Forward-thinking marketers are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to reach their target audience. Given that the event planning industry has evolved into a multi-billion dollar market, it’s no wonder why events are now an incredibly popular marketing channel. 

But successful event marketing isn’t always simple or easy. It’s detailed and complicated, and a lot can go wrong. The good news? That’s what an event marketing plan is all about. By mapping out everything in advance, you can better strategize event promotion and start your marketing efforts on the right foot. 

To make sure you hit the ground running, this guide will introduce a 7-step event marketing plan. From goals and objectives to event marketing strategies and more, we’ll guide you through everything event planners should know before kicking off their next marketing campaign.

What is an event marketing plan?

Blurred image of people attending event

Event marketing is a big part of planning a successful event. After all, how can you expect anyone to register for your event if nobody knows it exists?

That said, event promotion isn’t simply about sending out emails or posting on social media. Its priority is encouraging potential attendees to show up on the big day and optimizing the event experience once they’ve arrived. In other words, event planners need to carefully and strategically nurture event attendees as they go from discovery to interest to registration.

Here’s the problem: Most event planners tend to slap together marketing tactics at random. By doing this, they’re not strategically promoting the event, which means their marketing effort isn’t resonating with the target audience like it should be. This is exactly why event marketing plans are so important.

An event marketing plan is the glue that holds every marketing activity together in a single framework. It’s a carefully crafted outline of every marketing channel you’ll use, why you’ll use it, and how it will contribute to event success.

At the very least, an event marketing plan organizes your marketing campaign and points you in the right direction.

The 5 P’s of event marketing

It’s vital to lay the groundwork before planning an event marketing campaign. To do that, consider the five P’s of event marketing:

  1. Product: What is unique about this event? Why does it stand out amongst the rest?
  2. Price: What is the value of the event? What value can it bring to event attendees and sponsors?
  3. Place: Where will this event take place? Will it be an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event?
  4. Promotion: What message will this event communicate to your target audience? What do you want the event to say about your brand?
  5. People: Who exactly is your target audience? Who do you want to engage with and attract?

Answering these questions will set the foundation for your event marketing plan and help you make important promotional decisions moving forward.

Essential elements of an event marketing plan

Event marketing plans come in all shapes and sizes. They often differ between organizations. However, there are seven essential components that every marketing plan should include:

1. Event goals and objectives

Deciding on an event goal is one of the first—and most important—decisions in the event planning process. An event goal not only establishes what you want to achieve but also what a successful event would look like. 

Start by considering your business goals. Do you want to generate brand awareness? Or are you more interested in maximizing ticket sales? From here, you can narrow your focus to how your event promotion can help you achieve those objectives. 

For example, let’s say your business wants to increase brand awareness. You can specify your promotional goals by saying you want to generate 100 pre-event leads via targeted email campaigns. In turn, you can measure the effectiveness of your email marketing based on the number of leads it produces.

Pro tip: Don’t limit yourself to attendee and registration numbers. Consider other metrics that measure the lasting effects of your event on revenue, pipeline, and community. Here are 41 event metrics to get you started.

2. Event marketing budget

Before you decide which event marketing strategies you’ll use, you need to determine your marketing budget. If you’ve already created an event budget, it’s likely funds are already set aside for your marketing effort.

If not, review past events to get a sense of what your budget should look like. But even if you do have historical data to lean on, be sure to consider all potential marketing costs, including:

  • Advertising media
  • Agency fees
  • Production costs
  • Content development
  • Signage
  • Merchandise
  • Ambassador fees
  • Complimentary tickets
  • Giveaway costs

Allocate an extra 5-10% to your budget just to be safe in case you encountered unexpected situations where your marketing campaign requires additional spend—for instance if a digital ad is performing better than anticipated. 

3. Event marketing strategy

Before initiating any marketing tactics, first, you need an overall marketing strategy to guide your campaign. This strategy—or combination of strategies— will define how you aim to achieve your event goal. More importantly, it details the messaging and defines the tactics you’ll use to reach potential attendees with precision.

