Most churches wish they had more people attending their events. Unfortunately, despite announcing events from their pulpit, website, church calendar, Facebook page, and bulletin, participation often remains lower than desired. However, the problem is typically not that the event isn’t worthwhile, but that there’s been poor communication, promotion, and marketing. And that’s a cryin’ shame! So here are some tips to help you go beyond the basics and increase your church event attendance:

1. Smarter email

Your email list is probably your most valuable tool for promoting events to your flock. There is a reason that the most valuable marketing resource for nearly every brand or business is their email list — because it works (if you use it well)! It’s the most basic and direct communication channel you have to every member in your organization. The problem is that a lot of churches have not done a good job of capturing and building their email list OR they have not traditionally done a very good job using the email addresses they do have. Flocknote specializes in helping churches do all of that and more!

2. Text them(!)

The only communication tool perhaps more powerful than email, when it comes to promoting your events, is text messaging. If you can text message all of your members to invite them to an event, get them to click a link, sign up, reply back with interest, or remind them the night before, your event will be vastly more successful. In fact, we repeatedly hear from our churches here at Flocknote that a text message reminder the night before an event doubled (and in some cases quadrupled!) attendance to their event. It’s astonishingly simple and incredibly powerful.

3. Use local free sources

Any time you have a big event going on or something important to promote to the wider community, don’t forget about local radio stations, newspapers, TV, neighborhood associations, online community calendars or really any local organization with a platform to communicate (email list, facebook page, etc. of their own). Send them all the details and ask them to share. It’s a win-win for both of you. Tip: Create a list of all of these local outlets to keep on hand and make contacting them a part of your promotion process for big events.

4. Mobilize your greatest promotional asset…your people

Word of mouth may be old-fashioned, but it works! Every Sunday you have tons of faithful members of the community ready and willing to spread the word for you. Just remember to ask and equip them to do it!

5. Make it easy for your members to invite others

Give them the words to say, the compelling reasons to come, a blurb to copy and paste, a facebook post to promote, an email to forward, a link to share, a sign to put in their yard or on their car, flyers to hand out. And give them ideas on where to share it (at work, on nextdoor.com, on social networks, with neighbors, family, friends, etc.).

6. Personal invitations are powerful

It’s typically much better for somebody to individually invite 5 people than it is for them to blast an impersonal mass communication to 100 people. Ask them to think of 5 people they know who would like the event and have them make a personal invitation to each of them. The more personal your invitation, the more effort you put into it — a handwritten note, a personal acknowledgement, a basket of food(!) — the better you’ll fare. And of course, there are endless other benefits from these kinds of interactions as well, beyond the mere promoting of an event.

7. Pound the pavement

Go door to door. Post and hand out flyers. Put up signs along the road. Hang them on people’s doors. Get out into the community and talk to people. Tell them what you have to offer and that they are welcome. Have easy details handy along with a simple call to action.

8. Other local partners

Partner with popular local businesses or schools or other churches, ask to post the info somewhere or have them announce it to their own folks via their own channels. Consider providing them a promo code (for a discount or free giveaway at the event) that they can offer as a gift to their patrons.

9. Interview somebody about the event

 Rather than the invitation just coming from your voice, ask one of your members to talk about it and share why they plan to go (or how they enjoyed the same event last year). Using video is ideal, but it could be on your podcast or in written form, too. Then share it via all your channels.

10. Make it a priority

Many churches struggle to have the difficult discussions about what is really most important each year. So they end up treating everything as equally important, announcing everything (or nothing) all the time, and therefore not really communicating their priorities very well (inadvertently hurting the success of everything they do). If your event is a priority over other things, acknowledge it as a team and commit to treating it that way.

11. Over-communicate

If you’re not tired of talking about it, you haven’t talked about it nearly enough. If you really want people to attend, act like it. Talk about it every chance you get. Remind people every chance you get. Post it every where you can. If you believe your event will be a blessing to people, make sure they know it!

12. Build Anticipation

Along with making sure people are aware of the event, you also want them to anticipate it. So constantly make sure you are reminding folks of what to look forward to. Keep it intriguing (don’t give it all away!). But make sure they know what they will be missing out on if they decide not to attend.

13. Make people (a little) uncomfortable

Not in a weird or rude way, but you want to give them the chance to make a real choice. When you are speaking about your event, make a sincere invitation. Ask them to do something. Tell them why they should do it. Be very clear about what you are offering and what you want them to do, and then give them a chance to respond. Too often we ask people to do something and then move right along to the next thing (and in their minds they say “phew…I guess I’m off the hook needing to make that decision!”). Help them make a real decision, a yes or a no. If they say no, ask them why. You’ll learn a lot.

14. Consider snail mail

This can be expensive, but if it’s used strategically and deliberately can be very effective and another way to get their attention and hammer home your message.

15. Get out into the community

Set up a table at local fairs and community events, or just hang out in the streets around other events and invite people.

16. Consider targeted paid advertising on Facebook

For some events, this can be effective. You’re able to show your advertisement very specifically to only profiles with specified characteristics (i.e. Married men, age 18-35, who live in your city and like camping…or whatever). I’ve seen it used to great effect when done deliberately and for the right reasons.

17. Leverage past events

Make sure and promote your event to people who have attended one of your events in the past. You hopefully still have their email address or cell phone number, making this very easy.

18. Make your CTA strong, clear and doable

In all cases, you must have a clear CTA. CTA stands for “Call to Action.” What are you asking them to do? Is it clear? Have you told them why (what’s in it for them)? Is it concise (ie they aren’t going to get bored and stop reading/listening)? Is it easy for them to do? Can they do it now (or do they have to remember to do something later)? Ideally, you want an action they can take right now, before they forget. So when and where you ask them matters a lot.

19. Use baby steps

 When crafting your CTA or promotion plans, it’s often helpful to think in baby steps. At each point, only ask people to do the next easy step. Do they need to decide to attend right now…or can they simply decide whether they’re interested and want more info? Do they need to pay and register right now…or can they just give you their phone number or email address? Do they need to fill out the whole form now…or can they just text in a keyword to get started? Get them to take the next baby step. Then the next. Then the next. The easier each step, the more people you’ll have take it.

A robust text message and email tool like Flocknote can help your church with many of these steps! Flocknote was built specifically for churches, not for small businesses. Thousands of church leaders trust Flocknote to reach more of their sheep, and build a more connected church. Learn more about Flocknote here.

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