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A Merry Music City Christmas was all about reaching out to Cross Point Church?s city of Nashville, Tennessee. It started out as a dream to have snow sledding outside of the church one Sunday, but quickly?turned into a citywide family event.

For the event to succeed, they had to reach out beyond their own people, to residents who lived around the church. They tried a few things and learned a few lessons along the way that they?ll be taking into this and the next few years they do the event.

Advertising & Publicity

Because they barely had the budget to put this event together, they had even less money to work with for advertising and publicity. They talked about putting up billboards around the city, but they decided against it. They wanted to spend their money on the event. They knew a strong event for this first year would be the best advertising they could have for future years.[quote]They knew a strong event for this first year would be the best advertising they could have for future years.[/quote]

They did, however, get a couple of local radio stations on board. One radio DJ in particular (who hosts his own show in the area) helped support the event quite a bit. One of the big moments during the concerts at A Merry Music City Christmas was a video where they gave a volunteer from their congregation a new car and a Christmas shopping spree. This radio DJ helped support and promote that. Then other radio shows came along and helped them by spreading the word about the event.

They also have a few people that attend Cross Point who are on staff at local news stations. They worked with them to get some connections into the news media to create buzz about the event. News stations were there on the first day and they got some media coverage, which helped launch it and strengthen the subsequent days.

As they reboot this year, they?d like to get more news and radio part of the equation in advance. Last year, this was a brand new event, and until the spectacle is over, it?s hard to get the news to cover it.[quote]Until the spectacle is over, it?s hard to get the news to cover it.[/quote]

Another thing they?ve learned since this event that they?d like to do more is to use Facebook ads. They?ve previously invested in mailers, but last Easter they experimented with Facebook ads instead?investing their entire budget into that. It was pure gold for them. They found it to be a great opportunity to get very specific with their?target audience?where they live, age bracket, children/no children, etc. It gave them so much control over who saw their messages.

So this year they?ll be heavy into dark posts and Facebook ads. (They found they don?t like boosting Facebook statuses. It sabotages future ads. Pure dark posts are great, though.)

Tickets

They used tickets as a primary source to encourage their congregation to invite their friends. It also helped them gauge the amount of people to expect at each concert. Because they can only seat 1,600 people in their auditorium per event, they wanted to make sure they were prepared. They debated back and forth on the idea of exclusive tickets, but ultimately decided this is what they?d try.[quote]Tickets weren?t as reliable of a measure as they had hoped.[/quote]

They learned last year, though, that the tickets weren?t as reliable of a measure as they had hoped. For the first day, they required everyone to have a ticket in order to attend the live concert that evening. Only 50% of the ticket-holders actually came out to the concert. A lot of people came to the outside event for 1 1/2 hours and then went to dinner. They expected this to happen a little bit, but not to the degree that it actually happened. So for the next night they gave away 2,000 tickets (via e-vite), hoping that would help even out the disparity a little bit. They played with that number each night.

They ultimately learned that tickets were a great way to invite, but not a great way to gauge how many people would come in. One of the things they learned in the past was that it works great to give people a hard invite tool. But that isn?t enough in itself. So they coupled that with social media to get maximum effect.

Social Media

To remind their congregation to invite their friends and family, they used social media. Every now and then they?d post a reminder and an idea on how to use the invite tool (the ticket). For instance, they?d post, ?Next time you?re filling up on gas, give a ticket to the guy across the way from you.? Each post was a specific way that the attendee could invite someone in a non-threatening way.

They also pushed serving and attending through social media outlets. They tried a lot of different tricks as far as social media was concerned.

They?re always looking for ways to refine how they use social media so it doesn?t seem like all they ever do is ask their congregation to do something for them. There has definitely been a progression in how they ask for people to be part.[quote]The spirit of their external communication was about giving, not just asking.[/quote]

The spirit of this event was a gift given to their city. Thus the spirit of their external communication was about giving, not just asking. Imagine if all our communication efforts at our churches happened from that perspective.

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