The idea of “church marketing” often causes pastors to cringe. Many churches understandably balk at the idea of mixing business principles and sharing the faith. They feel like they are somehow diminishing the Gospel. This is despite the fact that today’s business marketing practices are really just modern-day modifications of what missionaries and churches have done for centuries. So often churches miss out on the benefits that church marketing can bring. Don’t make this mistake, instead embrace the benefits of modern marketing principles and build fully integrated marketing campaigns that create awareness around your ministry.
What is a fully integrated church marketing campaign?
A fully-integrated church marketing campaign is one that nurtures multiple outreach tools and strategies. These campaigns attract guests to visit and stay long after their first Sunday. For example, a church plans a large Christmas event and uses a direct mail strategy to target families in their neighborhood. Meanwhile, they create an event on Facebook and post about it often. They also gather members and spread out with door hangers and invite cards in their neighborhoods and in areas near the church. Signs are put up at the church to attract passing traffic and inside of the church invitations, bulletins and banners coordinate. All the materials for these strategies look similar, building familiarity with the recipient.
Ever heard of the “Rule of Seven”? It’s the principle that it takes at least seven engagements with your audience do get them to take the action you want them to take. And it’s not as simple as shouting “Come visit us!” through a megaphone on the street seven times. Just like your average local shop or large retailer, it takes multiple small connections using various marketing methods to show people what your church is about. To generate excitement and anticipation. And, finally, to get your potential visitor to make a decision.
Church marketing creates awareness.
Why, exactly, are we using church marketing in the first place? To create awareness! As mentioned above, it takes at least seven times of hearing your message to get your audience to take action. And what action do you want them to take? To visit your church, of course. To experience God’s love and the power of the Gospel on their lives.
The only way to accomplish this is to let people in your community know that you exist in the first place. By sending a direct mail postcard, your church is showing people you are a friendly, welcoming place where they can learn more about God. When they drive by and see signs sharing upcoming events, you’re reinforcing the message on your postcard. When your church shows up in their Facebook feed, when they receive an invite card from their neighbor, when they find a doorhanger on their door, you’re making them aware of your church at multiple touch points. The result? When your recipient is ready to make a decision about church, yours is the first place they’ll think of and yours is the one they will visit.
Church marketing gets your name into the minds and hearts of your community. In an incredibly busy, far-spread society, your church has to reach further than ever before to connect with your potential new members. Modern marketing practices help you do just that.
Experience: Making Your Church Marketing Efforts Pay Off
Any pastor knows that simply getting someone to visit church is no guarantee that they will instantly become a member. So, what makes people stay? According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, the main factors that determine attendance are the preaching and the tone set by the leadership. It’s a big deal—83% of those polled say the message is a primary influence in their decision to stay. Just as many churchgoers say that feeling welcomed is equally important. Essentially, it’s the church experience that keeps people coming back after you’ve gotten them to make the first visit. What are some other experiential factors impacting attendance?
- Atmosphere: As stated above, nearly 83% of visitors want to feel welcomed by the church they visit. Do you have door greeters to welcome and guide people as they come in? Is your church culture chatty and friendly? Do you have a post-sermon coffee hour to support mixing and mingling? Do you follow up after their visit with a call or email? These steps are signals to your visitor that you want them to keep coming back and make your church their “home”.
- Location: 70% of people polled in the Pew Research Study say this is a huge factor. Obviously, you can’t move your church to suit every person in your city. You can, however, make sure you are inviting people in your area, so the chances of success are greater. And if you’re the only church of your denomination in the city, consider helping those who wish to attend get to church by offering rides or encouraging carpooling among members.
- Children’s programs: One of the hardest things for young families is managing childcare, and this includes church involvement. They worry about their children interrupting services, the safety of their children in Sunday school, the quality of the programming and more. You can help them by: A. Offering a children’s ministry and; B. Being very informative about that ministry.
As you can see, a fully integrated church marketing campaign is very important to your overall ministry strategy. Creating awareness through a multi-channel campaign will make you known to potential visitors and encourage them to meet you. Back it up with a positive overall experience, and your church will begin to benefit from an increase in new members and awareness.