wedding-decorWhether you are marketing your venue full-time or whether acquiring new venue clients only forms part of your list of daily tasks, there are countless fresh marketing ideas you could make use of. The question I would like to ask you today is whether you are making full use of all your marketing opportunities or are you missing some amazing opportunities while you stick to the same old strategy?

Just like with the rest of your organisational marketing, the key to a great marketing strategy is a combination of great visuals, user-friendly web content and clear, catchy language. If marketing your venue is not your full-time job, don’t get discouraged though—this exercise is a great opportunity for you to start understanding your client’s perspective better. So, read on below and let me show you 7 practical ways to market your venue.

1.  Put yourself in your clients’ shoes

Let’s face it, in the digital age, we look for all kinds of ways to simplify processes. This includes shopping around for venues. Of course you want to visit your chosen venue in person to ensure you’re getting what you pay for, but who has time to shop around anymore? Especially if your event is in a different city, province or country. The problem with our industry is that many of the factors that make your venue unique is intangible. This is where you need to sit down and transform these aspects into tangible ideas. Is it the vibe of the late-night live band that sets you apart from the rest? Is it the exquisite sunsets over the river that makes your venue unique? Is it the people or the community that adds to your wow-factor?  Under no circumstances should you rely purely on your generic ‘about’ statement, draft a brief summary to communicate these ‘intangibles’ to your potential clients. To them it matters just as much (if not more) than the facilities, size, and technical aspects of the venue.

2.  Your website is likely going to be your client’s first impression of the venue, impress NOW

As mentioned, people tend to go through their initial elimination process online. That means your website may very well be your first opportunity to impress. Disappoint at this point and you likely lose your potential client on the spot. Therefore, make sure you have all the necessary information readily available and be as user-friendly as possible. You’d be surprised how far this first step can take you.

3.  Your online gallery should be just as good, if not better, than a site visit

Think of the photos you have of your venue as a site visit. What would you like to show potential clients if they were taking a tour of your venue. Wait, let’s make this more interesting—what would be the key elements you would present to a potential client if they showed up out of the blue and gave you ten minutes to make a sale? I put it like this, because this focuses your attention on the unique selling points, the things that you know for a fact makes people stop and say “wow”. That’s the industry we’re in after all, we strive for the wow-factor. So, depending on the type of venue you have, decide which amenities and other spaces you want to highlight. For example, photos of the building, entrance, and signage help a potential client with where they (and their guests) will be arriving. Photos of the changes in lighting from day to night are very useful and although this might come as a surprise, it’s also useful to include a photo or two of the bathrooms. When trying to attract new clients, cast your net for visuals much wider than your typical past event and empty space photograph.

4. Provide a virtual tour.

This might seem like a gimmick more than a must-have feature on your website, but believe me when I say that it does a lot to sell a venue. Not only because it gives your potential client a more realistic view of the venue, but also because it shows you mean business, your a valued competitor in your field and you’re proud to show off your product. Presentation is key.

The approach you need to take if you do decide to do a virtual tour is to answer the very basic questions of marketing – who, what, how, when and finally, why renting this space is an excellent experience. Understand what your prime prospect’s experience is when looking for a venue and identify any barriers you can remove to make that experience better. With this approach you’ll start to field more clients in no time.

5.  Ensure your rates are easily accessible, updated and detailed

One of the most common missed opportunities I’ve found on venue websites is that they make the mistake of not publishing their rates. Venue rates are one of the most important determining factors when choosing your venue. In a very competitive market, this is ultimately how they narrow down their options. Don’t try and simplify things by simply publishing “Please phone for rates”. Communicate your rates in a strategic manner, remember that a sliding scale of rates is to be expected, but it is helpful for both your potential client and the venue manager to know the starting point going in. After all, it’s more beneficial for you to target the correct market (budget-wise), than to lose referrals due to an assumption that you’re too expensive or to a competitor that has published rates.

6.  Share availability if possible

So now let’s say your potential client has shortlisted your venue and is looking at the last few determining factors to make a final decision, but now they make the call or take the drive out to your venue and none of the dates they have picked is available. This doesn’t happen once or twice either, it’s a serious pain point for anyone who has ever organised an event. Here’s the kicker though, although very few people see it as such, it is an amazing marketing opportunity that could set you apart from your competitors. A calendar is thus a great way to visually represent availability to your clients and there are countless online tools that could help you do this for free. This is one of the most inexpensive marketing tactics you could use to get more targeted leads and bookings.

7.  Testimonials help, but big names sell

If you’ve hosted the likes of First Rand Limited, Comair, EOH or Barloworld, make sure you share this information (where appropriate). Potential clients like the idea that a high profile company used your space. It acts as an invaluable testimonial and does more for your brand than the 30 John Doe’s who reviewed your venue on Facebook with simple statements such as “Great.

So there you have it, how you can improve the marketing of your venue in 7 easy steps.