Some years ago I had a student leader who when he spoke he would often say something was "really, really true". I would tease him and ask, "Is really really true more true than something being just true?". I recently heard myself saying something was REALLY REALLY true.....that really really true fact is the number one reason students come to a Christian event the first time is a personal invitation.
I continue to believe in promotion, publicity, etc, but have renewed my belief in the reality of personal invitations being a huge key. I have recently been a volunteer assisting my church's College Minister in some of our start of school enlistment events. We have done some really first class events. We spent a significant portion of our fall budget. The simple result has been, regardless of the event and promotion, those best attended were the result of personal invitations.
A friend who leads a large ministry shared with me recntly that his students now seem to be more comfortable inviting and bringing new students to their small groups first rather than to their weekly large group event. That is totally contrary to what has been true for them previously and in all of my experience. He doesn't know quite why. But, we do know that it is REALLY REALLY true that the personal invitation is key.