5-Stage Marketing Plan for Festivals

It's easy to get caught up in the 2022 festival fever. No wonder.

Restrictions have lifted, festivals are on schedule, and tickets will be moving easier than usual. But this “return of festival season” comes with high expectations. More importantly, it comes with an unprecedented level of fan excitement that is ripe to capitalize on.

Turning out your festival this year may seem like a tall order to fill, but we’ve got you covered.

Here's a 5-stage festival marketing plan so that you can:

  • Tap into the right audiences
  • Optimize your time
  • Future proof your festival, and of course,
  • Put on an incredible fan experience.


This stage is all about creating “concentrated buzz”. Let fans’ natural energy and hype around your upcoming festival carry you with targeted engagement opportunities to “fuel the fire.” Lean into organic content - after all, it’s been 2 years and fans are driven to be part of the experiences they were previously barred from.

As part of your outreach strategy, use interactive contests and activations to engage fans and build up your audience.

Drop teasers like “stay tuned…” and “we’ve got a big announcement coming..” directly into the inboxes and social feeds of your segmented audiences. Fans responding will contribute using waitlists, engagement campaigns and contests so you know exactly what messages resonate with what audience. You have mountains of historical data - make your data work for you.

Contesting Tip for 2022: UGC (User Generated Content) is an incredible amplifier of “hype” when used correctly. Give fans an incentivized opportunity to share content that connects to your festival, then build their content into your organic plan.

The result? Mounds of content made by fans, for fans. Not only will you nudge others to amplify the “brand” behind your festival as they jump on board, but a side effect is fans pushing an agenda of “FOMO,” creating urgency for your tickets. Plus, it’s authentic - which is hard to put a price on.

The best part? These activations kill two birds with one stone; as you rile up fan excitement, you will also be bolstering your first-party database. And with 2022 being the final year before the “pixel apocalypse,” there is no better time than now to run these engagement campaigns


Lineup time! The make or break in the festival world.

Now that you have fans bubbling in “anticipation”, keep that momentum going and build moments for engagement around your lineup to garner further leads. Use “Lineup Predictors” and Personalized Playlists as teasers & “fit” detectors.

Spread the word out about who is performing across your desired channels and play around with your promotional spread, pairing organic and paid across mediums, co-branded moments, and merchandising. And with the younger generation transferring into more niche and personal channels such as Discord and Reddit, don't be afraid to experiment with new forms of media.

Build on your strategies from the “anticipate” stage and fill fan inboxes, SMS and social feeds with relevant content. Your fans love to see content about their favourite artists, so make sure to give them direct notifications and ads on the artists they really bought the tickets for. Personalization pushes conversions.

Pro Tips:

  • As you continue to sell tickets throughout your “Discover” phase, optimize your conversions by ensuring that channel, intent and offer are aligned for each advertising campaign you push.
    • When a fan converts, you can align other offers (merchandising, experience upsells, sponsor promotions) the same way.
  • Direct-to-fan is huge in 2022. In your anticipate stage, work to collect opt-ins so that you can reach fans without relying on a middleman (i.e. socials) to get your message across.
    • The holy-grail moment will be when you can segment fans by real affinity (based on streaming behaviour + shared zero-party data), then send them a quick, easy, and targeted SMS message for them to get tickets & convert.

Stage 3: PLAN

Communication with fans shouldn’t stop at a sellout. Your biggest “marketing opportunity” is the experience you leave with fans throughout their entire journey with you - from on-sale, through event day and after. And it’s the smaller details that make all the difference.

With that in mind, there is no reason to make fans wait to buy all the festival extras. This is a great time to prioritize pre-buys for merch or drink packages. Whatever you’re selling, fans want their hands on it. Early pre-buys give fans peace of mind on event day knowing they secured what they wanted and can lower operations for you on event day. Win-win!

As the day approaches, fans will want to start planning out how they will spend every minute at your festival based on your schedule. Lean into that “mini-fest” mantra by giving fans tools to curate their own schedules based on the artists they want to see and the people they want to experience it with.

We all know, festivals are for friends and the “human experience”. Promote your festival schedule via your own branded assets and get fans to create their schedules with their friends. Encourage fans to post, share, hashtag, and tag you with the schedule they built, while marking down insights around which artist affinities seem to overlap.

This is another way to achieve more awareness for less effort and spend on your part, while keeping the fans super pumped up and engaged. Keep that excitement going!

Pro Tip:

Just like communication, data collection’s greatest value comes with a continuous stream of interactions.

This means tracking the before, the after, and the during of your event.

Investing in infrastructure that can help you incentivize & track fan purchases and movements on the ground changes the game when it comes to your logistics. A strong understanding of fan movement and buying behaviour will allow you to make adjustments to current and future events and gives you an intelligence edge over your competitors.

Stage 4: EXECUTE

Finally, it’s here! While there is still work to be done, take a moment to appreciate all the work in the previous stages that will pay off today. The goal is for fans to have an unforgettable experience.

Fans will need to be extra-informed this year. They need to know where to be, how to get there, changes in schedules, and of course, fans need to be kept in the loop on any surprise bonus acts. This means that content and direct notifications need to keep going on event day.

To heighten their experience, send them personalized suggestions of experiences, or merch offerings right after that artist’s set is over. Or, give VIPs exclusive info on surprise bonus acts or other exclusive experiences.

A powerful tool to leverage is press coverage. Use your media connections to promote why your festival is special. Showcase your festival's authentic experience with real, happy fans captured on screen.

Finally, let's talk about that all-important data collection. New tech such as RFID has made leaps and bounds over the years and is an amazing way to track in-venue behaviour. Even older technology such as coupons can be modernized to zero in on fan behaviour.

The point is that you should be tracking your fans on event day, in whatever way you can. This will pay off in deeper reporting to offer to sponsors as a selling point and will provide your team with some spectacular insights.

Stage 5: EXTEND

Rinse, Repeat and Extend

And just like that, the festival has come and gone and you’re once again at the “anticipate” stage. The beauty is that all your efforts this year will keep you going and set you up for next year. Use all the data, insights, and audiences captured from this and past years to propel you towards higher reach and more success next year.

We’re talking bigger, better, and selling out even faster. The name of the game is to have a multi-year plan that spans a minimum of 2-5 years. This means having the petal to the metal with your fan engagement and never letting fans forget about the amazing time they had. The goal is to build a sense of fear of missing out as this helps drive ticket sales for next year's festival.

Use this time between festivals to foster your online communities for fans to interact with each other. Pump out your UGC bank, and your owned media from the festival throughout the year to trigger excitement & nostalgia. Work on building your brand message, and making it speak for itself. When fans say “I’m going to ‘so-and-so’ festival, what feeling do you want that to invoke?

Finally, take a moment to celebrate your resiliency in another rollercoaster of a year and look back on what you can improve on for next year. It’ll be here before you know it.

Enjoy the read? We’ve got more! You can join our newsletter where we dive into all things fan marketing.

~ Happy Marketing!


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