Improving your community communications

Improving your community communications

A lot of churches attend their village fête or other local events where they have a stand. How do you make the most of these occasions? How do you get people on your stall and how can you make sure that you are able to follow them up?

Here are some ideas. 
Start planning early: Choose which events you are going to and make the most of it. A last-minute stand looks just that. Make sure you have enough people to help put it up, run it and take down.

Signage: Make sure people know who you are. It is very easy to just wander past a stall without knowing what it is about. Invest in some clear banners or signs.

Have a theme: Develop this it so that it acts as a draw to people walking past. This will depend on your resources but do you know someone who has a donkey, can put on an impromptu art class, or owns exercise equipment? All of these can be used generate ideas and biblical links.

Collect data: Engage visitors in a game or competition (guess the weight of the cake, name the teddy etc.) or run a quiz. Makes sure that the form people fill in includes a statement and a tick box giving you permission to stay in touch. If possible, collect email addresses rather than phone numbers as they can be used to rapidly send out invitations to future events. Let those who have not won know (as well as the winners) as it establishes a contact and is a great excuse to attach an invitation.

Have somewhere to sit down and relax: Village fêtes can be tiring so have a comfortable seating area and give out free refreshments (check this is okay with the organisers as they will not want to detract from other refreshment sales).

Invite people along before the event: Let people know that you will be at the event and tell them what you have to offer (children’s area, refreshments, competition etc.)

Watch the body language: Make sure that those on duty look welcoming. Common mistakes are forming your own huddles or doing jobs and standing arms crossed like bouncers across the entrance to the stall.

Use open questions: If someone shows and interest in the stand don’t ask “Can I help you?” as this will usually get the response “No thanks” and then all potential openings are closed down.

All of this is common sense but they are all frequent mistakes even amongst professional exhibitors. As you walk around the event quietly critique the stalls to get ideas of what to do (and not do) next year.

Nick Jones