Advertising Works

I know. Seems like we should already know that, but I was reminded of it again.

Last year we did a community “yard sale” where church members brought things to sell, and then gave the money to the church to help families that have been impacted by the economy. We had a good crowd, and raised a lot of money to help people.

We held our second annual sale on Saturday. This year the pastor asked us to really promote it in the community. So we did. Last year we did in church promotion and newspaper, some posters and banners. This year we did all of that plus added three radio stations and some facebook advertising.

The crowd was much larger. The parking lot was packed. Last year there was a good crowd, but there were periods when the sellers had downtime. So much so that our pastor had provided some water and donuts for the sellers this year. But an hour into the sale no one had been able to break away. They were just covered up with early shoppers at the sale. And people were buying. I had to leave about a hour into the sale, and most people had sold well over half of what they brought.

The difference in crowd was noticeable. And these were not people attached to the church for the most part. There were just a lot of people here. The difference was the amount of advertising.

Every year when the Singing Trees tickets go on sale we can track the days we have advertising running and the days we don’t. There is a noticeable spike in sales when ads run in the paper, or on radio or TV.

Lately we have been doing more advertising on social media. With one campaign on Facebook we had over 400,000 impressions. In Orlando you would easily spend over $1000 on traditional media. We spent under $125 for that result.

If advertising didn’t work, people wouldn’t buy it. That doesn’t mean you cannot advertise the wrong way, or the wrong thing. I once was a part of the campaign for an event that spent over $100 per person that showed up. We could have just paid less directly to the people who came, and saved money. We were advertising an event at bad date and time, about something people were not interested in. Even the best advertising campaign cannot overcome that.

But done right, it delivers results. It can also help cover mistakes in promotion. Recently we were approached to help get the word out about a fund raiser being held on our campus. The event was three weeks away, and virtually no promotion had been done. We were able to identify the right audience, and the right media to reach that specific audience. The result was a quickly construed advertising plan that ultimately filled the room with potential donors.

When you are planning your events make sure to set aside budget for advertising. Identify your audience. Find the right ways to talk to those people, and do it. And by the way, don’t be afraid to seek the help of an advertising agency if you are focusing on buys in traditional media.