Church marketing is extraordinarily difficult sometimes. While centuries ago, churches were natural gathering places, today many congregations have trouble spreading the word. After all, with limited resources and minimal staff, there’s hardly any time for Facebook posts or rampant retweeting.
But these seven golden rules of church marketing can help. With a little savvy and the help of promotional products, a church marketing plan can bring in new parishioners, more donations and a swell of spirit and excitement.
1. Put your name front and center
Alongside faith and the church itself, a congregation’s greatest unifying trait is its name. A church’s name can say everything, from its denomination to its location, so it’s possibly the most powerful marketing tool at your disposal. When you send out pamphlets, your church’s name should be the largest text on there. Want to share church T-shirts or journals with your parishioners? Include the church name in large font on each promotional item.
2. Always examine and critique your aesthetic
This doesn’t mean the building itself, but rather the imagery associated with your church. Look at the font of the church’s name as it appears on letterhead, promotional gear and signs. Does it feel too archaic, or is it too lighthearted? What does the color imply? View these small things as a prospective visitor would.
3. Don’t be afraid of a little change
Change can seem overwhelming or contrary to church beliefs, but often it all depends on how you look at those changes. For instance, some churches may shy away from using technology or modern conveniences as part of a sermon or event.
Cameron Ware, who works as a lighting and environmental projection director and adviser for churches around the country, noted that these modern features have their roots in old cathedrals. Speaking to the tongue-in-cheek church promotion website Church Marketing Sucks, Ware explained that visual worship has always been part of the theme, from stained glass to mosaics and the architectural wonders of ancient cathedrals.
4. Update your website regularly
Nowadays, when people are researching anything–whether it’s the local church or the best local Thai restaurant–it’s usually through Google. Make your presence known online with a well-designed church website. A few basic tips: use large, high resolution images, always include your church’s info on every single page and make sure your user interface is clean and clear.
5. Expand your web presence
Your actual website is only the beginning of your online presence. There’s a lot more that can be done. Consider creating a blog where staff can write out daily or weekly thoughts or post recent sermons. Developing a Facebook presence can also be helpful, as it acts as a secondary website featuring essential information for your congregation. Facebook is a great way to update parishioners on upcoming events, too.
6. Don’t discount old tips and tricks
Email, Twitter, blogs – these are all useful tools for church marketing, but they can’t permanently supplant older techniques. Continuing to use church mailers, for example is an effective method of reaching out to parishioners and welcoming new members into the fold. Help potential churchgoers feel like they belong by including small gifts in your mailers. Church pens or pencils, or perhaps magnets with your congregation’s address and website on them, could be great investments.
7. Don’t compete
ChurchLeaders.com examined five ways in which church marketing often goes wrong. And one of the most important points is also a golden rule: other churches aren’t your competition. It’s important to realize that your church marketing plan shouldn’t distinguish you from other churches so much as help your message stand out in a world overrun with competing voices.
Remember, your end goal for marketing your church should be telling potential visitors why they want to be with your congregation on Sunday morning rather than watching TV or surfing the web. The right tactics–a mix of new and old–can help you get there.