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Festivals Toolkit: Marketing: Marketing Planning

You need to set up a planning process to get the most out of your marketing strategy.

Elizabeth Hill (2003) in Creative Arts Marketing suggests you take the following four steps to plan your marketing campaign:

Stage 1: Analysis
Why are we here? What are we trying to do? What are our capabilities and constraints?

  • Mission statement & organisational objectives
  • Marketing audit and SWOT analysis

Stage 2: Planning
What is our current position? What are we currently doing? What is our strategy going to be and how we are going to implement it?

  • Marketing objectives and strategies (what?)
  • Marketing tactics (how?)
  • Timescale (when?)

Stage 3: Communication
A written plan of the above which can be communicated to stakeholders and used as a reminder.

  • Preparation of a marketing plan

Stage 4: Action

  • Implementation
  • Monitoring and evaluation

Marketing Planning – Four P’s

The Four P’s help divide marketing into four general sets of activities.  The Four P's were drawn up by E Jerome McCarthy, and have now become universally recognised.

  • Product: The festival and everything that is part of it (such as the location, the people involved and the overall visitor experience) and the extent to which these match what your customers want.
  • Price: What you charge for tickets, car parking, programmes, on site food and drink. The price need not be monetary as it can also refer to what is exchanged for the event attended e.g. in terms of time, energy, attention required of the audience member.
  • Promotion: The actions you take and the marketing tools (i.e. direct marketing, publicity, promotions) that you use to promote the festival and/or individual events to attract visitors to your festival.
  • Place: Refers to how potential customers obtain information about your festival. This invites you to think about a wide range of potential ‘channels’ such as point of sale, box office (location and opening hours) and online sales, through which your festival and events are sold and/or your audience receives information (such as the Tourist Information Office, festival programme or Internet). It also refers to issues such as geographic region (i.e. location) and demographics (which segments you are seeking to attract).

These four elements are often referred to as the marketing mix, which can be used to develop a marketing plan. The simplicity of the four Ps model is not to everyone’s taste and there are more sophisticated marketing approaches but the four Ps offer a memorable and workable guide to the major categories of marketing activity, as well as a framework within which these can be used.

Drawing on this simple framework your first Marketing Plan will still require energy and appropriate time to complete, but in future years you will be able to develop the four P’s more easily and strategically, especially if such changes are supported by research based on a systematic evaluation of past years’ events and focus groups with attendees and non-attendees. It is an evidence base of this sort that enables organisations to contemplate an increase in ticket prices or to change how potential attendees find out about the festival by posting a festival programme to previous year’s customers or getting a flyer about your festival inserted into the local paper rather than relying on customers going to the Tourist Information Office.

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