We talk a lot about trying to be as effective as possible in the way that we communicate. Many articles speak about how to communicate well while using social media, your church website, and even the church bulletin. But when it comes to outreach, what’s the best form of communication? What’s the best marketing campaign you can create?
Even though we talk a lot about more technologically advanced forms of communication, the best way to get people to attend your next outreach event is still found in one of the most traditional forms: personal invitation.
WHY IT WORKS SO WELL
Believe it or not, word-of-mouth marketing, or personal invitations, are really the best way your church can advertise what’s happening. People love to hear what their friends and family members are passionate about; we love to hear about what’s happening in the lives of those we care about. When your church puts the responsibility back on the shoulders of the congregation to start spreading the word of an event they care about, the results are more people will be attending an event they already have a connection to—the person they care about.
According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from people they know. Imagine this scenario: as your friend, I visit your home. In the course of our discussion, I tell you about something new that I’m passionate about. Wouldn’t you want to find out more about it due to our relationship? This practice extends into the life of the church, too. If, as part of your conversation with a family friend, you talk to them about how excited you are for the next big event at your church and why it’s important to you, your friends will be more likely to want to be involved. Their curiosity about (and potential involvement in) the event relates to our fundamental humanity; we desire community and belonging.
HOW TO DO IT RIGHT
Just because we’re talking about personal invitation, or word-of-mouth outreach, doesn’t mean you should abandon all other forms of communication and advertising. Instead, asking your congregation to be actively involved should be part of the bigger plan for your program.
Word-of-mouth marketing puts the burden of responsibility back on the shoulders of your congregation. Instead of your church members relying solely on the staff to get the word out about events, they are now an active part of that process. But you need to set them up for success.
As part of your communication plan for your event, create a conversation starter for your people to use. That could look different based on your church, the event, and your available resources. Some ideas might be a simple business card, a gift card holder, a flyer, an Easter egg, or something creative that goes with the theme of your event. Make sure to include basic information about the event, and a call-to-action—like where to get more information or to register.
What creative ways have you encouraged personal invitations?