How to Promote a Venue: 4 Ways to Earn More Visitors
So you’ve just cut the ribbon on a brand new venue. Or your once-successful event space just isn’t bringing in the traffic it should. Either way, your venue could probably use a bit of marketing expertise to keep your attendees coming back.
Not sure how to promote a venue?
A solid marketing strategy is a good place to start. Here’s the breakdown:
1. Put Together a Simple Venue Marketing Strategy
As a venue owner, time and budget constraints can keep you from focusing on the big picture. You can get so busy marketing the event that it’s easy to forget that the venue itself is a big draw, too. The appeal of a venue could push somebody on the fence into attending.
We recommend putting together a basic marketing strategy for your venue. The roadmap for your event marketing strategy is straight out of Marketing 101:
Figure out who your audience is.
Who is your ideal event attendee? Create an attendee persona, keeping these things in mind:
- Age – what types of events and music appeal to your audience will depend on how old they are.
- Income – this could determine how much your attendees can pay for admission, or how many shows they can attend.
- Location – is your audience within a small radius or all over the city? This can determine the geographic target you’ll want to hit.
- Goals – what are you ultimately trying to accomplish?
This will affect everything from your messaging, to the location of your venue, to the types of events you’ll host.
Research the market and your competitors.
This all-important step will help you determine what kind of venue you are. Ask these questions, and do the research necessary to figure out the answers:
- Where is my audience (geographically)?
- Is there a demand for my kind of venue in the city? If not, what will set my venue apart?
- What do each of my competitors do to stand out from the pack?
- What kinds of advertising and promotion do my competitors use?
Articulate your USP.
A huge part of your message is your unique selling proposition (or USP). What makes you different than the rest? If you can’t figure out what separates you from that other venue down the street, how can you encourage someone to go to yours instead?
“Our live music venue is the only one in the city that hosts metal bands.”
“Our wedding venue is the only one in the city located on a lake, making it more picturesque.”
Establish clear goals.
What does success look like?
- A certain average headcount for each event?
- Revenue raised?
- Number of events booked per year?
Think about what matters the most to you. Of course, what matters will be determined by your audience, the type of venue, and what types of events you will host.
This measure of success is called a KPI (Key Performance Indicator). Set your goals with this in mind.
Determine how you’ll reach audiences across the market funnel.
A successful marketing strategy addresses the entire audience journey.
- Top of funnel (awareness). How will you attract people who have never heard of you? Think of online and offline avenues where people are looking for information about events to see. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Unless your job involves event planning, you’re probably searching for an event, not a venue. Think of where people are searching for “[event] near me” (i.e. search engines, social media) and make sure your venue has a presence there.
- Middle of funnel (consideration). These people know who you are, but are deciding between your venue and another. This is important to consider for event promoters and planners. What can you do to be sure that these people are thinking of you when they book their next event?
- Bottom of funnel (purchase/retention): Many of your customers are already here. You won’t need to sell them on your venue, but make sure the buying process is seamless. What online experience can you build to ensure attendees can easily purchase admission? What communication methods can you use to keep happy attendees coming back?
Create a budget, and stick to it.
Marketing materials and digital advertising will be more effective if you devote money to them consistently. A strict budget will also force you to focus on which marketing channels are only giving you the best ROI (return on investment). No fancy budgeting tools needed - just a spreadsheet and a knowledge of what you’ll need to track. Be sure to track your expected costs alongside your actual costs (so you can see where you went over or under budget). Learn more about putting together a good marketing budget.
2. Best Practices For How to Promote a Venue
Whether you own a small music venue or a huge conference center, these best practices apply to you:
Build a strong website. Don’t just rely on social media and venue directory websites. A good website goes a long way toward establishing your reputation. Talk to your web designer to ensure your site is:
- Mobile responsive.
- Optimized for search engines.
- Optimized for conversions.
Look at some great venue website examples.
Embrace search and social advertising. Today’s digital advertising technologies are extremely powerful. No longer do you need to spend the money to blast your message to an entire city - digital advertising targets the user.
- Search Advertising - 62% of searches in 2019 were on Google. Advertising your upcoming events with search engine advertising is a no-brainer. Bid on keywords your fans are searching with to make sure they see your message on the top of their search results page.
- Facebook - The most popular social network. If you know your audience inside and out, Facebook’s targeting capabilities are second to none. Target people interested in the types of events you put on and layer their age and other demographic info on top.
- Instagram - Perfect for targeting millennials and people interested in experiences using the power by visuals. Powered by Facebook’s robust ad platform.
- LinkedIn - the social network for professionals. LinkedIn Advertising is a useful resource for targeting professional event planners and promoters.
3. Use Tactics Specific to Your Type of Venue
Different venue types call for different marketing channels and messages. Here are three examples of how the type of venue will determine the tactics you will use:
How to Promote a Venue: Live Music
Audience: Concertgoers, new and returning.
Just like with their favorite artists, music fans have real emotional connections to their favorite venues. As a music venue owner, you’ll create lifelong memories in your event-goers. Your tactics will be focused on creating loyal attendees who will want to continue seeing shows at your venue.
Engage your community on social media. Whatever “scene” your music venue serves is on social media. The best platform is determined by your audience’s demographics, but your best bet is to focus on Facebook and Instagram. Ask questions that inspire conversation about your venue or the music scene. Show your visitors a behind-the-scenes look by highlighting venue staff. And encourage them to share their awesome experience at your venue and tag you.
Create campaigns for each event. Compared to other venue types, you’ll want to continually remind fans of your events to encourage repeat attendance. Create a Facebook event page for each concert. Use music platforms like BandsInTown to raise awareness of your events. And of course, be present where your fans are.
