Marketing a venue is a whole different ball game than promoting a product or service; venues serve as the backdrop of an event and clients seek out a space they can envision in their memories for years to come. However, they don’t know everything about the space like you — chances are there are some tips and tricks you’ve learned that could influence their decision. You have to paint the picture for people and create a vision in their minds of how it will feel to celebrate in the space. They want to feel connected, as if the space was created just for them, and you can achieve this through creative storytelling and enhanced site visits.
This year, COVID has made it even more challenging to get people through the door. Although this goes for all specialties across the industry, it’s especially difficult for venues as in-person visits are so critical for closing a sale. Now, venues need to become innovative and find new, modern ways to reach prospects and sell the benefits of the space.
Here are a few ways to ramp up your marketing and effectively fill your venue.
Start producing video content
If you’re not thinking about video (especially live content), you’re missing out. Video marketing is the best way to tell the story of your venue in a dynamic and attention-grabbing way. Whether your audience is on Instagram or Facebook, start experimenting with live videos to give your viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the property and all it has to offer.
Sell benefits, not features
We love to talk about the features of our venues—the outdoor ceremony space, the getting ready suite, the reception site—but our clients care more about the benefits they’ll get from the space. While a list of everything your property has to offer is certainly helpful, you should position them more as valuable benefits that set you apart from competitors. A property with both indoor and outdoor spaces is great, but it means more when you can tell clients that they don’t need to worry about weather-related concerns.
Respond to inquiries strategically
Nowadays, most inquiries come through our inbox, so our email response strategies are crucial to continuing a relationship. In your response, address them by name, answer every question they’ve asked, and provide an opportunity to do a virtual walkthrough. (If you don’t have this already, start there — virtual walkthroughs are a must in today’s world, especially in a post-pandemic landscape).
Then, end every response with a strong call-to-action. Instead of “let me know if you have any questions,” be straightforward and ask them: “Do you want to book an onsite tour?” This gives you control of the conversation and makes their decision easier. Last but not least, include a video in your response if you can. Not everyone has the bandwidth for this, but it can really enhance your replies if you can implement it.
Enhance the onsite visit
When prospective clients visit a property, they expect a personal tour and some time to ask questions. However, if you can go beyond these expectations and offer a little more, you’ll make it clear that you value their time and will be more memorable. It’s as simple as offering a glass of champagne (or hot cocoa when it’s chilly!) or a spread of snacks. Of course, you’ll want to be mindful of how it’s served in terms of COVID, but with the right precautions, you can elevate the experience safely and effectively.
At the end of the tour, provide your prospects with helpful materials they can take home. This is not intended to be a sales brochure; instead, you want to send them home with useful resources that will help them in their planning. A wedding planning checklist, a guide to selecting a venue, or a list of unique vendors are all great ideas. Add your logo and contact information to these resources and you’re good to go. When your prospects are at home reviewing their materials, they’ll identify your brand as an expert in the industry and you’ll remain top-of-mind while they mull over their decision.
Go beyond weddings
A great wedding venue is simply a great venue — plain and simple. If you’re limiting your clientele to engaged couples, you’re missing out on a large portion of the market. Corporate and social events can bring in increased revenue and they’re often scheduled for weekdays, so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing your weekend wedding business.
Think about your values and goals for the next several years and let yourself imagine a future beyond booking only weddings. For example, our venue, Open Heart Ranch, is committed to conservation of land, animals, and water. Outside of weddings, we welcome public events that align with our sustainability goals: pet adoptions, environmental fundraisers, auctions for charity, and other philanthropic endeavors all fall within our values. Consider how you can open your property up to your community to build trust and adhere to your core values.
When it all boils down, marketing your venue is simply about creating a vision in your prospects’ minds of their dream celebrations. This must be done through multiple touchpoints, from your email responses to your social media posts to your onsite visits. Your leads will look at their experience as a reflection of their future guests’ experience, so pull out all the stops and continue presenting all of the benefits and value your property has to offer.