When was the last time you looked critically, as a newcomer might, at the front of your Meeting House?
Does it look inviting? Welcoming? Or a bit run down? Even somewhere you might be concerned about your personal safety?
Have you ever tried to find out about your local meeting without knowing anything about it? I remember when Residential Yearly Meeting was held in Exeter University – it was pointed out that the local Meeting wasn’t included in the ‘where to worship’ bit of the University’s local information pack. We were assured that was to be put right.
First you might want to put a notice outside the Meeting House to say that there are rooms to hire, giving rates, terms and any conditions you might have (eg “no alcohol or children’s parties”). Ensure that whatever telephone or email address you list is monitored and any messages answered promptly.
Secondly, you might ask your members and attenders if they would be willing to mention the Meeting House to any groups and associations they belong to. Another leaflet could be produced giving the same information as above with the addition of a map and directions (including any public transport links and whether parking is available). These could be given out at local fairs, put up in local shops or libraries, or given to the members and attenders to hand out or put up further afield.
Thirdly, you might want to put a noticeboard outside that shows what sort of events and classes are held in your Meeting House.
This does several things:
- It is likely to draw attention to your building as people look for classes and events. They might even stop to look at the Quaker information too.
- It supports the people and businesses who use your building as their venue, helping them stay in business (and hopefully continuing to supply you with income).
- Finally, this helps generate community. You could even consider putting up community notices if you have space.
All of these are positive things… and increase the likelihood of people using the building and therefore paying in money.
O.k. You’ve done all of those – what next?
Hopefully your Meeting has at least a basic website which can give someone information on where to find you. The main Quaker.org.uk website has that much on each meeting – searching for “Exeter” in their “Find a Meeting” database brings up Exeter Quaker Meeting.
But of course that doesn’t help someone who wants to run a yoga class or is looking for a venue for their new business, as they’re unlikely to look for a Meeting House unless they’ve used one previously.
If you have a Meeting website adding a page for ‘rooms to hire’ with dated information and at least one photograph is a good place to start. Dated so people will be reassured that you have looked at it recently – which does mean that it does need to be updated regularly. Think of it as the online equivalent to the noticeboard above. You need to maintain it and ensure it looks welcoming.
If you have several Meeting Houses in your local Area Meeting which hire out rooms, do the people organising these talk to each other? Are you close enough geographically that they are able to refer someone they cannot help to you, or accept a referral from you?
Have you considered looking for local websites such as Churches Together or local Business Forums which encourage people to shop or run businesses locally?
Have you investigated Google Places? Considered putting a poster up at your local train, bus, or tube station?
If you think these sound like great ideas but wonder where to start, I’d be happy to hear from you. I’m always interested in helping a Meeting come up with a locally based marketing plan – click on the Contact tab at the top or email me on Wendrie at Mindful Business Services dot com.
This was the second in a series of three. For number one
or number three