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4 Must-Know Church Marketing Secrets

Church Marketing

I once had the opportunity to share at a gathering of United Methodist Church leaders near Washington D.C. I shared four things I think church leaders need to know about church marketing. Below are some notes and videos I shared with them. Enjoy!

I believe passionately that the local church is the hope of the world, and I believe we’ve got the greatest message that’s out there: the message of the Gospel. I carry the conviction that the greatest message deserves the greatest church marketing, creativity, and storytelling.

Marketers spend millions of dollars every single year to tell us that our lives would be better or enhanced with the products, services, or ideas they are selling.

We aren’t about selling salvation as a product, trying to woo people to our services, or trying to convince them to convert to what we think. We are about seeing the trajectory of people’s lives changed and hearts surrendered to the Gospel.

I believe that with every generation comes the challenge of communicating the unchanging, timeless message of the Gospel in a way that is relevant and compelling to the culture of its time.

We live in a generation that has been influenced and shaped by marketing and now we need to focus on church marketing. If you want your brand or church to grow, you can actually source some content creation from professionals who are topnotch in the industry.

God is the author of creativity. The first glimpse we see of Him in creation is that He is a creative God.

I believe that we are called to reflect that same creativity in whatever it is that we do for Him—and in this instance, in how we market and communicate His message to the community where our churches find themselves.

Traditional Marketing

  • Traditional marketing, by definition, means “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services.”
  • Marketing as we know it today was deeply influenced by the Madmen era of advertising executives.
  • Those ideas have created a tidal wave of commercial messages that have interrupted our daily lives.
  • The average person is exposed to over 3,000 commercial images every single day. That’s nearly one million per year.
  • Everywhere you look, there’s a constant barrage of messages and information trying to get our attention.
  • The result of that is we’ve learned to filter out the noise.
  • We record TV shows to our DVRs, and fast-forward the commercials.
  • We glaze over banner ads and pop-up windows.
  • We are sick of marketing.
  • We are sick of being “sold to.”
  • We’ve learned to be untrusting of what’s being sold to us.
  • This generation has lost trust in marketing, big business, politics, and religion.
  • The rules of marketing have changed.
  • Marketers have even gone so far as to redefine marketing.
  • In 2011, the American Marketing Association changed their definition of marketing to say marketing is, “an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”
  • It’s moved from promoting and selling to adding value and managing relationships.
  • You can’t buy your way to the top, and you can’t win by plastering your name everywhere.
  • What captures people’s attention today isn’t a clever jingle or great art and copy [although those things can help]; it’s compelling stories, emotional connection, and sharing.
  • That commercial was for a Web browser.
  • Ten years ago, a commercial message would have focused on the features and explained why Google Chrome was one of the best Web browsers for you to use.
  • Instead, this commercial focused on the story. It gives you emotional connection. It’s less about the product and more about the story it helps you tell.
  • It works.

4 Things You Need to Know About Church Marketing:

1. Church Marketing isn’t a line item on your budget.

    • It’s not a group or committee of volunteers.
    • It’s not what you do at Easter and Christmas.
    • It’s not fliers, brochures, mailers, or even your Web site.
    • Marketing is the sum total of everything your church does.
    • Every phone call a staff member takes is marketing.
    • Everything you write for your church Web site is marketing.
    • Every usher, greeter, and children’s worker is marketing.
    • Every word your pastor says [or doesn’t say] is marketing.
    • Every e-mail interaction someone has with a member of your church staff is marketing.
    • Every person who attends your church is church marketing.
    • Everything your church does is church marketing.
    • The challenging part of all this is how much of it is out of our control.
    • We can try to manage perceptions, set standards and expectations, and create compelling media and slick brochures, but it’s everything everyone else does that truly markets your church.
    • Church marketing is a team effort that’s not on the shoulders of a single person or department in your church, but the collaborative efforts of everyone (paid staff, volunteers, and attendees) that ultimately defines your church marketing.
    • What message are the experiences people have with your church communicating?
    • What does your marketing say about you and your church?
    • What different aspects of people’s experiences with your church need to be reworked?
  • Is there a disconnect between what you say and what people experience?
  • Where are the gaps in your church marketing?
  • Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Starbucks marketed like a church?

Read Marketing Secret #2 >>