An event marketing sales plan is the difference between an event that rocks and one that fizzles out unprofitably. It’s merely a matter of thinking through your event goals and plotting out the touchpoints to completion.
I’m not talking about an elaborate sales plan with executive summaries, market conditions, and SWOT analysis. In this article, we’re going to discuss how you’ll facilitate sales at events. And I believe each and every event needs its own mini-plan, unique to the experience you’re creating.
Now, we’ll be talking about making sales, but I’m not discussing ticket sales. I considered that a separate topic, and it’s covered elsewhere:
Why you need to plan for the sale
If you consider what occurs at an event, whether a business seminar or a wedding, most people skip over one of the biggest challenges. As the host, you’ll be expected to schmooze, hang out, have a drink or present. In fact, for much of the event, your time will be dedicated to your guests.
And while that’s lovely, that’s not event marketing. It’s not conducive to completing transactions, collecting leads, or running credit cards at the point of sale. In other words, you can’t be closing deals while simultaneously being an MC.
And that’s what I mean by an event marketing sales plan. You’re taking the time to figure out how you’ll make the event a success before the event. And a successful event should be rewarding for your guests and financially worthwhile for your business.
The Four-Point Event Marketing Sales Plan Requires Focus
I like to consider a relatively simple plan with four points. And we’ll run through them below. But before we can really dig into the idea, let’s detour briefly to discuss focus.
Focus is the best event marketing strategy because it’s where you decide on a singular business goal. Without knowing the core reason behind your event, you can’t very well plan to make your event successful, can you? So decide, explicitly, what your event will be about. It will inform your event design, content, marketing materials, and, yes, your event marketing sales plan.
Step 1. Pick your product
This could be the product that you most want to sell at the event. Or it could be the part of your service that you’d like clients to know about right now during this event.
You’ve probably got a lot to offer, but for event marketing to be effective, your plan needs clarity. This clarity comes from picking the product you most want to sell.
Let’s look at some examples. If you’re a lawyer, your event isn’t going to be about the law, in all its general complexity. No, your seminar or workshop will focus on a particular niche. Perhaps a recent labor law change that requires employers to take action. Thus your workshop content and sales plan will focus on that statute and how your firm can help keep businesses in compliance.
Or, if you’re a retail store, an event that revolves around a particular product allows you to do fun demos and print material and get the manufacturer to sponsor. A central product is the first step in an event marketing sales plan.
Oh, and it also allows you to strategize too, including thinking about buyer personas, PR, and more.
Step 2. Lay The Groundwork
Following step 1, you can now map out the path from the first engagement to the sale. Your event website can highlight the service or product. Then, as anyone registers, you can add them to an email automation campaign. You’re effectively priming your attendees, so they’re receptive to your event’s purpose.
And don’ forget about prepping physical materials either. If you’re doing a presentation, you’ll need a PowerPoint, a projector, a screen, and maybe a microphone. You’ll need to design a banner, and know where to hang it.
Sounds obvious, right? But I doubt you’d be terribly surprised at how often this goes awry. An adapter doesn’t work, the printing is left too late. Laying the groundwork means preparation, testing, and, ultimately, a sense of calm. And yes, you absolutely must use event planning software to stay on track. Otherwise, all the little details slip away, and you’re left scrambling.
Step 3. Know Your Ask
At some point in the gathering, you’ll need to ask your guests for something. It could be a sale or an appointment with a sales rep. Maybe it’s their email address. Perhaps it’s a donation.
Whatever it is, don’t be shy. Master the art of asking. Because in the end, if you don’t ask, you don’t receive.
This is really the end of the funnel – the conversion by which you’ll measure your event marketing achievements. And by planning your ask in advance, you can aim the funnel toward the conversion. So write it down, rehearse it if you have to, but no matter what, don’t leave this to instinct and wing it.
Step 4. Don’t get stuck
I touched on this above. During the event, you’re the social butterfly, the host with the most, and the center of everybody’s attention. If you’re the only person who can close the deal, make the sale or ring ’em up, you’re in trouble.
I’ve seen it time and time again. Because everyone will want a piece of your attention, your sales will slow to a snail’s pace. Potential conversions will drift away out of boredom or frustration.
Consider hiring an event coordinator if you’re putting on an experience with vendors, staff, and complexity. Let someone else worry about executing the event while you work on your business.
Or wrangle some staff to be on hand. Or even family and friends – always a great last resort and often a first resort. What I’m saying is, free yourself up to make the sale, or, at the very least, ensure that someone is around to facilitate the transactions.
Prep Your Toolkit
A reliable event marketing sales plan needs a toolkit, and you’ll want to prep this in advance. If you need to make sales, but don’t have a POS system set up, you might want to consider Square – which can turn your phone into a point of purchase.
If your focus is on leads, an iPad with a spreadsheet will do. You can also load your favorite email marketing tool (I recommend Mad Mimi – my alma mater) to the device and get fancy.
If you’re hoping to book appointments, again, I recommend a laptop or tablet. Then open up Calendly or your scheduler of choice. You can reserve the spot on the spot, and the app will automatically send the notifications and reminders.
Don’t Forget The Follow-up.
Whether an attendee converted, or whether they didn’t, do your best to stay in touch. I recommend having someone at the exit asking for email addresses. Then your sales don’t have to stop when the evening ends.
Email campaigns are an excellent tool to follow up, but you could go old-school and send a thank you card. The cost is higher, but the impact is greater too. And if you have a sales team, then you can certainly consider an attendee to be somewhat qualified. A call won’t be amiss.
A Sales Plan Makes Event Marketing Effective
I once collaborated on a conference in New York, in which I was a speaker, sponsor, and co-organizer. I bust my ass that day, ensuring the event went off smoothly, and a good time was had by all. But I didn’t have a sales plan. I screwed that up and lost thousands of dollars in missed opportunities.
Don’t miss your opportunity. Make a damn event marketing sales plan.