7 Critical Keys to Effective Event Venue Marketing
Figuring out how to promote an event / function venue can be a challenge. When setting out to create an event venue marketing plan, you may be overwhelmed by the deluge of marketing ideas that pop up from a simple Google search on the topic. Some tactics seem to contradict others. Others sound like they may be specific to a particular kind of function, event or venue. Like will these wedding venue promotion ideas apply to my venue? Or is there an ideal venue marketing plan template or process I should be using?
So glad you asked. We have identified seven key strategies that can make all the difference in promoting your venue.
Start at the Beginning: Build a Venue Marketing Plan
No doubt you already have a lot of venue marketing ideas. Ideas are a great start, but they are not a plan. Like any other organization, you need a strategy that defines the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of your event venue business. Let’s take a look at those considerations (in a somewhat different order).
What. It’s the most basic of all questions. What goes on here? You need to define your core product, the kinds of events your venue supports. Parties? Banquets? Weddings? A nice mix of things? Wedding venue marketing is a world unto itself and, if it is your exclusive focus, you may want to begin by finding a good sample wedding venue marketing plan as well as brainstorming wedding venue promotion ideas.
Who. Who are your customers? If you do corporate banquets, what size organization do you typically see? What business are they in? If weddings, what is the demographic mix of your average couple? You need to identify what the typical event buyer looks like: where they live, what they do, what they earn. If these buyer personas aren’t what you hoped they would be, you need to start setting targets for the clients whose business you want to attract.
Where. Location is a critical consideration for any event business. Your event venue marketing plan should describe how you will leverage that location to your advantage. How do you work with neighboring businesses and residents to build your business? How do you get the “Here we are!” message to those who will most benefit from it?
How. Detail all of the business basics. What spaces or offerings does your venue provide? What packages do you provide and how are they priced? How do you transact business: on site via walk-ins? On the phone? Through the website? Also, what are your business goals for the venue? You need to establish clear, measurable goals that are both timed and actionable.
Why. What is your venue’s unique value proposition? Describe your advantages over competing venues. Is your location more convenient? Do you offer services they can’t? Do you have views or architecture that sets you apart? Do you win on price?
Build a Referral Network to Keep Them Coming Back
Referrals are critical to your event venue marketing plan. Nothing builds your venue business faster than a solid referral network. One great way to jumpstart that network is to host events specifically to create referrals.
You can partner with an industry supplier, your local chamber of commerce, or a nonprofit to host events that will bring in businesses and individuals who are themselves likely to need to book a venue in the near future. Fundraisers and networking events can generate so much potential business that they are often worth offering as a loss leader.
Follow-up and follow-through are critical. If you are working with the chamber of commerce, be sure that your materials are available with them. They can get your message to local businesses, government agencies and civic organizations likely to be holding events. And they can tell you when new businesses are coming to town.
Also, make sure your materials are with industry partners you are working with. (And offer to keep their brochures and such on hand, too.) Plus, make sure you provide gifts or other incentives to referrers who bring you business. Thank-you notes are another excellent way to cement that relationship.
Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Fanbase
These days any good event venue marketing plan, especially if you’re doing wedding venue marketing, includes a presence on Instagram, Facebook and probably YouTube. Social media platforms are table stakes, as is LinkedIn if your outreach includes local businesses. To build a social following requires generating social content on a regular basis and actively working to engage your growing network. You can build engagement through games, contests, and other interactive activities on these platforms.
Social networks also represent a primary channel for reputation management. Use your social channels to encourage positive reviews and to monitor and respond appropriately to discussions as they develop.
HINT: This in-depth article on event marketing gives you powerful social marketing tips used by event planners that are also very effective for venues.
Do It by the Numbers With Effective Web Marketing
Of course, web marketing is far too vast a topic for us to cover in any detail here. But it begins with understanding how well your web presence is meeting the goals you set out when creating the venue marketing plan (see above).
Google Analytics provides some great resources to help you start digging into your data to understand what your web presence is doing for you and where it needs work. Google Maps, Google My Business, and Google Ads can help you optimize your venue website for conversion, whether that means actually fulfilling orders online or just getting a prospect to call in or request an email with more information.
Once you have these essentials down, you are ready to consider whether you want to use pay per click (PPC) advertising through search engines or social channels to drive traffic to your site.
Use Powerful Content to Tell Your Story (and Theirs)
On your venue website, within social channels, on marketplace sites like Peerspace, and through printed materials, your content must support the full customer journey. This requires knowing, as we noted above, who these potential customers are and how they found their way to you.
Guide readers (and casual browsers) to a moment of decision. Give them a clear call to action to respond to. Highlight the unique value proposition you defined above with engaging copy and gorgeous visuals. Show events in action. People take wedding pictures for a reason, you know. They work on a personal level but also on a marketing level as well!
Your content must be fresh and relevant, and it must (through keywords and other tools) be linked to your overall web venue marketing strategy as outlined above. Using a schedule for producing new content is highly advisable.
We’ll Call You: Leverage Print Publications
These days, you might not immediately think of old school event marketing tactics like print publications when listing out your top venue marketing ideas. But print ads in community guides, as well as local magazines and newspapers, can be a very effective channel when used carefully. You can start by using the same channels your competitors use and then move on to discover new niches they aren't using.
Event and venue directories are especially important, in both their print and online incarnations. Depending on your venue and the kinds of events you specialize in, you may focus exclusively on local directories or you may need to look at state, regional, and national directories as well.
And Don’t Forget About Email
Building and managing a good email marketing list should be a vital part of your venue marketing plan. A loyal email following is not only a great channel for your content ... it’s a good way to build and maintain customer loyalty.
As with social and web content, quality and consistency are key. Social channels (especially Facebook and LinkedIn), as well as your website, provide good opportunities to build your email list through special offers. For example, you can offer a free download to event planners who provide an email address in return. Collecting business cards at networking events is another good way to jumpstart your list.
So there you have it. This may not be the complete answer to how to promote a function venue, but the seven venue marketing ideas presented here are of critical importance to your venue business. Use these seven keys as your basic venue marketing plan template, and then adjust accordingly to suit your market. These tactics should put you well ahead of the game (and your competitors).