To do this, you need to know your target audience. Conduct market research and craft customer personas to help you understand what an attendee might want from the event experience. Consider the following questions:

  • Where does your target audience hang out? This can help you focus your attention on those channels.
  • What content do they like to consume? Leverage this type of content in your promotions.
  • What are their pain points? Tailor your messaging around how your event can help solve their problems and achieve their goals.

The more specific your research, the better you can optimize and execute your marketing strategy. 

4. Attendee journey

Marketing is all about hitting your target audience with the right messaging at various stages of the event life cycle. Using the conducted research, map out every way an attendee could interact with your company from beginning to end. 

The event life cycle begins with promotions and ends with post-event communication. In between, there are countless touchpoints where potential attendees could experience your brand. Start with where an attendee might first learn about your event, such as a blog or social media post. Then, trace every step of their journey during and after the event.

This allows you to personalize their event experience and better target your messaging to their wants, needs, and desires. According to McKinsey, personalization has a powerful impact. In fact, it’s known to drive a 10-15% lift in revenue. More importantly, it’s what over 70% of consumers have come to expect from the brands they engage with.

5. Strategic marketing tactics

With your marketing strategy in mind, it’s time to define your tactics—the actual activities that promote your brand and execute your campaign. Below are some proven marketing tactics to help inspire your creativity:

Social media marketing

Business people watching a live streaming. Social media concept.

There are over 4.62 billion active social media users worldwide—equal to more than half the world’s population. With so many potential attendees gathered in one marketing channel, social media marketing is perhaps the most beneficial tactic at your disposal.

Consider which social media sites your target audience uses. Post engaging content on these platforms that will elicit a response, such as questions, discussions, or educational videos. Use these channels as an opportunity to spread the word about your upcoming event (and be sure to include a link to where people can register).

You can also leverage paid advertising on social media to get your content front and center where your audience will surely see it.

Email marketing

Almost all digital citizens use email, which is why email marketing is such an effective tactic. Use email marketing before, during, and after the event to attract prospects, send out reminders, generate excitement, and build a community.

Avoid spamming your audience with too many emails. Keep track of where your contacts land so that you’re not sending irrelevant messages to people who’ve already registered.

Content marketing

Blogging about your event at every stage of the process is a great way to get people excited and share memorable moments. 

  • Pre-event: Write educational posts on topics your target audience would be interested in learning about. Share speaker profiles, event details, and tips and tricks to generate buzz.
  • Mid-event: Blog about in-person happenings and share them on social media or email for maximum exposure.
  • Post-event: Recap the festivities with event highlights, photos, and memories that will encourage event attendees to stay connected for any future events.

6. Marketing timeline

Now that your attendee journey is mapped and your tactics are planned, create a start-to-finish timeline. This is meant to be a high-level overview of your marketing efforts that lead up to and follow your event.

Creating a schedule can help you keep track of exactly which marketing activity should take place at a certain time. Keeping to this schedule allows you to hit every touch point at the most opportune moment.

It’s best to start planning at least 6-9 months before an in-person or hybrid event and 3-6 months prior to a virtual event. Give yourself enough time to research and create a sound marketing strategy.

7. Post-event outreach

Defining potential actions to continuously engage leads and promote your business once the event is over is an important part of the planning process. Even after the event, there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with your target audience and foster a fanbase of loyal attendees.

One great idea is to re-engage attendees by repurposing event content. If you had especially successful panel discussions, performances, highlights, or other moments worth mentioning, be sure to share them with your audience in the weeks and months after the event. This not only reminds people of the great time they had but also gives other attendees a chance to experience parts of the event they may have missed out on at the time.

Choosing the right tools to power your marketing plan

From registration to post-event analysis, the best event marketing plans leverage technology to streamline and simplify the process. With the right tools at your fingertips, you can save time and resources gathering data, measuring performance, and organizing your marketing campaign.

An end-to-end event management platform like Webex Events offers a comprehensive solution for planning immersive and engaging in-person, virtual, or hybrid events. With access to robust attendee data from a single user-friendly dashboard, you can track goals and provide proof of ROI to your sponsors and stakeholders with ease.

Ready to see Webex Events in action? Request a personalized demo today.