An idea to unleash the power of geography for your guests
This idea is based on our biggest assimilation learning from 2015. This idea...
- Almost doubled the amount of connection cards we received from guests.
- Lowered the average age of those who attend our First Step events by 20+ years.
- Began lowering the average age of those who signed up to volunteer by about the same.
- Helped increased the attendance of our 7 week First Step Experience by 38% this Winter.
I am embarrassed to tell you what it is because it is so painfully obvious and we missed it for the first 2 and half years at our new facility. Here it is (gulp):
We set up another Guest Central in the place where our young families walk in and out of our facility.
Boom. There it is.
Why was this such a game-changer in connecting with more guests and younger guests at our church? Because our state-of-the-art Guest Central room is just outside the south exit of our auditorium and Kidside is just outside the north exit. You see, young families park in the north parking lot (not the south where Guest Central is) so they can check in their kids to Kidside, enter the auditorium from the north, retracing their steps in reverse when they exit. They never walk past Guest Central or see the south side of our facility at all.
Because our assimilation pipeline begins when a guest exchanges their connection card for an orange cup with homemade cookies at Guest Central, not having a "Guest Central North" had 3 unintended consequences:
- The people we connected to small groups were largely 40+ years old.
- Our visible volunteers in the church were largely 40+ years old.
- We had little need for childcare during First Step with Gene
- Found it hard to assimilate young adults and young families in the First Step environments we created.
So last Fall, we tried something: we moved a cart near the north exit of the auditorium near Kidside with put orange cups on it and a GC Team Member behind it. We had no idea what would happen to those poor volunteers as some weekends we would have just as much activity at the cart as we had in our swanky Guest Central room.
Visiting families do not put their children in Kidside as a rule when they visit for the first time. Children from these families who attended worship with their parents would see the photo of the orange cup on the screen, hear about the cookies, and then drag their parents to the cart when they saw the cups as they exited. These kids were our best connectors and as a result, we are installing a permanent expression of Guest Central out in the hall on the north side of our facility.
Since Guest Central North opened up, we have had the largest First Step with Genes we have ever had, the largest 7-week First Step Experiences we have ever had, and childcare is full during all of it.
So the transferable assimilation principle and idea for the day is a geographical one: put your first guest touch point where the guest are, not where you want them to go!
It makes all the difference in the world...
Tomorrow: another Guest Central move that made people actually sign up and show (What!?) and a save the date for our next Climbing the Assimilayas Base Camp. Stay tuned.
- Where do you want guests to go when they attend your church? Where are they already going? What are their existing traffic patterns?
- If you were to put your first contact point for guests in their existing traffic patterns, where would you put it? What obstacles need to be removed for that to work?
- Is there a temporary experimentthat might be a geographical "tell all" for you if you did it for 2 to 4 weeks?