For many of us the first day of VBS 2011 is a mere eight weeks away. There is much to be done! Recruiting, training, organizing, ordering, decorating, and of course promoting.
I placed promoting last in this long list of "ing" words because it is often the last aspect of VBS to be considered. We spend hours and hours planning and organizing for the big event but often only a few minutes contemplating how we will let the world know about the big event. I have often said, "If you build it they will come," may make for a great movie but it doesn't apply to VBS. The best organized VBS in the world never gets off the ground if no one knows about it.
Hopefully you have already made plans for promoting your VBS, but if you haven't here are five essentials.
1. Start with a plan. You have to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your promotion plan. Who will be involved in promoting the event and who do you want to receive the information? What information needs to be communicated? When and where will you share your message? Why should people respond to the message? How many different ways will the message be delivered?
2. Put someone in charge. Without having a specific person responsible for promotion it is often overlooked or left to the last minute. The last thing you want to do is wake up on the Sunday before VBS and realize no one knows about it. This is a great job for an organized person who is willing to help with VBS but is unavailable during the week of VBS.
3. Know your audience. VBS leaders typically say their audience is the children, but in reality the audience is the parents of the children. While children may want to attend it is the parents who make the decision for their children to attend. VBS promotion needs to attract the attention of the children but at the same time communicate the message to the parents.
A second aspect of knowing your audience is knowing where they live and congregate and how they communicate. If your VBS is designed for small children an empty-nester neighborhood might not be the best place to spend your time and energy.
4. Use a variety of methods. Just as we all learn in different ways, we retain information in different ways. The best promotion plans include a variety of ways - door-to-door brochures, banners, e-mails, etc. - that all work together to share the message. While one person responds to the brochure someone else responds best to the e-mail.
5. Be creative. Thousands of people, organizations, and corporations are working 24-7 to share their messages. On a typical day we receive so many invitations to try a new product or attend a new event that by the end of the day they have all meshed into one loud roar. Only the most creative grab and hold our attention. It is important to remember that creative DOES NOT have to mean big dollars. Typically the most creative promotions of all are the least expensive.
Next week I'll share the five connection points of VBS promotion. Until then, happy promoting!