How Mentioning Your Easter Event From The Stage In Adult Services Kills Attendance (And What To Do Instead.)
Well. That’s a controversial title isn’t it? I have often fought to have every event that the Children’s Ministry hosts be blasted from the rafters in the “big room.” It always seemed like to me it was a lack of respect that was being shown to the ministry, and in a round about way, myself and the volunteers. It really would grind my gears as I would plan and prepare and then get no love in that space, which if you are anything like me, happened to be the most important place to plug things. It got to the point that I began to wonder if their were alternatives. I realized that a lot of the problem was actually my own pride and that if I were willing to put in the work, I could leverage this seemingly huge setback into an even bigger opportunity.
What I began to realize is that in kid min, many of us become addicted to having our stuff announced because it takes a lot of the pressure and work of advertising off of our own shoulders. If you want to go even deeper into it, for me, it was a box I liked to check. It would get me off of the advertisement hook with my senior leader if attendance was poor because they were the one who advertised it to the congregation. I had grown complacent. The ugly truth was that I really just wanted that space to announce that I had created something awesome and everyone needed to pay attention to it. I don’t know if you fall into this category too, or if you are all just better Christ followers than I am, but something needed to change.
Complacency kills and it was killing attendance. I realized that I was completely reliant on the folks sitting in the pews to hand out the invite cards and also attend themselves. If they didn’t, attendance was going to be down the drain. I had effectively sabotaged my own attendance numbers by solely relying on the big room.
I set out to create a new system for how I could advertise events to larger groups of people than what happened on Sunday, while also hitting folks at a higher rate that were unchurched, or de-churched folks. Here is the system I have used several times that actually increased attendance at every anchor event throughout the year. I hope you can use this system to increase attendance and better promote your Easter Events this year!
I know this seems obvious, but especially for large events that happen throughout the year (VBS, Easter, Fall Events, Christmas, etc) you will want to start as early as possible getting the machine going. It takes the average person seeing some up to 9 times before it actually registers fully the date, time, location, and other major details of an event. Let alone see of the important, but smaller details to pay attention to. This is all the more reason to start early. For VBS and Easter, I always start 3 months in advance getting dates out the door and details. A few fun ways to do this are: throwing a reveal party on Facebook Live for dates, times, theme, etc. Throw a real party after services on a Sunday in which you invite families for dessert, having a pep rally during small group/Sunday school times for the kids to announce what is happening. This is a fun event to invite parents to through email and texting a week, or two in advance.
However you choose to start getting the initial information out, do it as soon as possible! Everyone likes to be able to mark their calendars and know when major things are going down.
2. Go Into Your Local Community
One of the important things that often gets talked about in meetings is how we can engage our community with our events. We plan on how to entice new guests to attend and how we can (hopefully) entice them to stay. An important aspect we often forget; however, is that we have the ability to actually go into the community to advertise. Coffee shops, VFW’s, libraries, restaurants, schools, book stores, anywhere people visit regularly are all amazing opportunities to partner with to spread the news about your ministry and events. Obviously not all of them will allow you to advertise, but with a little bit of phone work and even visiting the different locations, you can identify many local places that would love to have a paper, or card hanging in their establishment. I once had a Chuckie Cheese agree to allow me to place a sign near their front counter and it resulted in 9 new families attending an event.
Please. Don’t neglect the community. Fear of a “no” is not an excuse to simply throw away the idea that you couldn’t get the word out about the amazing opportunity you and your team have created. Make sure and do a little bit of good old fashioned pavement pounding.
3. Email Influencers Within Your Church to Advertise In Their Sphere Of Influence
Being uncomfortable is one of my least favorite things in the world. I hate being a burden and it makes me incredibly uncomfortable to think I could ever inconvenience someone else. However, I have realized over the years that I have done podcasts and worked in churches that people are often more willing than you would think to help you out. One of the first things I do when I come into a new church, or ministry is note the people of importance around the group. Whether they have a traditionally important career (doctors, lawyers, principals, etc.) or if they have influence through social media; I write their names down and make sure to buy them coffee in my first few months. These are people who wield influence and people already follow. God gives each of us gifts and talents to use within the church and it is something I often think about when it comes to promotion. Making a phone call, paying for coffee, or talking privately at church are all ways to get the ball rolling.
This is a largely missed opportunity to get word out. Strike up the Pied Pipers in your church and watch them work. It is one of the greatest things to see God work through the talents of other people to grow God’s Kingdom.
4. Social Media Advertising
I know you have been waiting for this one. Probably the largest change in marketing to happen since the invention of the television with t.v. marketing has been the rise of social media. Seth Godin, acclaimed New York Times best seller and author of the book, “Purple Cow” has spoken often of the power that can be found in targeted advertising through social media. However, I know this sounds incredibly intimidating. I will give you a few quick pointers that will jump start you. Never forget that you have others on staff you can ask that may have more experience with this than you do as well as congregation members who run businesses who are swimming in this world.
The first thing you should do is throw away the idea of simply having the graphic you created for the event be the post you advertise. Statistics given by Facebook show that videos between 60-90 seconds long have the most impact when running advertising. I know. You aren’t a professional videographer. However, noted social media entrepreneur and business man Gary Vaynerchuk say all the time that raw and real are in. Take your phone, use a spider tripod (or prop it up against your stack of book on the desk) and hit record. Tell the audience date, time, place, and why. This may take some practice to get the pitch to 90 seconds, but with a few quick takes it can be done.
if you Google how to set up a Facebook ad, it will take you step-by-step through the technical process of how to do this. However, my final tip for you would be to really think through who you want your target audience to be. I usually set my target audience to females between the ages of 25-40 within the city I work in. This puts a pretty good and narrow field for Facebook to work with. My reasoning is that most of the time, it is mothers who are driving what happens for fun events and often are more drawn to events at church. The age range is because those are the typical ranges for moms with children in preschool and elementary school.
However you choose to advertise your events, make sure that you are not becoming complacent with overusing the adult services. Start early, go local, talk to people within your church who have influence, and utilize social media to achieve maximum impact. I hope that you can use this system to great success in advertising for your Easter Event! Let me know if you have any other ways to advertise and promote events that you find effective as well!