Why you need an event marketing strategy to take your event to the next level. Robert Masterson, managing director of Mustard Media, reveals all..

We find that many event owners and marketers we speak to have been promoting an event for years – they have a formula that they’ve used for a long time they get OK ticket sales but they’re plateauing and the event isn’t growing.
They have the same template marketing budget they use each year and their main marketing strategy is to use last year’s budget as a checklist for the things they should do this year. They launch the event in a certain way each year, maybe changing it up a little, but not much. It worked OK last year so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. They ran some paid social media advertising and got some engagement but they’re not sure how many sales are actually from that but it felt like it worked so they’re going to continue with that. They always do some posters and some flyers so they’re going to continue doing that this year. They do some email marketing and they know they get some spikes when some of them go out but they don’t know for sure how much effect that had.
They have a dream on how much they want to grow the event but after they’ve budgeted out all the production and event running costs there is little left for marketing so marketing will have to make do with what there is and will have to do their best regardless.
If any of the above sounds like your event then it sounds like you have no strategy whatsoever.

What is marketing strategy?
This sounds like a stupid question right? But it’s not. Many people don’t really understand what makes up a good marketing strategy.
A good strategy has the same four foundations – a target, a diagnosis, a guiding policy and a set of coherent actions.

What is a good marketing strategy?
A good strategy has the same four foundations – a target, a diagnosis, a guiding policy and a set of coherent actions.

Targets
To build a good strategy you need to step back and look at what your targets for you event are, what do you want it to grow into and what is the motivation behind your event. Once that is clear it becomes much easier to see the road ahead, just drifting on with no goals except putting on the event is no good if you want your event to grow. It simply does not happen organically. You need to understand all of the steps you need to take to make it grow and the marketing is an absolutely critical part of that.

The diagnosis
The diagnosis is a careful analysis of an often complex set of problems. The marketing challenge your event faces is unique. To analyse your problems properly you need to get help. You need to take a step back alongside experts with a fresh perspective and industry knowledge to deeply analyse them and understand which challenges and opportunities you need to address and action on to build a good strategy.

The guiding policy
To build a good guiding policy for marketing your event you need to have considered all of your challenges and opportunities and you need to have confidence, experience, and learn from other people’s mistakes but knowing what works and doesn’t work. You need to look at your problems from an outsider’s perspective or get an outsider to help you with that. The guiding policy lays out the overall approach to your marketing, including how you’ll find and convert event attendees to ticket purchasers.
Build awareness in your event, launching it, creating hype – getting customers to consider attending and then get them convert to purchases.
Statistically, you’re five times more likely to have a car accident if you’re talking on a cell phone while driving – roughly the same as if you’re drunk. However, though many people are aware of this fact, when faced with a decision they tend to think: “It won’t happen to me, I am a good driver”.
This phenomenon is called the inside view – the tendency to ignore lessons others have learned in a similar situation and to believe that our specific situation is somehow different.
Many of us follow the inside view, and so often the results are fatal. It’s key to get a view from the outside to form a good strategy.

Coherent actions
The strategy is not complete without a set of coherent actions to actually make your guiding policy happen. You’ll need to formulate these carefully considering how to build awareness in your event, how to launch it, how to create hype – getting customers to consider attending and then get them convert to purchases.
The key is that it must be a plan reflective of your individual situation with the right balance of resources and actions. It sounds obvious to say that but we find that it’s easy for event owners to have the ambition to bite off more than they can chew. When designing our marketing strategies collaboratively with event owners we carefully consider their resources and the impact ideas are actually going to have.

How can an event marketing strategy take my event to the next level
If you don’t have an event marketing strategy you’re simply not going to hit your goals. It’s a simple as that. It’s not a marketing strategy to book an event and hit and hope that the talent on the bill will be enough to sell the tickets.
It’s a crowded market – there are so many events in every sector and so many opportunities to see the talent you’re booking. You must have a marketing strategy in line with your goals if you want to hit your growth ambitions.

Done right alongside experienced event marketers and promoters – an event marketing strategy is probably the single most important investment you’ll make in your marketing budget. It will give your entire team clarity on exactly what they need to do and why they need to do it and how they should go about it to get your event to the level you desire. The process of getting to it will save you a huge amount of time, you stop planning day to day and and give yourself and your team a clear focus, energising and empowering you together.