Your event is booked, guest speaker is committed, you have a schedule planned... Now how do you get people signed up?
Event marketing can be one area that people forget or think they don't need to plan through. With this misconception leaders are then shocked a week before their event when their numbers are only half of what they dreamed of. But don't fear, that's where this blog comes in; if you only remember one thing remember this...you can never start marketing too early!
Plan the major details of your event. Goals, location, dates, guest speaker, band, etc...Think about how most of your attendees would most likely respond and later commit to attending your event.
Create materials accordingly. Create a mechanism for people that are interested to immediately respond and commit financially to attend. (E-mail, Worship Service Announcements, Special Meetings, Phone Calls, Direct Mail)
Catch their attention! Here are few ways to grab your potential attendees:
- Send/Pass-out Printed Materials - Posters, Fliers, Event Packets
- E-mail Invitations - Three to four pre-event newsletters with sneak peaks & of course a way to respond when they want to sign up
- Personal Phone Calls or Face to Face - this can be a big time commitment, and sometimes viewed as an antiquated method in our technology driven world, but it is a sincere & meaningful way to invite people
- Start a sermon series at home & finish it on road
- Preview bands & speakers at home - giving them that sneak peak look to build up anticipation for the off-site event. If a band has a fan base, really promote them to nab their following as attendees at your event.
- Offer an early registration discount - helps with the financial strain and gives you a realistic look at the numbers
- ALWAYS have a method for people to respond and commit to attending
Here is a good example:
Your 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 board that you've passed around during Sunday School to see if they're interested in attending. You then send every youth home with a flier or packet for their parents to look at. 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. See if your ministry, or the church as a whole, can set aside some money in their event budget for scholarships. Also consider a fund raiser, 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.
Reality is...we are dealing with youth! They are consumed by technology, internet, the cloud, and other online networks. So here are some more tech based ideas to help you communicate with them and even their parents:
- Facebook events
- Twitter feeds and hashtags
- Online websites & blogs
- Online registration sites
- Allowing youth and parents to communicate through email and/or text can help more attendees sign up sooner instead of putting it off because you are playing 'voicemail tag' or they miss your designated office hours