Are You Preaching to Empty Seats?

Verbal advertising is limited. Our interest is to reach the mixed multitude. To do this, we must consider the value of tried and proved methods.

ARNE  E.  PETERSON

Every evangelist realizes the value of advertising. Let us suppose you were to hold a series of lectures at a given place and time, but told no one about the meetings, how many people could you expect to be there? Now, suppose you told a few friends—how many could you expect to attend? Possibly a few friends. And should you announce it to the church congregation you could expect, at best, no more to attend but those in the congregation, and possibly a few of their friends.

Verbal advertising is limited. Our interest is to reach the mixed multitude. To do this, we must consider the value of tried and proved methods.

Let us consider some of the methods that best lend themselves to your needs. Much could be said about the value of understanding, studying, and appreciating the various types of advertising the public is accustomed to seeing, for this is the element you, the evange­list, must be prepared to compete with, if you hope to be successful in your advertising.

Here is a list of some of the methods of advertising that have proved themselves : posters, handbills, newspapers, bumper cards, billboards, blotters, letters, radio, telephone. Your budget will limit your use of these various mediums. For this reason it is important to consider their respective value.

Posters are placed at the head of the list because this is one medium that reaches the greatest mixed audience. The fact is that every­one who would be physically able to attend your meetings enjoys window shopping. Win­dow shopping has trained the eyes of the public to scan the store windows as they pass by. This offers a wonderful opportunity for you to attract the public's eye to lecture announcements, and usually at no cost whatever for the space.

Posters continue to attract the eyes of the readers as they pass from store to store, giving you the greatest return for your advertising investment—the valuable use of repetition. I would like to point out at this time the added value of an extravagant use of posters, for it is through this repeated impression that the poster gains an audience for you. Repetition arouses curiosity, and curiosity leads to investigation. Obviously, color and illustration play a tre­mendous part in attracting and holding the eye to a particular poster.

It would be all right to use ordinary posters if you were the only person advertising, but since this is not the case, you must consider the competition you have with other users of window-card advertising. Fortunately for you, the general user of the window card resorts, in the main, to type-set, word posters, of only one or two colors. Consider the advantage you have when you place a colorfully illustrated poster next to the average dance, theater, pic­nic, or sports announcement thatfinds its way into show windows.

The second medium on our list is the hand­bill. This form of advertising has advantage over newspaper ads. First, its distribution can be more readily controlled as to time and place. It attracts attention to itself and enjoys the advantages of being an exclusive advertisement, void of any competition such as that of the newspaper ad. It has no editorial restrictions, which lends itself favorably to the propagation of our Adventist message.

Another disadvantage of the newspaper over the handbill is that its news appears in classi­fied sections. Not everyone reads the religious section of the newspaper.

It may appear that this is an attempt to dis­credit the value of newspaper advertising. That is not the case, for I agree with those evangelists who have considered their news­paper advertising to be invaluable. Some of the advantages of newspaper- advertising are large circulation coverage, and free space, which, of course, is limited to the religious section, unless space is purchased elsewhere in the paper. The advertising is usually worth every cent you would have to pay for that space, for you then would be able to make use of a cut to add greater attention value to your ad, and you could place it in a more prominent section of the paper. I am merely discussing relative advantages of these mediums.

Type and Amount of Advertising

In planning your effort, you should evaluate each medium and use only that which you feel will give you the best results for the amount of money you have to spend. In the advertising world this would be termed an advertising cam­paign. Some preachers have had to learn by the expensive way that it takes a combination of mediums to attract large audiences, not just one medium. It is my humble opinion that the three mediums discussed should be a part, of every campaign. The size of the city determines the amount of advertising to be used. A small campaign is like a whisper, and is usually not heard by many. In order to be heard you must shout ! Your advertising is your voice to the public.

I have heard preachers speak with dis­couragement as they related their fruitless ex­periences through advertising. They tried a handbill one time, a poster another time, a news­paper ad another time, each as a separate small endeavor—three whispers. If the same adver­tising had been planned and synchronized as a campaign, with each medium used to express the same subject or series of meetings, they would have enjoyed a more effective result. If the three whispers were united, they would become a shout.

The remaining mediums on our list—bumper cards, blotters, letters, radio, and telephone—have distinctive advantages too numerous to permit a separate study of each. These may be used, any and all with a campaign, with the thought kept in mind that here again we enjoy a harmonious repetition of our advertising story through mediums. Your audience become more and more conscious of your advertising as they see more of it.

You should not overlook the advantages of harmonizing your various mediums by the use of a theme, picture, or symbol. A picture or symbol is most effective, for there are many who will not read the ad, but they can't help noticing the repeated use of a picture or symbol. Then the element of curiosity enters in, and the person will scan the rest of the ad. The use of many mediums gives contrast to your cam­paign; for by presenting your advertising in a variety of sizes and shapes, it attracts additional attention.

You will find in this issue Of THE MINISTRY part of a new series of stock posters. These posters were designed to supply the needs of the preacher with a limited budget. Should you compare the cost of printing a small weekly run of posters announcing your lectures, with that of procuring these stock posters, which are beautifully illustrated in color, you would be surprised to find that not only would you have a far superior poster, but you would be paying less, in some cases.

These posters are processed on a waterproof, six-ply cardboard, or on paper for overseas use. They are not printed with ordinary ink, but have a coat of waterproof paint that will with­stand all weather conditions.

Another unique feature is the location of the blank space for your address. This falls in the same place on all designs, enabling you, if you so desire, to take a few posters of all designs, and have the printer print the address on all of them at one time. If a very small quantity of posters is being used, this information could be inserted on the poster by hand.

Any additional information about this service will be cheerfully furnished upon request. Write to Religious Arts, P.O. Box 368, Islip, New York.

Arne E. Peterson


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ARNE  E.  PETERSON

September 1947

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