A Plan for Engagement: Strategically Promoting Your Events

In 2009, I was working for a small publishing company in Kansas City. I remember releasing 50-60 new books each year! My marketing team of only three people felt overwhelmed with the different strategies needed and limited resources for each book. Sound familiar? Do you know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and have limited resources? I imagine so, because this is similar to what many churches face every day, except instead of book promotion, it’s event promotion.

At the publishing house, we created a tiered system that helped us prioritize. We’d mark books as Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3. This helped us know the amount of time, money, and other resources we could put towards promoting each book. At Resurrection, we have a similar tiered system for promoting our events. We call it the Priority Valuation Matrix.

Priority Valuation Matrix:

Green:  Mission Critical, High Impact Potential, L – XL Scale, Maximum Resources

Gold:  Mission Significant, Med – High Impact Potential, M – L Scale, Moderate Resources

Gray:  Mission Relevant, Modest – Med Impact Potential, S – M Scale, Minimal Resources

Once you’ve decided whether your event is a Green, Gold, or Gray, you can create your engagement strategy. Below are 5 things to keep in mind as you build out your strategy.

Engagement Strategy Guidelines:

  1. Define the Event’s Unique Identity: Every event has a unique identity and purpose. Begin by clearly defining what sets your event apart from other community events happening at the same time. Understand the needs and aspirations of your current members, as well as your community.

  1. Identify and Understand Your Target Audience: To effectively reach your community, you need to understand who your target audience is. Identify the demographics, interests, and needs of the people you aim to engage. Is your church trying to attract young families, college students, or seniors? By understanding your audience, you can tailor your engagement efforts to connect with them on a deeper level.

  1. Establish Clear Objectives: Set specific and measurable goals for your engagement efforts. Are you looking to increase attendance, engage with the community, or promote specific programs? Establishing clear objectives will help you stay focused, track your progress and know which event/program you are inviting attendees to next.

  1. Craft a Compelling Message: Develop a clear and concise message that communicates the essence of your event and what it offers. Focus on the unique aspects that will resonate with your target audience. Highlight the benefits of coming to the event. Ensure that your message reflects the welcoming and inclusive nature of your church.

  1. Evaluate and Adapt: Regularly review and evaluate the effectiveness of your engagement efforts. Monitor website analytics, social media engagement, and attendance rates to gauge the impact of your strategies. Seek feedback from your congregation and community members. Based on these insights, adapt and refine your engagement plan to optimize results for the next time you do this event.

Here is an example of messaging we used during our 2023 blood drive:

"Did you know that one donation can save up to three lives? That's like hitting a triple! Let's HIT IT OUT OF THE BALLPARK WITH DOUBLE OUR USUAL DONATIONS!"

This ad was specifically for 35-45-year-olds within 15 miles of our location. We wanted to have fun with the fact that it was opening day for our local MLB team and challenge the community to double donations this year! The baseball reference helped to frame our event as unique and remind our community that we are in tune with what is happening in the city. We spent $75 on Facebook ads and reached 8,500. 139 people came to our website from that ad meaning it was 55 cents for each person who came to our site. Not a bad way to connect with our community. Once they came to our blood drive, we showed them great hospitality and invited them to join us for Easter with a handout. As we roll into a new school year, this is a perfect time to gather your thoughts or your team and knock out all the events to come in the 2023-24 school year. Mark each event as Green, Gold, or Gray and create an engagement strategy for each event. You’ll know your priorities for the year and how to best utilize your limited time, money, and resources in promoting each event. I’m positive you will see some great results that will lead to lives changed in your community.

Jon Edlin oversees Resurrection’s marketing efforts across all locations, online, and television. Prior to his current role at Resurrection, Jon spent over a decade in sales and marketing positions in both for-profit and non-profit companies. He and his wife, Melinda, are the proud parents of Graham and Carolina.