I have noticed a consistent pattern in attendance at conferences over the years. Before I tell about that, I need to mention what I do for a day job. I think people think of me as a conference speaker and Sunday School trainer, and I am. But, there is a lot a down time in between conferences. In that down time, I write Sunday School lessons called Good Questions Have Groups Talking. They correspond with Lifeway’s outlines and are usually used supplementally to Lifeway material. I have been doing this for years; I started way back when I was a Minister of Education at a local church. I have written thousands of lessons. I would argue I have written more lessons than any human—living or dead.
Here is what I have found. When I come to a church that has been using my lessons for a few years, I always get a good crowd. Always. People have gotten to know me through my lessons and they want to see the man behind the lessons. (They have actually said those words to me.) If churches don’t use my lessons, I will make them available for free for 4 months or so before the conference, just to build attendance. (If you are a host, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ) I also always give free trials of my lessons to anyone who asks.
People like to hear people they have heard of. Think of the opposite. If you to promote a preacher, a singer or a Sunday School trainer and people have never heard of that preacher, singer or Sunday School trainer, promotion is going to be difficult.
Here is the rule: build familiarity slowly long before the event.
If it is a singer you are promoting and he has written anything, sing some of his songs. Then, when you get ready to promote the concert tell them they will be coming to hear the writer of that song they like. They may not know the name Darlene Zschech but if you tell them the writer of Shout to the Lord is coming, they will be interested.
If the preacher has written a book, try to make the book available for sale as soon as you can. If I am coming to your church, get your teachers using Good Questions. Build familiarity long before the event.
In this book, Thinking Fast and Slow, author Daniel Kahneman writes, “People tend to assess the relative importance of issues by the ease with which they are retrieved from memory—and this is largely determined by the extent of coverage in the media.” This is a fancy way of saying that people tend to think they already know about everything that is really important. If they have not heard of it, it must not be important because they already know about everything that is really important.
This is why political candidates put out bumper stickers, yard signs and billboard with nothing but their name. People like to vote for people they have heard of. They also like to attend conferences of people they have heard of and they hate attending conferences of people they have not heard of.
So, what are we to do if people have not heard of the person you are trying to promote? Technology can help.
What ideas do you have? I’d love to hear from you.