Build a street team. The same way bands use street teams to spread grassroots support and awareness of their shows, you can do the same with your venue. Put together a team of your venue’s biggest fans. Your street team will distribute materials, talk up your venue and shows around town, and provide important intel on competing venues. GIve away tickets, exclusive merch, or some other incentive in exchange.
Create and distribute beautiful posters and flyers. Print material in 2019? In the world of live music promotion, print still plays a big role. Invest in a graphic designer who can design eye-catching event posters that appeal to your target audience. Your street team can distribute them to appropriate locations (and start a conversation about partnering with your venue).
Host artist Meet & Greets. Artists who take their promotion seriously will often be happy to help you host additional events to attract a wider audience. Not only will you help an artist raise awareness of their show, but they can also promote your venue to their own fans.
How to Promote a Venue: Weddings
Audience: Millennials, warm leads.
Your clients have been waiting their entire lives for their wedding day. Add in the fact that millennials (which make up 80% of today’s marrying couples) are more attracted to buying experiences than buying things.
Your prospects are warm (you don’t need to sell them on getting married). So you’ll just need to focus on selling that once-in-a-lifetime experience they want.
Promote your venue on wedding planning websites like WeddingWire, The Knot, Wedding Spot, and others. Millennials do their research. Your venue will need to be present anywhere users can leave reviews. Your presence on these sites also gives your website an SEO boost, as your name and information are associated with a reputable domain.
Use visual-heavy social media to create the experience of your venue online. Instagram is a must for wedding venues. Post high-quality photos and videos of the venue and weddings held in the venue. Use Pinterest to showcase high-quality media.
Solicit user-generated content to host on your site and social media profiles. A perfect wedding is an emotional experience, and of great interest to couples planning their own. Solicit wonderful wedding stories, photos, and videos to share on your online outlets (with permission). Give your client a special shoutout.
Offer tours of your wedding venue. Show off the beauty of your space, and walk your clients through the entire experience before they put any money down. Remember, you’re selling the entire experience (not just the features of the venue).
Attend your local bridal expos. Be sure to show off the unique and special side of your venue to separate it from the many other venues present. A special show promotion wouldn’t hurt either!
Partner with other businesses visited before you. Brides and grooms to be are likely researching jewelry and dress options before picking out a venue. Get to know the local jewelry shops and bridal shops, and make sure they know about you. Partner with them to offer a special promotion for newly engaged couples.
How to Promote a Venue: Corporate Events
Audience: Conference organizers, event planners
With corporate event venues, you’ll want to focus your market on those who plan the events. This will involve different tactics than promoting to event-goers.
- Get listed in online event directories. Corporate event planners often start their search for a good venue by perusing these sites. One of the top venue directory sites, BizBash, has over 50,000 listings. Check out other venue directory sites.
- Get on LinkedIn. Corporate event planners are on LinkedIn. Join some event industry LinkedIn groups and find useful content to share. You can also use LinkedIn’s targeted InMail advertising to hit the inboxes of prospects that live near your venue.
- Optimize your website for information about the venue itself. Include all relevant technical details (location, size, capacity, electrical information, etc.), as these are important to event planners in the middle of research. Make sure the information is easily indexed by search engines.
- Host an industry workshop. Work with an event planning expert in your area to organize a talk. Invite potential clients and their friends to the event for free. This is to establish yourself, build relationships, and give them an idea of how your venue would work for their events.
- Build relationships with your city. Connect with your local Chamber of Commerce. You’re sure to meet plenty of event organizers, business owners, and potential partners. You can partner with the chamber to host a city event at your venue.
- Establish yourself in your industry. Since you’re working in a more professional space, you’ll need to build your reputation. Be sure to attend local industry conferences and anywhere corporate planners congregate. Give people a chance to get to know you and (most importantly) learn from you.
4. How to Promote a Venue With a Marketing Agency
As a venue owner, you’re wearing a ton of different hats (especially if you’ve just opened up the venue). You’re likely to take on aspects of marketing you might not know much about. But time is money, and you can’t afford to try things just to see what works.
Many venue owners see the value in hiring a marketing agency to build out their strategy. Why?
It’s more affordable.
Think of what it would cost to hire an in-house marketing team - marketing manager, social media specialist, web designer, graphic designer, blogger, etc.
A good marketing agency can tackle all these areas with skill and experience. Without yearly salaries and benefits packages hanging over your head, you’ll save plenty of money in the long run.
Plus, marketing agencies are well versed in a huge variety of industries and backgrounds, so they can provide marketing knowledge tailored directly to event and venue marketing. Having a knowledgeable staff at your disposal saves you lots of time in the long run, trying to figure things out on your own.
An agency gets you a broader skillset.
Sure, you could attempt to hire a rockstar marketing/web design/graphic design/social media/SEO specialist. But professionals with real skill in all these departments are few and far between. An agency can assist you with everything from branding, developing campaigns, social media strategy, PPC advertising, and beyond - all under one roof.
An agency gives you a new perspective.
If you’re doing the marketing yourself, you may find yourself doing the same type of marketing over and over - not necessarily because it’s the best thing to do, but because you don’t have the time or experience to optimize it. An agency can help you inject new life into your strategy and campaigns.
Marketing is an ongoing process, and must continually be tested, improved, and changed. But it never ends. And you’ll appreciate an agency that stays up to date on the newest technologies, platforms, and methodology.
How to Promote a Venue: Let Pacific54 Take Care Of It
Pacific54 is a one-stop-shop for all your venue’s marketing needs. We know how to promote a venue and will get you the visitors you deserve. Save the time and money you’d need to hire an in-house team or learn everything yourself.
Give us a call or shoot us an email today, and we’ll help you get started with the perfect plan for your event venue.