In today’s episode, we’re going to be walking through our Christmas Marketing Blueprint. The beauty of this plan is that it can apply to any event you want to do- Easter, Christmas, etc. It’s just a framework for marketing that’s really easy to follow.
Ultimately, we’re answering the question, what can you do to get people engaged with this event, and ultimately, with the gospel?
Let’s dive right in! We’ll start by covering why this “big event” approach works.
Having a large Christmas event serves the people of your church and community in different ways:
Bottom line: attending a Christmas service is part of the Christmas tradition for many, many people. As a leader, you want to be doing everything you can to meet people where they are!
An event also gives your people something to rally around for a season. It’s special and fun, and gets a lot of people who don’t know Jesus into the building. An awesome side effect of big events is that, in addition to giving people a reason to invite, you’re giving them an opportunity to volunteer. This helps them to dip their toes in the water, which is why large events produce the most new volunteers in churches every season. Volunteering for an event is a short-term commitment that allows them to see if they’re ready to sign up for more.
As you implement your Christmas Marketing Blueprint, be sure that you avoid the biggest mistake we, as church leaders, make when it comes to promoting events: vomit marketing. Pardon the name, but it’s an accurate description of what happens. Vomit marketing involves telling everyone all the details at once. When you do that, there’s no mystery or reason for people to want to learn more. Instead, aim to help people to learn something new every time they interact with your church over a period of 5-6 weeks- whether that’s in-person, on Instagram, Facebook, your church website, or in their email inbox. Your goal is to create curiosity and excitement in their minds.
Some great examples of companies that do this well are movie production studios. Any of the major blockbusters that you’ve seen in the last 10 years follow this pattern. Type the name of your favorite movie (such as “Batman Begins”) followed by “teaser trailer,” into Google, and watch the teaser. In the Batman example, it’s dark, the music is slow, and he’s talking about searching for something for two whole minutes. There’s no plot giveaway or action. It’s simply there to set the mood. Then, search for the same movie with “final trailer” or “commercial spot.” This is normally released right before the movie hits theaters. It’s not a mood piece. It’s all explosions and action, packed into 30 sections.
Now, imagine if the teaser trailer for Avengers or another blockbuster had given away the plot, over a year before the movie came out. Would that have built anticipation? Nope. In fact, chances are that people would have been bored with the concept or would have forgotten it completely by the time the movie was actually released. Obviously, you won’t be introducing your event a year in advance- but make sure that you’re revealing the details at the right pace to keep people interested.
Now that we’ve made the case for why you should have a Christmas event, and explained the biggest mistake we make when it comes to marketing events, let’s talk through your Christmas marketing blueprint and what it should look like.
This is the week you first announce that your event is coming. Be as general and vague as possible, and promise to share more in the future. That’s right- don’t give them any dates or details, just mention that there’s something very special being prepared for Christmas. In fact, you could even take your graphics or your logo and just blur it out while teasing that you’ll be announcing something special next week.
Don’t worry- as we move closer, there will be much more repetition and detail. But for this announcement, don’t reveal much.
During your service: Make one stage/stream announcement
On social media: Post one video or image on each of your social media profiles
Email: Send one email about “something very exciting that you’re going to reveal next week.”
Announce the official Christmas service with your logo or graphics and the service date, but promise more details next week. At this point, you want to get your event on people’s calendars, but you’re trying to train people to anticipate more things coming. Remember, when you’re building anticipation and excitement, that’s when you create great marketing.
Communicating the dates of your event is especially important when it comes to people who don’t normally or who have never attended church. Advance notice is a HUGE help as people plan their Christmas season. To a lot of people visiting, this is just something to do- it’s a tradition that they’ll put on their calendars to attend. However, we know that it’s something so much more powerful than that.
During your service: Make one stage/stream announcement
On social media: Post one video or image on all your social media platforms
Email: Send one email
It’s time to ramp up your promotion! While you’re increasing the amount of time you spend talking about your Christmas event, don’t repeat announcements or posts- think of creative ways to pull it in, like mentioning it at the beginning of the sermon or having one of your service hosts mention it. It’s also a good idea to have the announcements or messages come from different people. For example, it could be that you’re starting a Christmas sermon series that culminates with your big event. The pastor should plug that during his sermon time, but someone else should be talking about the event during a different part of the service, by showing a video or mentioning one special thing you’ll be doing at the event.
During your service: Make wo stage/stream announcements
On social media: Post two social media posts on all your channels
Email: You don’t necessarily have to send an email this week, but if you do, just send one.
At this stage, you’re moving from information to action. On social media, this means you’re going to want to create posts for your people and your congregation that move them to invite. A great way to do this is to create and link to a landing page (such as youchurchwebsite.com/Christmas) that they can use when inviting people to join them for church.
Basically, you want to be able to equip and empower your congregation to be your street team, inviting their neighbors, friends, and family to celebrate Christmas with them at your church.
During your service: Make two stage/stream announcements from different people
On social media: Post three invitational social media posts (graphics or videos- switch it up!), that you ask your people to share
Email: Send one email prodding your people to action
At this point, your marketing is reaching fever pitch- you could even say that it’s fast and furious!
With the increased activity on social media, remember that every post doesn’t have to be right on the nose. Instead, you can use more subtle language, like, “What’s your favorite Christmas carol?” In the comments, say “Join us, we’re going to be singing that one!” This is also the time when you’re going to be doing Facebook ads with more force, if you do those, because if you do your Facebook ads four weeks out, people will forget about your event. Now that it’s here, it’s time to pull out all the stops!
On the email front, you’re going to want to send three emails this week. This might sound like a lot or like it might be annoying, but the truth is that average open rates for emails are really low. You’re talking 15-20 percent. So just because you send an email, it doesn’t mean people see it or open it. You’re not doing this EVERY week- it’s only for your really large events. You want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to see and respond to what you have going on.
During your service: Make three stage/stream announcements. Remember, this is going to require being creative about how you weave it into your service!
On social media: Post every day.
Email: Send one email six days out- (so on Monday if your service is the following Sunday), three days out, and one day before the event.
So that’s the Christmas Marketing Blueprint. Start small. Start with simple and intriguing. And as you move toward the event, you’ll reveal new layers every time. At the same time, you’re training your people to be excited and spread the news whenever you host an event.
Want a link to the pdf of our Christmas Marketing Blueprint? Here’s a link to download it.