There’s a thing in christian and other conferences circles. It’s the publicity stands that adorn the outskirts of many a conference hall or networking event. They’re usually manned by ‘the weekend staff’ a volunteer or the sole person in the organisation who has to be there to advertise the organisation or project or opportunity.
The stands bring out an array of reactions.
What’s noticeable from running a stand at a variety of places is that the mixture of reactions by the general public to such publicity stands.
Heres a few of the more popular ones;
1. The ‘can I get away with just taking a leaflet and not have a conversation’ person. These people often glide past the stall holder, give no eye contact and head straight to the table, the leaflet, pick it up, give it a read, quite seriously.
2. The ‘glazed eye view’ these people are easy to spot. They walk past stands with glazed eyes, polite smile but then walk on.
3. The overkeen. Mega enthusiastic people, go to every stand, sign up to everything but don’t commit to anything.
4. The freebie frenzy. They leave the christian conference with 30 free pencils, badges, USB sticks, 200 leaflets, 30 sweets.
5. The long conversation, difficult question people. Usually they appear when there’s 20 other people who look actually interested but you end up using up all your attention on the responses from this awkward customer who wants to know your theological position on mission or why anyone should do youth work with young people outside the church. Meanwhile the resources and possibility of 20 others goes untapped.
6. The person who thinks you’re someone else. So after a long conversation and interest, the persons says ‘oh I thought you were from ________ organisation, not that one, sorry to waste your time, (sigh).
7. The person who only wants the free pencil, but acts politely and has a conversatiom just to not feel too guilty about taking it.
8. And yes there’s the perfect person. Who asks good questions, listens intently and signs up, and then emails back and then participates in the programmes, course or opportunity. But its probably about 1 in every 8 people. Actually it’s more like 1 in every 18.
So. The conference stands, from the other side we watch how our displays have a strange reaction on the conference delegates. I guess from the other point of view there are a few approaches that work well for attracting people to a specific publicity stand and in a competitive christian market place these can be bigger brighter and more outlandish. Yet often the more useful or appropriate ministry for you in a church or as an individual might be the smaller stand or might not even be there at all playing the conference publicity game. Because for 1 opportunity out of 15-18 it’s often a tough gig and time consuming. Though there can be some really good networking & conversations between stand holders and shared opportunities too.