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Draw a big crowd with event marketing

Spending a little extra time on the marketing end of your event will very likely pay off with more smiling faces in attendance when the event finally rolls around. Photo by Gift Habeshaw courtesy of Unsplash.
Spending a little extra time on the marketing end of your event will very likely pay off with more smiling faces in attendance when the event finally rolls around. Photo by Gift Habeshaw courtesy of Unsplash.

You've announced your event at church worship services and put it in the church bulletin or newsletter. However, when the event actually happens, attendance falls below what you had hoped.

 

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The problem: Most of the time spent planning an event goes into what it will be, how it will operate and other logistics for the day itself. The solution: More time needs to be spent on how you will get people to attend.

If you carve out more time for marketing, more people will have the chance to reap the benefits of your event preparation.

The first step to success is to identify your target audience and the best tools to reach that group. Take advantage of technology, but don't forget old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. 

Here are a few tools to consider:

Create an event on Facebook. If you don't have a Facebook page, create one. Once the Facebook page is in place, you can create an event for your Facebook page. Facebook shows you every step to creating an event. When finished, share the event with your friends and ask them to share the event link with their friends.

Search online networking sites. Search LinkedIn and other online networking sites for groups in your area that might show interest in your church's activities. Join those groups and then post news of your event. Consider posting even when you do not have an event so group members know you want to interact with them.

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Use trade sponsorships. Identify organizations, businesses and media that might help in sharing your message. For instance, a local grocery store may place fliers in their bags. The local radio station might agree to announce your event on air. 

Approach them with a trade opportunity, including details on the benefits they'll receive. In exchange for their promotion assistance, you can recognize them as an event sponsor. Include their logo on printed materials such as fliers, event programs, signage. Include them in online mentions on your website and social media. Also be sure to acknowledge their support at your event. 

After an event, follow up with a thank-you letter. Provide a list of ways you connected their organization’s name to your event for their records. If you have impact stories from the event, share one or two to let them know what they helped make possible.

Establish recruitment rewards. Your best marketers are the people who are already involved in your church. Create incentive awards for them to bring other people to the event.

Go to your community friends. Community centers, apartment complexes, churches and other places people congregate in your area offer excellent marketing resources. Because most of the groups have their own events to promote, they may be willing to share details of your event (in a newsletter, a flier or next meeting) in exchange for your sharing news of their event with your congregation.

Don't forget other events. Include information about other upcoming activities at every event. Ask attendees for contact information to let them know about future activities. With that information, compile a database and use that to help promote your next event.

Remember that the event itself is not the end of the marketing process. At the beginning of each event, ask participants to complete a brief survey about what drew them to your event. List every marketing effort you used. Include a field to list who invited them. (This person may prove to be someone to recruit as a volunteer.) Provide a category of "other," with space for general comments.

Identifying a few unexpected ways to reach people may boost participation. By implementing some of these steps, you may find yourself adding a few extra chairs at the next event.