In Part 1 of this article, we discussed the first secret to effective church marketing: Building a Dynamic Ministry Marketing Team. Part 2 explores the best way to build a ministry marketing plan.
Secret Two: Create a Ministry Marketing Plan
The success of your marketing efforts relies heavily on creating a strategic plan in advance of your outreach. Like retailers, your marketing should be broken down into quarters or seasons to make the work easier to plan and execute.
Your plan should include:
Budget: How much will you spend on your outreach in the year ahead?
Calendar: How many events and activities will you host this year?
Tools: How will you market your church? How will you allocate your budget?
Your budget is a foundational element of your effective church marketing plan. It’s important to commit a decent amount of funding to your efforts in order to see positive returns on your investment (i.e. visitors).
Marketing can help your church go from invisible to visible. For the best return on your investment, focus on creating unforgettable campaigns that have the same look and feel across every area, from your direct mail postcard, to the banners outside the church and handouts during services.
Determine at least 5 campaigns / efforts for your annual spending. Below are some suggestions for segmenting your campaigns. The items highlighted in bold indicate the highest church traffic (Easter, Christmas, and Mother’s Day, respectively).
- January / February (New Year campaign / Valentine’s Day)
- March / April – Easter
- May – Mother’s Day
- June/July (VBS / Summer)
- August (Fall back to church)
- October (Harvest)
- November / December – Advent / Christmas
At the end of each campaign, perform a thorough assessment of your efforts verses your results. Did one tool work better than others for bringing visitors to your door? Which events saw the highest attendance? By tracking your successes, you can keep your budget focused on the actions that work, saving time and money.
Calendar of Events
Once you have determined your various campaigns, you will then decide on events for your outreach. Events are a great opportunity to engage your community in addition to your Sunday sermons. The help people connect with you, understand your message, and become involved with your church. Here are a few ideas for outreach events:
Holiday/Celebration Sermon Series
- Mother’s Day
- Guest Speaker or Special Event
- Potluck BBQ/Picnic
- Vacation Bible School/Kid’s Camps
- Movie Nights
- Coat drives
- Community clean-up
- Shelter support
- Back-to-School Drive
- Parents’ Night Out
- Harvest Festival/Halloween Alternative
A portion of your budget should be applied to your church outreach efforts and tools. These are the methods you will use to advertise your events and make your church known to your community. You will want to invest in a multi-touch approach that reaches your audience in several different areas of their lives. Make sure that your message and design are consistent across every piece, i.e. the direct mail postcard and Invite Cards have the same look and feel as the church posters and handouts, creating a cohesive campaign.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket! High conversion rates won’t happen with just one medium, so employ a multi-touch approach.
Direct mail is one of the most effective church marketing tools available. It helps you easily reach people in your area and invite them to visit your church. More than 85% of people check their mail each day, which means they are sure to come into contact with your mailer. Best practices include a adding a map, service times, inviting language and offer of a gift.
- New Mover Postcards
- Event Postcards
- Holiday Postcards
Providing your guests with invite tools empowers them to easily share your church with their friends, families and neighbors. According to Christianity Today, 67% of people say that they would be receptive to a personal invite from their family and 63% would be receptive to an invite from an acquaintance.
- Door Hangers
- Invite Cards
Banners & Signs
Indoor and outdoor banners and signs inform passerby and members of upcoming events and get your church noticed.
- Outdoor Banners
- Roll-up Banners
- Indoor Banners
Other Media (Facebook, Twitter, Website, Blogs)
Social media is one of the largest FREE tools you can utilize to share your event. To optimize your reach:
- Post often
- Encourage members to share your content
- Keep content fresh, relevant, and engaging
- Use video and lots of graphics
Remember, high responses are not possible through one single channel. Effective church marketing involves multiple methods over a period of time to keep your church top of mind.
With your ministry marketing plan established, it’s time to focus on the importance of helping visitors become new members.
Continued in Part 3…
The final part of this article will show you how to make a lasting first impression at your church. Read Part 3