Your event is booked, guest speaker is committed, you have a schedule planned... Now how do you get people signed up? Event marketing is usually one area that people forget to plan out all the way.
The easiest way to tackle event marketing is to start early. Panic marketing 2 weeks before your event is rarely successful. Plan out the major details of your event. Goals, location, guest speaker, band, dates, etc... Think about how most of your attendees would most likely respond and later commit to attending your event. (E-mail, Worship Service Announcements, Special Meetings, Phone Calls, Direct Mail...) Create materials accordingly. Create a mechanism for people to immediately respond that they are interested and commit financially to attend.
Here are a couple effective methods for catching people's attention and presenting information about your event...
- Send/Pass-out Printed Materials (Posters, Fliers, Event Packets)
- E-mail invitations (3-4 pre-event newsletters that contain a way for people to respond & show interest)
- Personal Phone calls or face to face conversations inviting people to attend; seems like a big time commitment, and somewhat antiquated in our technology driven world, but it is a sincere & meaningful way to invite people.
- Start a sermon series at home & finish it on retreat
- Preview bands & speakers at home before going on retreat
- Offer an early registration discount
- ALWAYS have a method for people to respond and commit to attending.
For example, your church youth group is planning a summer camp at Lake Williamson. You make announcements in church, ask the students to put their name on a sign up clip board you pass around during announcements if they're interested in attending, and send youth home with a flier or packet for their parents. You have brought it to their attention, gotten them to respond, and supplemented the announcement with more information for their parents. In your weekly announcement e-mail include more information about the event and links to registration materials. Later hold a parents meeting, answer questions, and allow parents to sign up and leave a deposit for their student's trip before they leave.
One of the easiest excuses for not attending an event is "I don't have the money." While that is a fair and honest answer many people could possibly be able to attend if they could pay for the retreat in three payments instead of all at once. I would encourage every ministry to set a side some money in their event budget for scholarships for people to be able to attend their event. Also consider a fundraiser, this is not only a great way to pay the bills but a good way to start building camaraderie among the group of people who will attend.
In the example above about the youth group, the possible attendee was presented information and was able to respond, then commit.
For your group you may want to consider using something free like a Facebook event, send invitations, and gather commitments online. There are tons of different companies that allow you to do online sign-ups for events. People fill in forms online and pay by credit card. Search for Online Event Registration and see if that is a method that will work for your group. If not, good old paper and pen work just as well.
What ways have you promoted your event?