Editor’s Note: In light of current shelter-in-place orders, you may think some of these suggestions are unattainable, but you can still look to some of these methods with creative thinking and see results. The second idea listed here is likely to be the most obvious, but think out of the box. Discussions are going on right now in the RBP VBS Community Facebook group on this!
You know you have an exciting and life-changing program planned for Vacation Bible School. But if you really want the kids in your community to attend willingly and enthusiastically, you’ve got to show that your program is something they want to attend and should not miss. Here are six ideas for family-directed advertising that will appeal to kids.
1. Take advantage of “word of mouth” advertising. It’s not new or unique, but it is effective. VBS Creative Manager Josh Mason suggests the following ways to get the word out:
- Ask church kids and members to tell their friends about VBS. This also helps in the case of kids who need rides; it’s easier and much more likely for families to send their kids with a friend.
- Encourage students to informally tell their school friends about VBS.
- Ask parents in your church to use their social media to share your church’s VBS posts with their friends. The posts could include the Big Fish Bay logo and a clip of the program’s theme song.
- If church members own a business that families visit, ask them to hang theme posters in conspicuous places and to keep a stack of Big Fish Bay postcards beside a bowl of treats on a counter. When customers ask about the posters, cards, or treats, word about your VBS is spreading.
2. Along the lines of word of mouth, don’t forget digital spaces! Consider family-directed advertising on local mom or family groups on Facebook or other social media. Be attentive to group rules, as they vary. You may even consider paid advertising on social media.
3. Change your name. Instead of calling your program “VBS,” try something different, vague, or mysterious. One customer, “LisaM,” said, “We steered away from including ‘VBS’ in our signs and ads. We simply called it Spy Camp. What an amazing turn-out! People realized that since we were a church, we would have religious content, but the kids were just so excited to be a part of spy camp.”
4. Distribute yard signs among your church families. The signs can be printed using the logos on the Decorating CD from the Director Resource CD Set. To minimize the cost, have only a few signs printed and then rotate them to different church members’ front yards in the weeks leading up to VBS.
5. Show up in venues that kids already find exciting and fun.
- Have a VBS booth or table at your town’s sidewalk festival.
- Enter a VBS float in community parades.
- Have a VBS booth at a neighborhood carnival.
6. Find exciting, well-known citizens to promote your program. And, of course, we’re suggesting solid Christians with sterling testimonies.
Maybe you have a professional or locally famous athlete in your church or know of one who would be willing to talk up your VBS. Could that person record a message? If not, ask to quote the person and place the quotation in print everywhere you can: your church bulletin, your church website, press releases, posters. Quote him/her on your church’s answering machine.
Okay, maybe a famous athlete is out of your range. How about a local star that 3rd to 6th graders look up to? a high school track star? a junior high basketball star? a popular babysitter? the local (and well-loved) school crossing guard? a local police officer or firefighter (again, well known and well liked by kids)? a popular coach? You get the picture.
And if you don’t have any of those, then recruit the teens in your church to share how much they enjoyed VBS and profited from it when they were kids.
Have teens do promotional skits and give “VBS testimonies” in children’s church and weekday clubs. Make sure you choose well-liked, respected teens to give their testimonies. Also, let them know you’d like them to give specifics and to mention spiritual benefits, not just having fun or making friends.
Staff your float, penny carnival, VBS booths, etc. with as many teens as adults to attract community families to your VBS. Encourage teens to wear VBS buttons. If the teens think VBS is cool, so will the children.
Family-directed advertising will result in more kids attending your VBS.
This is part 5 in a six-part series, Publicize Your VBS. Read “Publicity Overview: Countdown and Checklist,” “Interact with Your Community to Publicize Your VBS,” “12 Weeks’ Worth of One-Liners,” and “Enter a Float in a Community Parade.” Look for “News Releases Invite Your Community.”