This is kind of a no-brainer. Flyer canvassing has been around since the elections of the Roman Republic and probably earlier. For many years, this type of handout distribution has been the staple of VBS promotion in our country and in our synod. It is a tried and true method. The flyer is a physical thing that a potential VBS parent can hold in their hands and hopefully tape to their refrigerator.
Here’s what you need:
Flyer: Simple is best: Who, what, when, where. Use color, if possible, and be sure to include your church logo. Consider including a simple Gospel message on the backside of the flyer. After all, “the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Include a photo of your church or kids participating in VBS at your church, or any graphics that are related to the theme of your program. Make sure it’s clearly visible where people should be going to register. You can either do a full-page (8.5×11) design on front and back, or you could do a smaller postcard design (8.5×5.5 — half of a full sheet of paper) on both sides.
Distribution plan: Consider requesting the help of the CLC’s Traveling Vacation Bible School (TVBS) to help with flyer distribution. Their flyer teams can usually distribute between 5,000-10,000 flyers/week. Otherwise, hold a Flyer Distribution Day with volunteers at your church about 2-3 weeks before VBS (studies show this is the ideal timing). Map out the neighborhoods where you want to distribute. Place flyers in screen doors and under the corners of doormats (not in mailboxes; that’s illegal). Try to distribute as many flyers as possible; quantity is key.
Peace Thru Christ in Middleton, WI has had success advertising through local parents event websites, such as this one: https://hulafrog.com/madison-wi. Think of these as more specific versions of Facebook advertising, where you create a profile for your church and advertise certain event dates, providing details on the event and directing people to a registration form. Parents browse these websites specifically for events for their children, so you’re speaking directly to the target demographic on websites like these. Our church had 10 non-members come to last summer’s VBS with help advertising in this way. Best of all, advertising here is completely free to set up.
It’s good to advertise on as many websites as possible. Go for bigger social media advertising, but also try to find local websites where you know parents may browse.
Finding websites is important, but an equally important thing to do is figure out how you want to advertise. The right strategy is key to a consistent message and will make the work easier. Here are some steps:
Message: Start a word doc that contains a paragraph description (keep it simple and short) of the event, and use it as a template for any post you might make on any website. Here’s what Peace Thru Christ did:
Join us daily from 9:00-11:30 AM the week of July 29-August 2nd for our free Vacation Bible School! Children will learn about our Savior through Bible stories, crafts, music, games and more. Refreshments will also be provided. We accept children from Preschool-8th Grade, and can arrange transportation if needed. Registration is required if you plan to attend, please visit here to register: https://peacethruchrist.org/school/vbs/
CTA: Make sure that the call to action (CTA) is driving to the same place no matter where you post online. This could be a link directly to a registration form, or it could be a link to a VBS page on your church’s website with more information along with a registration form.
Photos: Including photos with anything you advertise is a must. This could be a graphic of the VBS theme, a photo of kids attending VBS, or something similar.
With your ad strategy worked out, it’s then just a matter of posting it in as many places as possible!
Your church building itself needs to be doing everything possible to make the news about your upcoming VBS obvious to the neighborhood. Use Vistaprint.com or Zazzle.com or some other comparable website to order your church one or more custom banners to be displayed on the church property itself. Bigger is better – at least 2.5’x8’. Consider the example below which includes a blank white space for changeable dates in order to be reused year after year:
When a church member, especially a parent, invites a non-member to bring their children or when member children invite their non-member friends, this often seems to be one of the most effective ways to promote VBS in our communities.
If your church hosts other events for adults or children (Bible Classes, Sunday Schools, Play Groups) that have good non-member attendance, be sure to bring up VBS during those gatherings and give people flyers. This is a good way to “cross-advertise” different church events.
Studies have shown that a typical church member has on the average six to eight unchurched friends or acquaintances, not to mention friends or acquaintances who attend another church but would be willing to send their children to our VBS. Of course, this figure may vary greatly from place to place, but six to eight solid relationships is more than enough to constitute a single Christian’s personal mission field. This number of unchurched friends or acquaintances has been described by some as the Christian’s FRAN network (his Friends, Relatives, Associates, and Neighbors). Even a relatively small congregation with 35 members may have as many as 210 – 280 people whose lives are in some degree or another intertwined with members of the congregation – quite a mission field. Especially for promoting VBS!