Can we get an event marketing plan up in here? Let’s be real – how many times has a variation of this thought occurred to you? Probably once a week. Maybe once a day. Or even several times a day! Because no matter how you feel about it, marketing is a fundamental part of any business. And it’s a fundamental part of your job as an event professional as well. But with the world changing so fast, and technology popping up everywhere, it’s easy to get lost. In which direction should you go?

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That’s exactly what this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday is all about. We’re here today to help you navigate the uncertain waters of marketing. And more specifically, of creating an event marketing plan. Our amazing guide Nick Borelli has a six-step strategy that will turn your world upside down – in a good way! Shall we see what happens when you welcome a scientific approach to the world of business? Press play, we’re building the ultimate event marketing plan!

event Marketing plan

Video Transcription – The Ultimate Event Marketing Plan: A Six-Step System

Hi everybody. This is Nick Borelli, and we are on Whiteboard Wednesdays. And I’m going to talk to you about how to create an event marketing plan. I think that sometimes that sounds very scary. It sounds very permanent, and it might not have an entry point. It just feels like you have to know everything.

Why Do I Need A Marketing Event Plan?

And the reality is is that, as long as you have a pretty solid methodology, it can be a little bit living. And it can change and adapt, especially at the bottom of this hierarchy. But there’s kind of a system that is pretty foolproof. I find that, if you were to adopt these principles, and maybe revisit them on an annual basis, you would have a really strong idea of where your marketing is going. And you wouldn’t feel like you’re just doing things to do them.

Because what happens is is that people in this list, I’ll show you that it goes from one thing to the other thing, to the other thing. Most people go right to the bottom. They go right to work. They go right to the busyness. And it’s a bad place to start. In fact, the best place to start is knowing who you are. Right? And that is the mission, the vision and the values of your organization.

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Event Marketing Plan: Mission, Vision, And Values

Be it an event, be it if you’re a supplier, it doesn’t matter. Whatever the organization is, you have to have these things. And I have talked to people, and they’ve told me in so many words that this is, it’s kind of fluff. Like, “Oh, what’s my mission?” Well, I’m going to tell you that you’ve no idea what you’re doing if you don’t know that.

You are just making stuff up. You’re inconsistent. Your ability to say, when to say no and when to say yes, it’s completely ruined without actually having a formalized mission. I have one for my business, and I’m going to tell you. I just make all my decisions based on that. If it works for that, I do it. And if it doesn’t, I don’t.

Why Do I Do What I Do?

It’s really simple to delegate. It’s really simple to decline. To choose the things I want to do is simply based on what I’m about, and what my why is. What really makes up my purpose and where I’m going. When you have those things, you don’t really have to determine if this fits or not. Or if this is your voice or any of those things that are in marketing that I think sometimes is scary for people.

Because you’ve done the work and you’ve done your due diligence to figure out what makes you different, and what really makes you excited about doing what you do. Starting the business that you started, having the event you started, and events, sometimes it’s called an organizing principle, but the bottom line is, if you know these three things, you are doing things with purpose consistently.

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Event Marketing Plan: Goals! Goals!

Moving on, there’s kind of the idea of goals. Sometimes people think everything is goals. It’s just goals and tactics. It’s not true. Goals need to be something that, it’s kind of a, you can’t really touch or feel. They’re just big, right? They’re too big to really figure out exactly how to do them, but that’s okay.

It’s a good starting spot, and I’m going to tell you that most goals ended up being kind of almost like too obvious. And that’s kind of okay, right? It’s like, “My goal is we want to increase sales, or we want to increase attendance, or we want to make more money.” That’s fine. At this level, you can be that broad and that vague. Because sometimes people don’t want to have all of the sales, right?

Your Own Definition Of Success

I’m a consultant, right? So in my mission, I’m not trying to have all of the clients. Because I’m just one person. If I was an agency, yeah, I would try to get as many clients as I could possibly, exponentially grow. I have a cap on growth. I don’t want to grow past a certain period. So I just want to have better clients. That’s my mission. That’s how I do things.

