So there’s a big event coming up at church, and you’re the one doing the communications. You’ve got to get the word out to members and the community. You’ve got to get other people on board for the marketing and make sure they can do what you need them to do. It’s a lot to do, and it might just be a big swirly ball of chaos inside your mind. Or maybe you don’t know where to start and feel like you’re staring at a blank canvas. So how do you get started?
Here’s an outline for coordinating the marketing for an event. It’s the same process I used when running the marketing for a huge event that happened at my church a few weeks ago. This road map will guide you through the planning, execution, and analysis process, helping you manage a campaign that is comprehensive and well organized.
1. Map out a rough timeline for the messaging. At this step, don’t worry about any specifics like taglines or what communication channels you’ll use. Just write down the main message and how you see it changing as the event comes up and finishes. For instance, two months before the event, you can simply focus on making people aware of the event. One month before, you can start asking people to sign up. And within one week afterward, you can thank the participants.
2. Make a list of all the communication channels that are available. Just write down everything you can think of, not yet evaluating which ones you will use. Maybe this will include your church’s website, mailings, emails, monthly newsletters, social media accounts, Sunday-morning bulletins, and postservice announcements.
3. Decide which channels you want to use. It might not be appropriate to advertise the event in some spaces. For instance, if your church cannot afford a postcard mailing for the event, you’ll have to cross it off the list. Or maybe the church has a Twitter account but it is mostly inactive and has few followers, so it won’t be worth your time to do a lot of Twitter advertising. Think about the purpose of each channel, the audience who uses it, and limitations such as time and budget.
4. Compile contact information for everyone you’ll need to work with for each channel. Maybe the church secretary handles bulletin announcements and the newsletter, the pastor runs the Facebook page, and a volunteer member runs the website. Make a spreadsheet with the names and email addresses of the people you need to work with for each channel. Having all this information in one place will make things easier for you when you start delegating and following up on tasks.
5. Determine specific tactics. Use your messaging timeline and list of channels to determine how exactly to communicate each message to the right audience. For example, in the awareness part of the campaign, maybe you’ll plan a postservice announcement on Sunday, Facebook and Twitter posts on Monday, and a reminder email to all members a week after that. Keep in mind that you can adjust this plan as you go, adding or removing tactics as new opportunities arise.
6. Assign tasks. You have your list of things that need to get done (tactics). Now, start delegating these tasks out to people. This is where you’ll use your spreadsheet of contact info. If you can, try to give each person a heads-up ahead of time that things will come their way. When you ask them to complete a specific task, give them enough information to understand the context of the task and how it fits into the larger campaign. Let them know about any stylistic elements they need to stick to for consistency and when you’d like them to complete the task.
7. Evaluate tactics for consistency and effectiveness. Check on each tactic as it rolls out to make sure it’s consistent with your overall message. Also, keep an eye on things to see if they work. Does your social media post need a boost because it’s not getting much engagement? Do you need to make an announcement after church because people gloss over the bulletin blurb? Stay on your toes, and adapt the strategy as it rolls out.
8. Make a record of all tactics. Maintaining a record throughout your work will help you along the way if, say, you can’t remember whether you’ve already done something. You’ll also be able to use this record in the future if your church holds the same event again (or a similar one) because you won’t have to start from square one. Writing things down as you do them is more helpful than writing them down after the fact, when you might have forgotten some things.
9. Include a post-event message in your strategy. What do you want people to take away from the event? Perhaps if the event was meant to inform people about Bible study options, you could encourage members to sign up on the church website for a study. You could invite visitors to do the same, and also invite them to worship on Sunday. Thank everyone who helped with the marketing as well.
10. Reflect and analyze to learn from your work. What went well? Were the messages consistent and timely? Did you reach the right audience? Did you feel on top of things? Conversely, what could have gone better? Could you have delegated some tasks to other people to lighten your load? Was a certain communication channel less effective than others? When you consider what went well, you can feel good about what you accomplished. When you consider what could go better next time, you can learn and grow even stronger as a marketing coordinator.
Whether you don’t know how to get started or you feel overwhelmed with all the things to do, you can use this road map as a way to begin your marketing ventures. Of course, every event is different, so you may need to add to the process or remove steps if they don’t apply to you. Whatever you’re marketing, if you do some good planning ahead of time and wrap the campaign up neatly, you’ll be on the right track.
Want to learn more in depth about marketing and communications for churches?
Check out Church Online Communications Comprehensive, a free fourteen-week course you can take online at your own pace.