Ok, you decided to do it…
You’re hosting an event for your brand, business, or product and now… it’s time to build an event marketing strategy around it so people actually show up.
The question is, is marketing your event the same as marketing your services, products, or offers?
Well… yes and no.
An event marketing strategy is a bit different than a ‘regular’ content marketing strategy, launch strategy, or social media strategy. Your event marketing can be focused on a few things:
- Filling the virtual or in-person room with people who purchase tickets
- Filling the space with qualified leads who will make a purchase after the event
- Or just making sure that the event goes as smoothly as possible (which, if you’ve ever hosted an event before… sometimes, things just happen and you have to roll with it)
In this blog post, we’re going to walk through an event marketing strategy for your retreat – whether you’ve planned a business retreat, personal retreat, or community retreat for your audience.
Let’s dive in!
What is event marketing?
Event marketing is a marketing strategy to promote your brand, business, product, or service with an in-person or online get-together.
As a business owner, brand, or thought leader you can either participate in events as a speaker, host, co-host, participant, or sponsor.
How does event marketing help your brand and business?
- You can increase brand awareness and loyalty
- Build a deeper connection with your audience or clients
- Increase engagement with your people
- Generate more leads for your services, offers, or products
- Educate people on your services, offers, or products
- Or even upsell your current clients into an exclusive experience or offer
Really, what’s NOT to love about event marketing?!
We do want to be clear that there are 2 sides of event marketing that end up being interchangeable whenever you’re looking up information:
- Event marketing as a MARKETING STRATEGY to do all the above. This usually involves planning, hosting, and marketing an event as a brand activation campaign for more people to get to know your business.
- Marketing an event as a STANDALONE offer. This means that you’ve decided to host an event, workshop, or retreat and you want to use a certain type of marketing (event marketing) to get people registered for your engagement.
In this blog post, just to be clear, we’ll be talking about marketing your retreat to get people to register!
Want to host your own event for increased brand awareness and deeper connection with your audience and clients? Read our blog post on 4 types of branded events to include in your marketing strategy
Building anticipation for your retreat
After you’ve decided the date of your retreat and when tickets will be available, it’s time to start planning and building anticipation for your retreat.
This is what we like to call the ‘pre-launch’ phase of any launch or event. During this phase of your event marketing strategy, here’s what to keep in mind:
- When will you start building anticipation and teasing about your event? (You don’t want to tease too soon, nor do you want to tease too late!)
- What will you be sharing to build anticipation about the event? (Do you have special guests, speakers, prizes and gifts, the location, etc.)
- How will you get your community involved in the pre-launch marketing of your retreat? (Is there a way for people to help you market? Do you have collaborators that can share? Could you create a contest?)
- Where will you be marketing about your retreat? (Will you first share to VIP clients and community members via email, a membership, social media… somewhere else?)
- What’s the purpose of your retreat and why should people attend? (Really, this should be the first question to answer – make sure you’re clear on this because people might not really care about ‘guest speakers’ at your retreat and really want community!)
Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, you have the strategy to start planning and moving your event marketing strategy into tangible tasks, milestones, and objectives!
*PRO TIP: Depending on if your event is in-person, online, requires travel logistics for your attendees, or something else – the timeline of when you start building anticipation for your retreat will change.
Getting people registered for your retreat
This part is one of our favorites when it comes to event marketing strategy, especially for a retreat that you’re planning for your business!
The goal of this phase of event marketing is to have your people retreat for the retreat, whether that looks like:
- Making their security deposit for the retreat
- Registering for the retreat waitlist
- Or even securing their spot by paying in full for the retreat
There are a lot of different ways to approach your event marketing, which depends on what you have planned for your event.
Curious to know about digital events and how they can help boost your brand awareness? Read our blog post on how to incorporate more digital events into your marketing strategy.
For example, for The Quirky Pineapple Studio’s VIPiña Brand Retreat we hosted in Toledo, Spain in 2023 – we used a mix of strategies to get people registered. Here’s an example of what we did:
- We started a waitlist in the pre-launch phase of the retreat and then sent out personalized email invitations and reminders for folks on the waitlist (the people who expressed the most interest)
- We sent out personal invitations to past clients that we loved working with, inviting them to join the retreat
- We shared about the retreat on social media and through email marketing
- We teased the itinerary slowly, sharing bits and pieces throughout this phase
- And when people registered, we asked them to share about it on their social channels
All of these event marketing strategies helped us get people signed up and asking questions about the retreat, to see if it was a good fit for them!
Other ideas you can use to marketing your retreat or event during this stage is:
- Share countdown timers for when early bird and regular tickets start and end
- Tease speakers slowly, so people can see the event line-up
- Share sneak peeks of the retreat venue and the location
- Highlight community members as they register for the retreat, so people know who to expect
- Share about the benefits of the retreat (eg: networking with like-minded people, being in community, and making connections)
*PRO TIP: We prefer to highlight WHO people will meet during the retreat and WHAT they’ll learn and how they can implement it into their own businesses or lives. Instead of relying on ‘big name’ speakers for your retreat or event, focus on the unique value your brand provides already!
Event marketing coverage during the retreat
Now that you’ve got people registered for your retreat – don’t forget to have event marketing coverage DURING the retreat or event!
Most retreat hosts and businesses are focused on delivering the content and hosting that having event marketing coverage often gets put on the back burner – rightfully so, because you want to be present with the people who decided to join you for a few days!