But how you might do things is completely different. But if you don’t have those goals, if you don’t have the bottom-line goals, if you don’t have what your vision of a successful organization looks like, then again, you’re just doing things to do things. So this doesn’t have to be very tangible. It will move into the tangibility when you get into objectives.

Event Marketing Plan: Objectives

So that’s kind of breaking these down. So if you’re, for instance, you’re an event and you want to grow attendance, right? Every year we want to have more attendees. Great. Well, how do you do that,? You don’t say, “Okay, everybody, we’re going to grow this event, get to work.” It’s not enough.

So making it a little bit more tangible and setting objectives, what you find is, okay, well, we want to ensure that we have as high of retention as possible. We want to go after, we want to have more first-year attendees. Protect what’s there, and grow it in new ways. And we want to be able to have a presence that is increased in our industry.

These are things that will serve that goal of greater attendance, but they’re a little bit more tangible. They’re still big, but they’re tangible. And really breaking them down into kind of buckets assigned to the goals. So if you have a goal of, let’s say, more clients. You would say, “Okay, well, we need to be able to have more leads to able to have more clients. We need to have a better closing percentage to have more clients.”

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Event Marketing Plan: Let’s Get Strategizing

But it’s still not enough. You can’t just say, “Okay, everybody, have a better closing percentage,” and then it just happens, right? There’s nothing, there’s nothing smart, as the acronym SMART is stated, about just stopping at this point. So you know where you kind of want to go, and you’ve broken those down into somewhat more tangible targets. Then you get into where most of the mental work happens, and that’s strategies.

That’s my entire business. Helping people with their strategies. Because, and I don’t like to do the work, and I also don’t care about the goals. Those are your goals. I can’t tell you what you want. I can’t tell you if you want to exponentially grow, or if you just want to have better … That’s your business, right? So I can’t touch that. I don’t want to do the work.

Where Am I Going With This?

So I can help you figure out how to be streamlined. And that’s really what people do when they’re in the strategy point of view. They take this stuff and they say, “Okay, how do I break this down into a path that is here, then here, then here?” It’s actually being able to see the endpoint from the goal. And then figure out, okay, how is this done? Here’s a roadmap for success.

So this is about laying out what the repeatable actions will be. And knowing a few things about a business that lets you make those decisions. So for instance, you need to know at the strategy level how many different channels you have to market on. You need to know, do you have relationships with publishers? Do you have relationships with allies, associations?

Social media channels, email, website? A photographer or videographer? Or a copywriter? Do you have subcontracting organizations? You need to know all of the pieces, and then you need to know a couple of business things that are really important.

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Event Marketing Plan: Tactics Are Your New BFF

So number one, I find that you absolutely need to know what your cost per acquisition is. This is one of two big things when it comes to marketing that makes all of this happen. And that means cost per acquisition is simply how much money you spend in acquiring a lead before it turns into a conversion. So you need to know, I spend this much on marketing, and this is how many clients I get out of that.

When you know that, you know how much each one of your leads is worth, and you know how much your budget can be, and you can start making decisions that are based in reality. That’s really key. Probably, the next biggest thing you need to know is your closing rate. And this is when there’s a kind of a sales component, so you know how much it costs to get someone to basically call you or email you.

And the next is how often are those calls and emails turning into clients, turning into attendees? Even if it’s attendees, and it’s simply like a registration page, you know how much it costs in your online advertising, your websites, your social media people, your graphics. It’s all of that marketing stuff to be able to turn into somebody coming on your registration page. And then you know, once they get there, the opportunity for them to go all the way through and give you your money.

Why Doing The Math Matters

That closing rate and cost per acquisition allow you to strategically look at all the pieces that you have in play and then start getting the goals made, broken down through objectives. And then the last bit is really the doing. It’s taking the strategies and saying, “Okay, well, we know that, for instance, our goal is to increase registration. One of the ways to increase registration is to increase our pipeline by increasing our visibility.

