How to think about large church event promotion

by | Oct 24, 2019 | Strategy

Need to draw a crowd? This week, you’ll walk through how to think about your large event promotion planning and strategy. You’ll see how social plays a roll in the mix that includes other major channels at your fingertips.

You may remember the good old days of Facebook when you could post information about an upcoming church event and reach hundreds of people and have a good turnout. Now you’re seeing decreased engagement and diminished reach because Facebook now prioritizes quality, engaging content from active pages. Even if you’re doing a good job with content and activity, you still face diminished reach.

Your events need a good turnout, however. Right now, the best use for social is to attract church visitors and to engage the wider church community throughout the week. How should you get the word out about all the activities – big and small – that go on?

For you, as a church communicator, this means being strategic. Looking at the event promotion goals first, identifying the audience, and breaking down what communication channels they are most likely tapping into to get information and spend time. If you haven’t come across this before, channels include email, text, postcards, radio ads, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok (yup, TikTok) – where ever you promote your message! 

Let’s look at how this plays out to promote church-wide events and those for smaller groups.

Church-wide event promotion

A church-wide event would be one that invites at least half of the church, or any kind of general outreach event to the community. Examples would be a men’s or women’s conference, church picnic, and most family-oriented events. You’re going for scale here and will want to use the channels that engage the largest number of people. Focusing your efforts where there are larger audiences will give you wider exposure for these large events.

Landing page on your website

Say it together, church: your website is your communications hub. You can easily direct people to get more information on your website, and it’s where people naturally expect to get it without you saying it.

Large events deserve their own page, known as a landing page. They’re called landing pages because that’s where you’ll direct your digital traffic to land, regardless of where they come from. You’ll see with this Vacation Bible School landing page the FFM team created for First Roanoke, in Roanoke, VA, all of the necessary details prioritized throughout the page:

  • Date, time, location at the top;
  • Promotional video and event photos from the previous year;
  • Registration buttons.

Potential attendees’ needs are understood and met by making it easy to find the information they need, quickly, and having extras to get them excited.

Internal communications: announcements, slides, handouts, etc.

Church-wide events deserve attention! Make a point to highlight it during announcements with a 2-minute promotional talk or a video. Whether it’s you or someone else talking, plan out what to say, with the most important piece being the “why” behind the event. Why should people choose to spend their time there, rather than any other opportunities that day? 

Slides and signage serve as great visual reminders and can reinforce your call to action (ex: go to the events page to sign-up). Handouts can help to either provide more information if what you have to communicate is more detailed or as invitations they can keep or share with friends. And this should go without saying, but because this has happened, don’t forget the critical information! Include event name, date, time, location, and where to go for more info. Sure, you don’t want to make this mistake in other areas, but when you spend time and money on printed materials, those mistakes can be costly.

Email newsletter list

Email remains a powerful way to reach and engage your audience. Most churches have a weekly general email that goes out to keep the congregation engaged and encouraged throughout the week.

Know how to leverage your list. You’ll want to send out an email just to announce the event – and nothing else. Highlighting the event name, date, time, location, and where they can get more information ensures that all who open the email can’t miss it. (Also – link back to the landing page!) If you have major milestones with the event (ex: early registration, volunteer sign-up, etc.), you can send out stand-alone emails for these milestones. Be considerate of all of the emails going out, however, so your audience doesn’t get email fatigue.

Later on, you can include reminders or updates within your usual weekly newsletter.

General message texting or app notifications

Pretty much any way you can get a message to someone on their phone should be a part of your event promotion plans! If your church has these capabilities, you can use texting or app notification as quick reminders. With most, you can also include links to any necessary pages (especially if you have a short, mobile-friendly sign-up form). Remember, keep it brief and schedule these to coordinate with your email marketing.

Social media pages – images, videos, and ads

Yup, you’ll still want to promote these Swider events on your main Facebook and Instagram pages. Just because social media has changed, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. Social is where you can get creative and have fun with your promotion. Behind the scenes videos, countdown graphics, and more can entertain, encourage, and educate your audience. Maintain the focus here on the “why” behind your message and the event.

Furthermore, you can use posts with high engagement and turn them into ads, especially for events inviting the wider community. Paid placement pretty much is where the large social media platforms are going, and it’s worth it to set aside a small amount of money to extend the reach of your message.

As you know, social media can be a job unto itself, managing questions and conversations. If you can, recruit someone on staff or a volunteer knowledgeable about the event to help field those questions as they arise so you can keep the “social” in social media.

Make the planning work for you!

Communications and marketing are more art than science. Think of all of this as a framework to start from as you strategize your event promotion planning. Focus on what you need to accomplish and how your audience prefers to get their information. Keep your eyes and ears open and be where your audience is to keep learning!

What about promoting events and activities for individual ministries or groups within your church? What you’ll find about these tools is that with some thought, you can also leverage them to reach smaller audiences involved in specific ministries or groups. Next week we’ll look at how to scale your planning to successfully promote these smaller yet still important events for your church community.

If you’re head is spinning and you feel like your church could use some guidance, the team at Firm Foundations Marketing helps churches just like yours! Learn more here