Did you know that Vacation Bible School is one of the biggest opportunities your church has for outreach? Kids love summer activities, parents love having anything to take their children to in the summer, and your staff (should) love getting to invest in the lives of children! It’s amazing what a spiritual impact VBS can make in the life of a child if your staff and volunteers are intentional and purposeful. However, if you don’t work hard to organize your VBS marketing efforts, people won’t know about VBS, and children will miss out on an opportunity to hear the Gospel. According to the Biblical Recorder, “Two-thirds of American parents say they plan to send kids to VBS this summer – even if they skip church themselves.” This means that your church has the opportunity to reach even unchurched children with the Gospel through VBS. In order to make sure that as many people as possible know about and attend your Vacation Bible School, here are a few ways key places to focus on your VBS marketing efforts. VBS WebsiteOne of the first places that visitors will look when trying to find a VBS for their child is Google. Because of this, it’s extremely important that you have a Vacation Bible School Website that is chock-full of information and resources that appeal to parents and children alike. Read on for a quick overview of the components you need on your VBS website to help your VBS marketing efforts. GraphicsAs you think through your VBS marketing and promotion, it’s a good idea to use branded and themed graphics throughout. Whether you are creating your own theme or using an established curriculum, you need graphics that reflect that theme and are appealing to children. For example, if your VBS is an underwater theme, make sure that your VBS website uses shades of blues, pictures of fish, and maybe even submarines. Even if you aren’t a design guru, there are resources out there that make creating and designing graphics for your website easy. ContentThe content on your VBS website will help to drive your VBS marketing and promotion. It’s important to include as much information as possible, so you can point people to your website in your VBS marketing efforts to find out more. Here are a few pieces of content that you need to be sure to include: Important information including dates, times, and themePricing and payment informationSchedule of eventsLocation including the church’s address and directionsContact information of your children’s pastor and other important volunteersFAQ’s (see examples below)What should my child wear?What does my child need to bring?Where should I drop my child off?What if they need to be picked up early one day?What will my child learn about?Can I volunteer?Will they be in a class with their friends?Video/photos of past VBS experiences at your churchRegistration forms and waiversLinks to other helpful pages on your church website Online Registration And PaymentLastly, on your VBS website, be sure to include options for online registration and payment. Then, focus on this as a selling point in your Vacation Bible School marketing plan. The easier and more convenient it is for parents to register their child, the more likely they will attend. When it comes to online registration, be sure to integrate your church management system to keep everything organized. You also want to make sure you include all the necessary forms including registration forms, medical release forms, and maybe even background checks for volunteers. Also, make sure you integrate your online giving system with your church website so you can easily offer an online payment option. Be sure to let people in and out of your church know that this is an option during registration as well. Social MediaThe next place you are going to want to focus your VBS marketing efforts is social media. It’s no secret that the best way to market is to go where people are and make your message as clear as possible. Well, currently, people are on social media, so it’s your job to get your church into the right spaces and present your message about VBS. PlatformsThere are a lot of social media platforms out there, so it’s important to know which ones your church and community engage with the most. The most popular for churches are: FacebookInstagramTwitterLinkedInSnapchat If your church doesn’t already have accounts with these platforms, now is the time to create them. Work with your team to put a marketing plan in place and create a social media calendar with all of your VBS promotion on it. Start early and work to make your posts engaging and creative. For example, on Instagram consider doing a poll about what more people are excited about: VBS crafts or VBS recreation. On Facebook, post a video of a past VBS at your church to get people excited and show them a little bit of what they can expect this year. Know Your Audience And Monitor ResultsAlso, when marketing VBS on social media, it’s extremely important that you work to learn more about your audience and only post content that drives results. According to Zephoria, ages 25-34 is the most common age demographic (on Facebook). Knowing this, it’s a good idea to post content that will appeal to young parents. You should also pay attention to what posts are working and what isn’t. If nobody is engaging with what you’re posting, consider trying a different approach. Printed MaterialWhile this may feel a little old school, it’s important to not ignore the power of printed material in your VBS marketing. According to FedEx Office, four out of five small business owners say professional printing helps them stand out. The church is not a small business, but in many ways, the marketing is similar. In your printed material, make sure that your branding is consistent and that every piece is on theme. This will help your appeal, professional reputation, and awareness. Here are a few examples of printed material you can use in your VBS marketing. Community FlyersIt’s still common practice to see well-designed flyers hung on bulletin boards in local coffee shops, restaurants, neighborhoods, and stores. Design a flyer that promotes your church’s VBS and pushes people to your VBS website for more information. Then, meet with local business owners and ask if you can hang a flyer in their place of business to help your promotion. You’ll be surprised how far this can go! Invitation CardsAnother key printed piece is an invitation card. These cards are small, maybe business-card sized, cards that simply have your church’s name, website, phone number, VBS dates, and a simple invitation statement. Examples include “you’re invited” or “join me”! Ask the members in your church to pick up these cards and hand them out to neighbors, friends, and family members that they would like to invite. According to Lifeway, 69% of parents would let their child attend VBS at someone else’s church if they were invited. Don’t underestimate the power of an invitation! Bonus: you could even create a children’s version of the card and send them with the children in your church to invite friends. Church Printed MaterialWhile VBS is an outreach, it’s also a ministry to those already at your church too. Because of this, it’s important that your VBS marketing material reaches them as well. One of the best ways to do this is to print it in your church bulletin or handout. Possibly even consider doing a special insert to your bulletin that gives all the VBS details and recruits volunteers. AdvertisementsThe last place to focus your VBS marketing efforts on is advertisements. Ads can go a long way in reaching people outside of your normal circles; however, they do require a budget. Don’t let a small budget scare you away from ads though. Even a little money can go a long way. When it comes to advertisements, there are two directions to go: digital and print. Digital AdsDigital ads are ads that your church creates online in places like Google and Facebook. There are a lot of ways to approach this, and whether you are an expert or a newbie, it’s important to work to at least get your information out there. When creating a digital advertisement focus on keeping your message extremely simple and having a clear call-to-action. Your call-to-action is simply the next step that you want people to take if they see your ad. Do you want them to visit your website, call your church, signup, or something else? Decide this before you place an ad. Printed AdsPrinted ads are ads that you place in your local newspapers and/or magazines. You typically purchase space on a page and a certain date that it will be published. The amount of space and location of the ad normally is determined by your budget. When placing a printed ad, try to put it where people who may be interested will see it. For example, placing a VBS ad in a local family magazine may be more effective than placing an ad in a magazine designed for nursing home residents. Like in digital ads, it’s important that your message is clear. Next StepsHopefully, you feel more confident and ready to jump into marketing and promoting your Vacation Bible School. Shelby Systems has decades of experience working with ministries of all sizes. For more creative ideas or to learn more about how Shelby’s Systems’ software and solutions can help you streamline your church management, contact us today.