This is the third part of a three part series on “How to Get 500 Students to Show Up to Your Event.”
Three Secrets to Throwing a Great Event
- Start with a Unique Idea People Want to Experience (Day 1)
- Market Directly to Everyone You Want to Come (Day 2)
- Deliver the Experience You Promised (Day 3)
Deliver the Experience You Promised
While the first two points were about getting people to initially show up, the third point deals with how to keep people showing up. Really, all you need is good marketing to get people to show up once. However, if you fail to provide the promised experience, people aren’t likely to trust your marketing in the future. To build a relationship with the community, you need events which actually bless the attendees…even if it’s for something as silly as dropping eggs from a helicopter.
Some things to consider:
Beware of the Bait and Switch
I try not to be dogmatic about things which the Bible is dogmatic about. So I’m not likely to say you should never “bait and switch,” but I would be highly weary of doing so.
People are showing up to the event for the fun. They don’t want to hear a Jesus sales pitch. The “bait and switch” is a sales tactic. It sends the message that you have a heavy handed agenda behind everything you do. People catch onto that sort of thing and become skeptical.
If you want to be a ministry which uses events to reach the community, I would recommend being cautious with sermons and presentations, and/or find alternative ways to use the events to reach people.
With that said, I’m not saying you should avoid mentioning your church or Jesus, but people shouldn’t feel like they have to jump through a series of hoops to ride a mechanical bull.
Beware of Drawing Too Many People
With good marketing you can get people to show up. However, it’s pretty easy to get too many people to show up. Distributing a flyer which says you’ll have a mechanical bull, bouncy boxing, and free pizza can draw a huge crowd. However, mechanical bulls and bouncy boxing are low volume attractions and pizza is limited.
What are all the other people going to be doing?
What are you going to feed everyone else?
You don’t want to market bigger than you can entertain.
Our Christmas party had a 24ft. slide and an obstacle course. Both are high volume inflatables. In addition we had a video game room with 10 video game systems which could handle 4 players each. Finally we had multiple bands on stage, and between bands we had attractional games (such as the smash-a-thon). Even with 500 students in attendance, there was no excuse for anyone getting bored!
Beware of the Weather | Have a Contingency Plan
There are many things you can control. The weather is not one of them, but it can completely ruin months of planning. Have a contingency plan!
The day of our egg drop the temperature dropped 30 degrees, the wind picked up to possibly dangerous levels, and the clouds were threatening rain. Prior to the actual egg drop we’d scheduled a festival with inflatables. The wind caused us to cancel all of the inflatables since they were getting blown over. To state the obvious, that’s kind of a big problem!
The weather is just one way everything could fall apart. Prior to your event spend an enormous amount of time brainstorming every way things could fall apart. The majority of your paranoia is wasted effort, but you will almost certainly discover a handful of legitimate areas of concern.
I can’t say that I’ve cracked the code of how to best use an event to plug people into our community. These massive events were certainly good marketing for our church, but little more. We’ve done other events with a far greater retention rate. But with all of this it comes down to knowing your community and your church. There’s no one size fits all strategy for leveraging an event.