But, this part of your event marketing strategy is just as important. If you’re able to, we recommend outsourcing this portion to make sure that you can be fully present with your people and someone else can take care of documenting the entire experience!
Some service-providers you can hire during your event (or if you have a team member that can help with this):
- Photographer for your event (if you don’t hire anyone else, PLEASE hire a photographer so you have high quality photos of your event to use for marketing the next one)
- Videographer for your event (if you know you plan on hosting more retreats in the future, a videographer can be a great addition to your event coverage so you have professional videos of the retreat AND of client testimonials)
- Content creator for the event (another important role – having a content creator during your retreat can be extremely helpful, someone who can capture social media content for you to share across your social channels as the event plays out)
If you’re thinking you’ll do event coverage on your own or at least take care of some of it, here are some important shots to have so you can create marketing materials after the fact:
- Candid photos of everyone at the retreat
- Images of the venue and everyone in it
- Any materials that you’ll be using or reviewing
- Group photos
- Photos of YOU in your hosting element
- Meals together or other activities
- Separate images or headshots of each attendee
- Images of welcome gifts
And, of course, we couldn’t forget about the video content (because video is really reigning supreme across social media these days):
- Guest arrival and departure
- First meals together
- Communal activities
- What the venue looks like
- Behind the scenes of people working or being together
- Short testimonials from each guest
- B-roll footage of you in action (hosting, teaching, greeting, etc.)
*PRO TIP: Don’t forget to ask attendees to also share and tag you across social media during their time at the retreat or event! This creates awesome user-generated content (UGC) that you can use later on for your social media, marketing materials, or something else! It also gives people who didn’t join this time around a perspective from the other attendees.
Don’t forget post-event marketing
That’s a wrap for your (very) successful retreat or event – CONGRATULATIONS!
What a rush of emotions. What a heartwarming experience. Gosh… in-person is just different than virtual… isn’t it?
Usually after large events like this, we see our clients totally hermit up and get much needed rest after such a large energetic push… and we get it!
But, before you do that, don’t forget the post-event marketing! By the way, we believe this should be planned WAY ahead when you’re planning the anticipation and pre-launch marketing for your event, so it’s all scheduled out and ready (hello, sustainable marketing).
In the post-event marketing stage, this is what we like to call the event follow-up – for people who attended AND for the people who didn’t attend but now totally want to after they’ve seen your event marketing coverage.
Why is this important? You don’t want to leave people hanging after they’ve just spent time with you in-person… this is usually when they feel most connected to your brand and business, and where you can turn them into a loyal client!
So let’s break down what you need for the post-event marketing stage – for the people who attended and the people who didn’t:
- Have a follow-up email to send to retreat attendees – you can include an official thank you, feedback or testimonial form, and share any additional materials with them (eg: retreat photos)
- Share official event marketing materials – when you have official photos from your photographer or official video footage from your videography, start sharing that on your social media channels (eg: testimonial videos, carousel posts, recaps, etc.)
- Open up spots to the next event for people who weren’t able to attend – this is the PERFECT time to get folks to submit a deposit for your next retreat because they’ve seen all the greatness that you just had. Send out the information if you have it ready!
- Ask people to share their experience – you can ask your retreat attendees to share their experience on social media after they’ve arrived home (or you can even share about their experience in email newsletters, blog recaps, or case studies)
We gottaaaaa stress that this part is JUST important as the ‘anticipation’ for your retreat because you don’t want to build something amazing and then *poof* there’s no follow-up.
*PRO TIP: This stage of your event marketing strategy shouldn’t be saved for last when you’re planning. We recommend planning the post-event marketing alongside the pre-launch marketing stage, so everyone on your team knows exactly what to do before, during, and after the retreat.
TL;DR? Yeah, event marketing strategy is a lot!
Too long to read the whole thing? We got you – here’s a quickie breakdown of what an event marketing strategy entails for your next retreat, brand activation campaign, or event (whether that’s virtual or in-person)!
- Build anticipation for your event. Decide on important factors like when you’ll start marketing, what your community is most interested in, and where you’ll be marketing about your retreat.
- Get people registered for your event. Now that you’ve built the anticipation, time to get people excited to JOIN your retreat. What mediums are you using to get people registered for your retreat? And what will you be sharing about your retreat to get people even more excited to join?
- Event time, make sure you get event coverage. Make a game plan for all the type of media coverage you’ll have during your retreat or event. You might want to hire a photographer, videographer, or content creator to help you, so you can focus on supporting your clients!
- PLEASE, don’t forget post-event marketing. AKA the follow-up after the retreat! Having a post-event follow-up strategy is just as important as the anticipation stage (which, btw, we recommend planning this stage from the beginning of your event marketing strategy). How are you following-up with people who joined your retreat AND the folks who didn’t but were interested?
We just want to share that planning and hosting an event for your brand is no easy feat and does require a lot of work, energy, and time – but the pay off is amazing because you’ve created a deeper connection with your audience!
So, what do you say? Who’s ready to plan an event and market it?
>> If you’re looking for support with your event marketing strategy, let’s get on a 30min call to see if we’re a good fit. We’ve planned our own branded events, retreats, and workshops in English and Spanish around the world! We’ve also supported our clients to help them market challenges, webinars, course launches, and more.