Planning great events is one thing. Getting people to sign up is another. It is frustrating when you pour your heart into planning an event or an activity and the sign-ups don’t go well. Whether it’s a volunteer opportunity, a special event, or a small group, here are a few ways you can persuade more people to sign up for whatever event you are offering.
1. Tease before you tell.
When there’s an important announcement or an upcoming activity available to everyone, mixed in with all of the regular activities and programs, the announcement often gets lost in the shuffle. It’s just one of many things – things that already weren’t on people’s weekly radar. It’s hard for people to understand something is special when it’s surrounded by seven other special things.
A solution to this information overload is to break the pattern by telling people a sign-up opportunity is coming. It’s not even available yet. You can’t get it now, but it’s coming. When you do this, you drop something in people’s minds and plant the seed of action. Instead of just starting sign-ups, tease it for a week or two. Instead of just making something available, tell them it’s coming. Before you peel back the curtain, put up the curtain and keep it hidden for a couple of weeks.
It might sound like this: I know it’s only April, but this summer our students are going to Camp. It’s one of the biggest events of the year, and the spots always fill up. I’ll share more about it later, but registration starts in two weeks. If you have a high school student, you will want to check the dates and start making plans to sign up. We will open up registration on October 1st.
2. Create a sign-up deadline.
If you want people to sign up for something, give them a deadline. This is the best way to combat “I’ll do it later” thinking. If a company you work with sends you a reminder notice that you’ve only got eight weeks to act, you’ll probably pay little attention to it. The same is true with church stuff. People need to know WHEN they need to act.
You’ve been talking about it and planning it for months, but as a church leader you’re thinking ahead. You’re living in “what’s next”, but your people are living in “what’s now.” Deadlines drive decisions. It’s why the last week in December is the most important week of the year for non-profit organizations raising money. December 31 is the ultimate deadline, and all the communication reminds people that the time to act is now.
It might sound like this: Next week is the deadline for you to sign up for one of the three fall Bible Studies here at Grace Church. Every season we have people call the office, after the sign -deadline, and we have to give them the bad news. I don’t want that for you. So if you’re thinking about signing up, you’ve got until next Sunday. After that registration is closed and the next classes won’t start for four months.
3. Offer a sign-up bonus.
I know you’ve seen crazy TV infomercials. Before you snap back into reality, you’re thinking you actually need a knife that can cut through a tin can. Seriously, you were already on the fence when they said they would double the offer if you called in the next ten minutes. TWO knives! You can cut through TWO tin cans!
There’s a reason TV infomercials give a bonus if you call right now. They know the power of the sign-up bonus. You might not think this would work in church, but it does.
No, you should not resort to ridiculous bozo sales tactics to get people to act, but you can incentivize those early adopters. What if you treated your sign-up day like a launch? Instead of just adding something to the info table, what if you made a big deal out of it? What if you gave out a free T-shirt to everyone who signs up on the launch day?
It might sound like this: A few weeks ago I told you that today was the day to sign up to be an Egg Drop Volunteer. We talked about how we need 200 people to help us on April 6 at City Field. Well…today is the sign-up day. We need 200 of you to serve on one of six teams. All of the information is printed in your bulletin. And, if you sign up today at the tables in the back, we’ve got a free volunteer T-shirt for you. There are 200 of these, and when they are gone, they are gone!
4. Ask a lot.
If you’re a pastor or a church leader, your life and work is the church. This makes you extremely different from everyone else who comes to your church. You think about this stuff all the time – they rarely do. You think about your message all week – it’s not on their radar. You’re praying and planning for weeks and months – they make decisions based on lunch plans.
So if you want people to do something, you have to ask a lot. An announcement or two won’t do the trick. You’ve got to deliver a focused and consistent message over time. It took five or six commercials and recommendations for you to sign up for Netflix, switch your car insurance, or see a movie. Why do you think church people would join a small group or decide to donate for a cause after a thirty second announcement? Not only do you have to talk about it a lot, you need to talk about it in a lot of different ways. You need to ask them from the stage. You need to hit their email inbox. And you might want to consider hitting their snail mail box, too. Multiple touch points. Multiple formats. Over multiple weeks.
The more important the event, the longer the runway needs to be. Most churches spend a couple of weeks on something, giving their congregation ministry whiplash, when they should really spend a couple of months carefully articulating the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’.And for what it’s worth, you should spend just as much time on the back side celebrating whatever happened as you do encouraging people to sign up. If you spend a month talking about why people should join a small group, make sure you schedule a week or two to share life stories of people who decided to get in. Not only will you reinforce the reason you did the thing in the first place, you’ll make people hungry for the next round.
Michael joined The Rocket Company as the Executive Director six years ago. He’s responsible for the message and the overall operation of the company. He’s married to Jennie and they have three children and a black lab. Follow Michael on Twitter