Creating a Marketing Plan for an Event

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Recently, a friend of mine asked for some advice about creating a marketing plan specificially for an event and so I cobbled together the following plan for him.   I’m sharing it here in case it is of use to someone else.

Outline Marketing Plan for an Event

1.  Summary / Introduction 
Details about the organisation / project.  For example, clearly state the mission, values etc, and details such as turnover, number of staff etc.
2.  Situation Analysis
2.1) Market Summary 
Identify your target market(s).  For example, who is your event aimed at in terms of attendees, supporters etc.  i.e. if your event is a healthcare conference, your target audience may be NHS workers, Mental Health workers, Social Care professionals etc.  You may seek sponsorship from pharmacuetical companies, sector press etc.  
i) Market demographics – What are your market demographics?  Male / female?  Age?  Geographics i.e. where are your target market based and typical behaviours i.e. are they people training in a certain specialism?  Are they a business looking at expansion ?
ii) Market needs What does your target market need?  i.e. competitively priced events?  Or education events?  Professionalism?
iii) Market trends What are the trends for your market? 
iv) Market Growth  What is the forecasted growth of your market?  Is it a growing market? Is there a growing need for your type of event?   
2.2) SWOT Analysis
        i)  Strengths 
        ii)  Weaknesses
        iii) Opportunities
        iv) Threat
2.3) Competition
Are there any other organisations running similar events to meet the needs of the target market?  What do they do?  What are you doing differently?
2.4) Services
What services are you supplying?  Is it just an event…or something more?  For example – does your event form part of ongoing CPD training?  Or perhaps your additional services online networking before and after the event?   
2.5) Keys to success
What needs to happen to identify your event as a success?  For example – are your outcomes something like ‘we need X number of people to attend’ or ‘X amount of income’ or ‘X amount of press coverage’ or ‘X feedback’ 
3.  Marketing Strategy
3.1) Mission 
What is the mission statement of your organisation
3.2) Marketing Objectives
What are your key objectives – why are you running this event?  For example, is an object to increase awareness of your organisation / brand?  Whatever the object, ensure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timed)
3.3) Financial Objectives
What are the financial objectives of the event?  Is it to generate a certain amount of income?  Or are you just looking to break even?  What are your funding needs?  What is your available budget?
3.4) Target Markets
List your target markets…i.e ‘young people’ or ‘businesses’ etc. 
3.5) Positioning
How will this event be positioned?  Is it the only event of its kind?  What makes it different? 
3.6) Marketing Mix
i)  Product
This relates to your brand.  What is it that you are offering? 
ii)  Price
What are the costs?  
iii)  Place
This relates to the physcial place (where will the event take place), and also the distribution channels
iv)  Promotion
How will you promote the event?  What is your strategy?  What PR will you do?  How and where will you advertise?  Do you have a website? 
3.7) Marketing Research
What research have you done?  Where did the idea for the event come from?  (i.e. feedback from contacts or from previous events) 
3.9) Strategic Alliances
Is there anyone that you could work with to help with the event?  i.e volunteers from local uni?  Are there any organisations that could help you promote your event?  Is the event in partnership with anyone else?
4.  Financials
4.1) Breakeven analysis
How much income is needed in order to break even?
4.2) Sales Forecast
How many tickets do you think you’ll sell to your event?  If it is a free event, how much sponsorship do you plan to get?  How are you costing your tickets – i.e. will you offer an early bird rate? 
4.3) Expense Forecast 
What is the expenditure?  How much do you think event will cost?
5.  Controls
What needs to be monitored to ensure success…and when?  For example, how many tickets need to be sold by date / monthy registrations etc.
5.1) Implementation
The key milestones. For example:  “The website needs to be complete by XXX date” and “The brochure needs to be complete by XXX date” etc
5.2) Marketing Organisation
Who are the team?  What are their responsibilities? 
5.3) Contingency Planning
What are the forecast difficulties or risks?  What will you do in a worst case scerio?  What is your contingency plan?  i.e. what will need to happen if the event cannot cover its own costs etc

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