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How to Create a High-Impact Event Marketing Plan

Marketing11 mins
Brendan Connaughton|Updated Aug 31, 2023
salesperson creating his marketing plan

You've spent hours planning an awesome event. You even wangled two guest speakers who are almost impossible to book, and you’re offering undeniable value to even the most critical attendee. It’s the kind of invite where you kick your feet up on your desk and allow yourself a smug grin as you prepare to launch.

But then something happens.

As the big day approaches, your confidence begins to wane, like the air being gently released from a balloon.

Projected attendance looks lower than expected, and ticket sales have barely budged for a week. That early traction is not so much a distant memory but a sick joke.

You take a big gulp and think to yourself, “What if this thing is a washout?”

And just like that, you’re left with that little nagging voice in your head, as the immaculate showcase event you envisioned turns into a salvage job of desperate second-guessing.

Sound familiar? You're not alone. Many event organizers overlook a key ingredient for success – a robust event marketing plan.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin (and a million teachers since)

With this event marketing strategy, we'll show you how to craft an event marketing plan that will attract attendees, generate buzz, and make your event a resounding success. All simple, actionable steps that can make all the difference in getting that smile back on your face in the end (and those feet back on the desk.)

What is an event marketing plan?

An event marketing plan is a document or strategy identifying your key marketing activities to promote a specific event. It's like your roadmap, guiding you from where you are now – with an upcoming event – to where you want to be – with a successful event that achieved its goals.

An event marketing plan is a strategic tool that ensures you're not just hosting an event, but creating a unique, engaging experience that resonates with your audience, satisfies their needs, and achieves your objectives. It is the bridge between your event and potential attendees, facilitating a connection that can lead to long-lasting relationships.

Our event planning proposal template can do much of the heavy lifting for you here; it’s ready to be tweaked as you see fit.

How to create a world-class marketing event plan

The success of your event depends on making sure the right people know about it and how to participate. These steps to create your event marketing plan will help you achieve your goals.

Before you promote your event

The first phase is all about laying the groundwork for a successful event marketing plan. Here's how you do it:

Set clear objectives:

"A goal properly set is halfway reached."

Zig Ziglar, famous salesman and motivational speaker

That means it’s time to wheel out the old SMART acronym for goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

What are your event goals? Increasing brand awareness? Driving sales? Launching a new product? Or is the aim to foster community engagement?

And what does success here look like to you? If you’re selling tickets, sponsorships or exhibitor space, you may want to quantify how many of each you want to sell (and to whom).

Having well-defined objectives gives you a clear vision and direction for your marketing plan.

Define your target audience:

"Know thy customer" is Marketing 101, of course. So, dive into your audience's demographics, interests, and behaviors to understand their needs and desires. This will guide you in crafting an event that resonates and a marketing plan that speaks their language.

Study the competition:

Identify similar events in your industry and analyze their marketing strategies. Understanding what worked and what didn't for others will provide you invaluable insights to inform your marketing plan (and the potholes to avoid!)

Develop a Unique Value Proposition (UVP):

What makes your event different? Why should people attend your event instead of others? Your UVP is what your attendees will receive from your event that they can’t find anywhere else. It should be compelling and persuasive to attract your audience. Unfortunately, “Open Bar,” with five exclamation points, doesn’t cut it anymore…

Launching your event

This phase marks the start of your event promotion and marketing campaign. Here's what you should focus on:

Choose your informational hub:

You need a hub where interested parties (potential attendees, sponsors, or exhibitors) can access your event's information. This includes ticket prices, event registration, sponsorship options, schedules, etc.

A decent event website landing page can be made pretty quickly these days. Still, our event planning marketing proposal templates are even easier to spin up - designed to grab your client’s attention while saving you precious time to dedicate to their event.

Choose the right marketing channels:

Your choice of marketing channels (and tools) should align with your audience's habits. Are they active on social media? LinkedIn, Twitter, or another?

Do they prefer emails, or should you get your hashtags ready?

Answering these questions will ensure your promotional messages reach your audience where they will most likely see them. If you have money to invest in paid advertising, think about the channels that might work best. Are people searching for your event online? Where are they spending time (on the internet or IRL) that they will see and engage with your advertisements?

Create a content strategy:

To create ads and other promotional content for your upcoming event, you’ll want to design a rich and engaging content marketing strategy. This could include blog posts, email campaigns, social media updates, newsletters, podcasts, or even webinars. Your content should be value-driven and align with your UVP.

It may be tempting to skip this step, but if you’re new to event management, you might be surprised how much content you need for effective outreach. While it can take some repetition for your message to really sink in with your audience, you want to ensure you have enough variety so that it doesn’t feel stale.

