclined to leave negative reviews than positive ones, so don’t be discouraged. Find a common theme and use it to improve your next event. 

Choose the Right Marketing Channels for Your Event: 

There are so many ways to market. Social media, blogging, DMing industry influencers, and even a daring display in the center of your city. 

Consider the strengths and limitations of each channel, both digital and offline, and allocate your resources as needed. 

Your channels should be intuitive and where your target audience is already hanging out. If your event is a car show, you should be where all the gearheads are, hitting shows locally and appealing to them globally. 

If your event focuses on an up-and-coming consumer electronics, make sure you are hitting social and digital marketing avenues regularly and allocating resources appropriately for these reach-outs. 

Here are some of the most effective ways you can spread the word: 

Content Marketing 

Content is king, especially recently. The content recession created by an influx of AI and Machine-Learning technologies has made it difficult to distinguish original writing. 

Content can’t be faked, especially if you are a thought leader in your space. Writing meaningful articles about niche topics or pain points in your industry will always have a strong impact on influencing brand identity. 

Content can be delivered in the form of blog posts, guides, vlogs, podcasts, Q&As, podcasts and much more. Give your team a platform that resolves an urgent issue, and the prospects, readers, and clients will keep coming back for more. 

Email Marketing 

As of Dec 2023, 77% of marketers have seen an increase in engagement from email marketing during the last 12 months. 

Email remains one of the most effective tools for event promotion. Craft personalized and compelling email campaigns to nurture leads, share important event updates, and encourage registrations. 

Make sure to follow up and create a proper sequence. Email marketing should have 3–5 touchpoints that deliver content, calls to action, and reminders – which will lead to increased engagement rates.  

So yes, people still open their emails! 

Event SEO 

Your event needs to have a dedicated webpage, landing page, or website in advance of your marketing efforts. Depending on the size, importance, and date of the event, the site may need to be launched months in advance to kickstart your digital marketing efforts and give time for search engines to index your event website.

The site needs to be optimized and up to date so that there are no questions about whether the event is still happening or not. The bonus of a great site is that attendees can easily purchase tickets, packages, and upsells all in the same place.  

Optimize your event website and content for search engines to improve visibility and attract organic traffic. Focus on relevant keywords, meta tags, and backlinking strategies to enhance your event’s online presence. 

Paid Digital Promotion 

Organic marketing efforts are sustainable and can be built over time, but they may not be enough if you are still getting the word out or starting a brand from scratch. 

Supplement organic efforts with paid advertising on platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and LinkedIn Ads. Target specific demographics and interests to maximize ROI and reach potential attendees. 

Create lookalike audiences from clients who have previously purchased from you, engaged with your ads, or taken any other favorable actions that drive your KPIs. 

Social Media Marketing 

Social media are great for creating buzz; your prospects don’t expect much effort. Posts should be simple and to the point as long as the other elements of your marketing strategy are working well. 

For example, sharing links to your website and talking about a specific theme of your event is a great way to generate interest and excitement in advance. Post regularly and often to keep the ball rolling. 

Engage with your audience on social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Share sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes content, and user-generated testimonials to enhance their excitement and drive engagement. 

How Will You Measure Your Event Marketing Success? 

Tracking and monitoring key performance indicators is necessary for evaluating the effectiveness of your event marketing plan. However, not all metrics provide valuable insight. Here are some important KPIs that are meaningful to track for the success of your marketing efforts: 

Registrations and Check-ins: Measure the number of registrations and actual attendance to gauge event turnout and engagement. 

Revenue and Cost-to-Revenue Ratio: Calculate event revenue and compare it to marketing expenses to assess ROI and profitability

Attendee Satisfaction: Get feedback from attendees through surveys to evaluate overall satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. Encourage feedback through giveaways, packages, discounts, and other incentives. 

Social Media Mentions/Engagement: Monitor social media channels and posts for mentions, likes, shares, and comments to understand audience engagement and sentiment. Evaluate the ones that performed well and the ones that were completely ignored. 

Lead Acquisition and Customer Conversion: Track the number of leads generated through event marketing efforts and assess conversion rates into paying customers or sponsors. 

Final Thoughts

Crafting a successful event marketing plan is a dynamic and multifaceted process that demands attention to detail, creativity, and strategic thinking. By setting clear, SMART objectives, understanding your target audience, leveraging the right marketing channels, and continuously evaluating and adjusting your strategy, you can significantly enhance the impact and reach of your event.

At A2Z Events, we know that every event is different, and our goal is to give you the tools and help you need to make your event great. With more than 25 years of experience, we’re the top company for managing trade shows and events in North America.

Sign up for a demo today and see how we can make your running your next event easier.