So, strategically, that means that we are at more trade shows, we are working with our associations, we are sending out better and more frequent emails. And then the tactics say, “Okay, well, the best time to unleash an email is Tuesday, between 10:00 AM and noon, and we know we need to do that weekly. And social media has to come out once a day. And there are these different kinds of campaigns that we have, and that we have one come on a Monday, and one comes on Tuesday, and these ones are based on personas.”

All of the doing stuff, that happens here. And even things like based on frequency, you can create templates so you can do things more frequently, if that’s a challenge that you have, as far as time to do things. Automation, you can have a pipeline. So if somebody comes into a certain point, there’s conditional logic that routes them in different directions. So the work is not necessarily manual, but the work can be done through systems.

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Event Marketing Plan: Measuring Results

And then just getting everything down to a science of you know this is always happening. And then the last, last bit of all of this is, is that you’re not done. You’ve done all the work, and you’ve created systems that allow you to know that it’s happening routinely. The last bit, basically, is a judgment on what you’re doing, and then starting over again, and re-evaluating based on the data that you have.

So you say, “Okay, let’s say the tactics. Every Tuesday we send an email, every day we do a Facebook post, everyday tweets.” Well, eventually, you’re going to start building up some analytics, and it’s going to tell you how successful the ideas that you had here to take on this, to take on this, it’ll tell you how the ideas, once you started executing them, actually worked out.

Once you do that, you can say, “Oh, you know what, actually, I probably should’ve done it on Thursdays, because we AB split the emails. So instead of Tuesdays, we’re going to do it on Thursdays, and we’re going to do it at 3:00 PM, between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM.” You start tweaking things, and you get better and better and better. That way, when you put stuff and you reevaluate your objectives, maybe your goals to the same, maybe not.

Never Stop Tweaking

But when you look at your strategies again, as it comes closer, these change more frequently. This rarely changes. These might change a little bit every once in a while. And these change maybe quarterly, more frequently. But these change all the time, based on this. Looking at your measurables and saying, “Okay, this is working. This isn’t working, this is working. It’s working.”

But you have to have a foundation from the most pie in the sky, so what you’re put on this earth to do, to what you want to do, to how you’re going to do it, to create solutions to get there, to doing the work every single day to make sure that it happens. And then seeing how you did in order to determine if it’s the way to do it or how to tweak.

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Event Marketing Plan: Keep Going At It

That’s really a real foundational system that you can apply everything to, but you have to start here, and work through this each time, and consider that without a mission, you don’t know what the work is. If you skip to this bit, you’re just doing to doing. So I thought this would be a good tweet, so I did it. It just feels hollow.

All those feelings that you have when you do your marketing that don’t feel good, that don’t have the results you’re really looking for, is because you’re not staying the course and building on a foundation of uniqueness. So I really urge everyone to say, “All right, let’s have a group together. Let’s focus on this stuff here. And then let’s create a system that each and every time that we do this, in order to be consistent, and in order to learn.”

Most of the marketing is guesswork. It’s mostly a hypothesis. This is a hypothesis to test and back. This is essentially the scientific method as it applies to marketing. So if that’s something that you think that you can adopt, I would go for it. But if there’s anything here that you don’t quite understand, as far as how it would fit your business, I’d be really curious to hear that in the comments below.


So, if there’s some kind of stumbling block to getting you to this point, let me know. Because I’ll chime right in. Otherwise, thanks for watching this episode on creating an event marketing plan. Make sure to come back next week because there’s more awesome content coming your way!


How Endless Events Does Marketing – #EventIcons Episode 171

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How to Measure Event Marketing Success

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Nick Borelli

Author Nick Borelli

With 20+ years in the industry, Nick Borelli is passionate about helping event brands communicate stories that result in achieving strategic goals.

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