Do the people in your congregation have a tendency to wait until the last minute to register for events? This is a phenomenon that is common in many churches and something that plagues communications directors. Late sign ups make planning the event tough and also makes measuring the effectiveness of the marketing efforts difficult.
I have a theory about why last minute registrations happen. It is based on my experience…no scientific research involved. It comes down to two things:
- Too many church activities, and
- Promoting the event too early
The quantity of church activities is a controversial topic and something I’ll address at another time. What I want to briefly delve into today is the timing of event promotion.
In my experience, promoting an event too far in advance causes people to have this line of thinking (usually at a subconscious level):
“That event is something I’d like to participate in, but I’ve got a month (or two months or six months) before I have to sign up. I’ll register for it a little closer to the deadline.”
Then, because their lives are busy and they get hundreds of media messages shouted at them every day, they ignore all of subsequent mentions of it. Three weeks pass and suddenly the person thinks, “Shoot! I was going to sign up for that event! I better do it today!” Boom! You have a plethora of last-minute sign ups.
How can we prevent the last minute rush? We have to find the sweet spot in timing the promotion of upcoming events, which will vary greatly from event to event. People tend to plan their lives two to three weeks out. If we go further out than that in promoting an event, we get the “I’ll sign up later” effect. Any shorter than that and you’re probably not giving them enough time.
There are certainly events where people need more advanced notice, such as events where travel might be necessary, where a long term absence might need to be accounted for, or where a large sum of money might need to be raised (think missions trips). However, for the majority of events, that “sweet spot” time frame will work better.
The point isn’t necessarily the specific time frame…it will vary based on context…but rather the fact that we might be causing our own demise.
What are your thoughts? Have you found a “sweet spot” time frame for promotion of ministry events?