Plan your timeline:

Sending too many messages too close together might not be the most effective way to get your event information out into the world. Like you’ll create an overall timeline for your event and the logistics involved in producing it, you also want to have a marketing timeline to ensure everyone on the team is clear on the schedule and that messages are reaching your audience at an appropriate cadence.

Periodic reminders can drive ticket sales, entice potential sponsors, and generally help ensure you have a successful event.

Stick to your budget:

Confirming your marketing budget is crucial to ensure you allocate your resources effectively. This should include costs for content creation, advertising, marketing tools, and any other promotional activities you want to undertake.

Unless you have a huge budget, you’ll need sponsors to help you foot the bill. They can also add value to your marketing efforts by promoting the event to their audiences. The sponsors have a vested interest in ensuring attendance at your event, so leverage anything they might offer to maximize your budget and ensure the event meets everyone’s business goals.

Leverage existing followers:

Assuming you have an existing network, get the ball rolling with them. Reach out and offer early bird tickets (at a preferential rate, perhaps, for the first few sign-ups). Utilize your email marketing list and social media channels to get the word out about your event.

Send press releases to relevant journalists:

Compile a list of local journalists covering topics related to your industry or event type. Send them a short press release telling them what type of event it is, and why people should attend. Add your contact information to the release so people can reach you for further details. You can also add a link to your event’s website or the sponsorship proposal you’ve created (using Qwilr’s event proposal template).

Officially release the entire event program:

No matter how good event planners are, there are certain details of an event program that come together within weeks (or sometimes days) of the event. As these details are confirmed, they are great ways to add to your event promotion. Once the event program is final, it’s a great idea to promote that too. Announce the schedule on your social media channels, email confirmed attendees, and ask the sponsors to share it too.

Last call: "Get your tickets while you can."

This stage of your event marketing plan is all about creating a sense of urgency and keeping the momentum going.

Drive Urgency:

As the event day approaches, reinforce the urgency to register or purchase tickets. Remember, FOMO (fear of missing out ) is a powerful motivator- it doesn’t just work on Black Friday!

  • Regular email updates: to remind, inform, and create a buzz when a new speaker is announced (ps. Don’t be shy and provide a call to action to ask recipients to share your updates with their friends and connections, if that’s appropriate).
  • Paid ads: This is budget-dependent, but if you’ve got some cash to spend, last-minute paid ads can be an excellent way to promote, leveraging the reach of social platforms, search engines, and even influencers.

Monitor and Measure Performance:

In your plan, you should identify your key performance indicators (KPIs) and track your performance against them. This could include registration numbers, website traffic, or social media engagement. Analyzing these metrics will allow you to adjust your strategies as needed to hit your target, reallocating your resources to double down on what’s working well and eliminating channels or tactics that aren’t driving as much engagement.

"Thank You for Coming"

Your event's success extends beyond event day (or days). The likelihood is that you’ll benefit from long-standing relationships here, and this builds on that. Your vendors, sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees are worth engaging with after the event to maintain good momentum and build on relationships. It also demonstrates the value you deliver and the attention they can expect.

Post-Event Engagement:

Keep the conversation going after the event concludes. Follow up with thank-you notes, share event highlights, and provide exclusive post-event content. Ask event attendees if they’d like to be added to an email list for early bird benefits next time you host an event.

Feedback from happy attendees is an excellent way to keep the buzz going on social media- not least if they name-check some of your sponsors. (On that note, showcase any metrics that might encourage your sponsors to get on board for your next event too).

Get a free 14-day trial of Qwilr's proposal software and have access to a variety of proposal templates.

Example of an event marketing template

Our interactive event marketing plan template help you create detailed, creative, and well-planned event proposals, fully tailored to your clients' needs. Their use extends beyond just the planning itself. They communicate your vision to all the stakeholders- keeping everyone aligned and avoiding confusion- helping prepare contingencies and securing funding for the event.

Its customizable design, easy-to-use and collaborative interface, and engagement-tracking interactivity make it a real game-changer for anyone planning an event in their industry.

The beauty of this plan (and our template) lies in its flexibility and scalability. It’s as applicable to an intimate workshop as a two-thousand-person conference. Whether you stick to it religiously or go a little off-script, creating a plan will help keep your chances of success high (and your blood pressure, low!)

We hope these tips have given you a shortcut to success at your chosen event (or, at the least, a few pointers!). These tips are further evidence that modern selling requires modern selling techniques. Qwilr's sales proposal software creates sales collateral that closes the buyer-seller gap and opens the door to better sales speed and efficiency. Try it free to see for yourself. Need a little more personal help? Get in touch to book a demo today.

About the author

Brendan Connaughton, Head of Growth Marketing

Brendan Connaughton|Head of Growth Marketing

Brendan heads up growth marketing and demand generation at Qwilr, overseeing performance marketing, SEO, and lifecycle initiatives. Brendan has been instrumental in developing go-to-market functions for a number of high-growth startups and challenger brands.