Something amazing happened yesterday. We opened registration for Winter Camp 2016 and in just 24 short hours, nearly 200 kids were registered. To clarify, Winter Camp is still 4.5 months away and over half of the kids who will come signed up on the opening day of registration. But it wasn’t an accident. We simply aligned momentum with our strategy and then just watched it all happen.

Here’s what we did:

First of all, we’ve really refined our strategy over the past 2-3 years. Just about everything points to small groups now. We put almost all our energy and resources into ensuring that small groups is what we do best in our ministry.

Secondly, we’ve built a reputation for putting on an amazing Winter Camp experience. Even though weekend attendance hasn’t really grown the last few years, Winter Camp attendnace has grown by 20% every year. It’s what our kids look forward to and everyone wants to come, including our leaders. That’s where the momentum comes from.

side note: Winter Camp is one of the most strategic things we do as a ministry. We moved from summer camp to a long weekend in January so that all our small group leaders could participate. Every year we have 90% of our small group leaders participate meaning that the leaders are doubling the time they get in a year with their kids. This wasn’t an accident.

We realized that if we wanted to provide a killer small group experience for kids and students, we needed to cast compelling vision for both parents and small group leaders and somehow get them in the same room at least once a year. We wanted them to seem themselves as partners. So, we started a “back to school” Family BBQ a couple of years ago. We realized that some parents would really want to come to an event like this and many would opt not to come. So we decided to leverage momentum, otherwise known as a great bribe. For every 3rd-12th grade kids who comes to the BBQ (with their parents), they would get a $50 off promo code for Winter Camp, good only for the day Winter Camp registration opens (which was yesterday).

We had nearly 900 people present at our BBQ and 280 people texted in to receive the promo code.

another side note: At the BBQ, we programed an upbeat 30-40 minute program where we had 20 minutes to cast vision for what a partnership between parents and small group leaders could look like. We gave practical examples of what parents could do and what small group leaders could do. Then we dismissed everyone to a meet and greet before we served dinner. Here’s my favorite part. Everyone needed a meal ticket to get dinner and the small group leaders had all the meal tickets. Yes, we kinda forced connections, but it worked. It’s called manipulation strategy.

Yesterday, when Winter Camp registration opened, we texted the 280 people who got the promo code and reminded them to register since the promo code was only good for the one day.
The end result:

  • The momentum that is Winter Camp got hundreds and hundreds of families to show up to a strategic event where they could meet their kids small group leaders.
  • The momentum that is saving money for Winter Camp got over half of the kids who are coming to camp to sign up in the first day, months before the event begins.
  • All of this works together and in the end, kids and families win because we just doubled the time kids will get in their small group this year.

pablo (1)Sure, this was an expensive stunt (however not as expensive as last year as we were still figuring this out), but not as expensive as you might expect. In the end, the BBQ cost us less than $1000. We worked relationships and opportunities and provided a fun event and a delicious meal for not a lot of money. The $50 promo code actually costs us $30 per kid meaning that the special discount cost us a little over $5,ooo. However, every registration that comes in over the next four months nets us $20. In the end, it will cost us a little over $2000, and we budget for this loss in our camp revenue/expenses.

Regardless, every penny is worth it. Creating incredible and authentic small group experiences is at the center of our strategic target and anything that helps us do that is worth funding.

Spend time thinking about strategy and momentum. Anytime you can align your strategy with the things that easily generate momentum, everyone wins!