Church Marketing Sucks, What’s Working For You?
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When Terry asked us to write a ‘What’s Working For You' piece we immediately went to his site to see what this was even about. We saw a pile of wisdom from a wide array of folks about marketing, leadership and spirituality. What a cool idea. So here’s what’s working:
THE INTERNET & BLOGS
Without a doubt, the most obvious thing that’s working for us is the Internet in general and blogs specifically. Churches need to be utilizing the web, and not merely as a glorified phone book ad. Nearly two-thirds of online Americans use the web for religious purposes (Pew Internet & American Life Project PDF). Blogs are an amazing way to connect people to a purpose. More church leaders (who can actually write) need to be getting into the blogging habit. This helps potential visitors get to know, and current attendees stay in the know. It gives a personal connection to a person, not an institution or establishment.
While the Internet is a great way to connect people, it’s not the only way. Direct mail is still a reliably efficient tool for reaching local communities. Just ask Bay Area Fellowship. It’s not as expensive as you might think and it has one of the highest response rates.
BRANDING & IDENTITY
Before most churches spend any money on advertising and promotion they need to take stock of where they are. It’s too easy to waste money on ineffective promotions. Before spending any money a church needs to be sure they’re presenting a consistent, intentional image. They need a good logo and tagline, an effective identity and brand that fits who they are. It adds immeasurably to any other effort you undertake.
CONSISTENCY & REPETITION
Most churches fail at this one. They aren’t consistent about their marketing and they fail to repeat the message often enough for it to sink in. Your logo is useless if you don’t use it consistently. Your tagline is pointless if your congregation doesn’t hear it enough to remember it. Consistent persistence is the phrase that pays.
What’s working so often starts with a good idea. Brilliant design can never save a bad idea. But if you’re working with a good idea, success is that much closer. And that’s often what churches need. A good idea is NOT slapping your name and logo on a postcard and sending them to the neighborhood. A good idea is a formulated plan about what you’re promoting, why you’re promoting it, and how you’re going to promote it. Starting an after-school study hall for teens too busy for another Bible study is a good idea.
WORD OF MOUTH
Most churches thrive on word of mouth. While my church doesn’t have any lofty marketing plans, we do have very strong word of mouth. Why? People connect with our church, like the approach, and tell their friends. If people like their church they should be talking it up with their friends, just like they’d recommend a good movie or a restaurant. If your congregation isn’t talking up your church, something’s wrong.
Church marketing often comes down to people. As Christians, we are walking billboards for the Church. A genuine Christian can often do more for a church than all the postcards, billboards and TV commercials you’ll ever run.