Let’s discuss some church marketing ideas and thoughts on it in general. First of all, I hope the term“church marketing” doesn’t offend you. Maybe you prefer the term “how to grow church attendance.” When you think of it, don’t the two terms mean the same thing? Yet, you may be more comfortable with the second choice. Marketing has been connected to businesses in the past, but is quickly becoming an acceptable term for the church. What does marketing mean? Simply put, it’s letting others know what we have to offer. And churches have a lot to offer, so we should want to let others know about it. [pullquote]What does marketing mean? Simply put, it’s letting others know what we have to offer.[/pullquote]
You may feel that a church should not have to do any marketing, that the right people will find you and start attending your church. While we wholly believe God draws people to certain churches, they do need to know your church exists if they want to consider visiting it. That’s where marketing comes in.
So, I hope that the term “church marketing” is starting to look a little more practical and inviting.
Now that we have that out of the way (smile), let’s look at some ways of marketing, or letting others know about what the church offers.
Church Marketing Ideas
A website is a great way to let others know about what is going on at the church, as well as give an idea of the personality and focus of the church. A website should be an extension of who you are as a congregation and tell what you believe. It’s a great place to share about your ministries, upcoming events and let newcomers meet the leadership by sharing their pictures and biographies.
A website is now the first impression many people will have of your church, so it needs to be well thought out and professionally designed. It’s important that your web visitors have a great experience just as it is when they come to visit in person. You wouldn’t leave them standing at the door wondering where to go from there. Your church probably has greeters at the front door directing newcomers to the locations they need to go to, as well as signs up. It’s the same with a website. You want to have a site that has clear navigation and simply leads your website visitors from one area to another.
In the above scenario, if a new person came to your church and was left standing at the front door, not knowing where to go, they would probably turn around and leave. It’s going to be the same with your website, only those visitors will leave even quicker.
Make sure your congregation is aware of your website and what it has on it. That way, if they invite someone to come to your church, they can direct them to the website so they can get a better idea of what it’s like. It’s a good idea to mention the website and some specific things it offers from the pulpit every so often.
Today, people search online for just about everything, and churches are no exception. You will want a website that gives a clear overview of your church,that is welcoming to potential visitors, and clearly leads them from one page to another.
A Church Blog
This goes hand in hand with a website, but it’s worth mentioning it separately. Many church websites don’t have a blog, probably because of the time commitment it takes to keep it up. However, a church blog is a great place for the pastor (and others) to write their thoughts and inspiration. It normally has a more “casual” tone to it so it lets the readers get to know you a little better than they would on a Sunday morning.
It’s a good place to announce community events, write a review on a new movie or book, or give a devotional on a relevant topic.
Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great tools a church can use to let others connect with them and get a glimpse of who they are. We post the sermon for our church on Facebook and Twitter each week, and many times it gets a lot of likes and shares, especially on Facebook. That is an easy way to extend the reach our church has.
You may have been somewhat resistant to incorporating social media as one of your church marketing ideas in the past, but it seems like it’s here to stay, so you may as well take advantage of it. Begin a church Facebook page if you don’t already have one. Maybe you think it will take too much time to keep it up (and it is important to keep it up – a stagnant Facebook page does no good.) This is where you can enlist the help of either staff members or some people in the congregation who would like to volunteer. Make sure they will be good representatives of your church and will be consistent in posting.
According to Pew Research Center, 69% of the public spends some time on a social media platform. When you think about it like that, it makes sense that churches should be using social media, too, if they want to reach their community.
An article on the Christianity Today website portrays social media as the “new town square.” According to this article, people have previously gathered in town squares to connect with each other and to conduct business. Today, this is taking place on social media.
Another marketing idea for a church is to hold events and invite the community. Things like summer basketball camps or a winter floor hockey team are popular ideas. A garage sale held to benefit a community charity is a great way for everyone to pull together and it brings out people who would not otherwise set foot in your church. We’ve done a couple of websites for churches who hold community dinners. If the people who come feel welcomed by the people they meet, they just might be inspired to come to a Sunday service.
Having members from your congregation reach out to those in hospitals or senior facilities touches hearts and they will often be asked where they are from. Then they can share a little about the church and invite those who are able to come. Of course, marketing should never be the main reason a church participates in activities like these. First and foremost should be to carry on God’s work on earth and show His love. Letting others know about your church will simply be an extension of that.
Word of Mouth
One of the most effective forms of marketing has always been word of mouth or referrals. What better way to grow your church than to have happy members that will want to invite others to experience what they have found at your church? Being a caring leader and encouraging your congregation to be the same will reach others in a way that a community event never could. Striving to make your church a friendly place that people will feel at home at and loved needs to be a top priority.
Marketing shouldn’t scare or offend us. It is really a natural by product of the way a church should function.
Our church prints special “invite cards” when it’s a holiday or special event, to make it easy for the people in our congregation to invite someone new. These can be printed up for special days or just to have on hand as a general invitation.
Another idea you may want to try is to have some church brochures printed up. We have some that include a little about the church plus some great testimonials from people who attend there. It gives a nice overview look at that church in an easy to share brochure.
The sermon manager we use when designing a church website automatically uploads the sermon to iTunes, so that anyone with an account there has access to it, another way to broaden your church’s reach. Not only can local people hear your podcasts, but so can those in other parts of the world!
Does your church have a welcome or sermon videos? Upload them to YouTube, put in some keywords and share it with their audience. You Tube has a huge following, so it’s kind of its own “marketplace.”
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
If you’ve been reading our posts for any length of time, you most likely have come across the term SEO, which stands for search engine optimization. Simply, put, SEO is the process of getting your website to rank well in Google and the other search engines. How do you do this? If you go with professional web designers, they will know what to do. You can read our post on church seo for more information.
If you are a “Field of Dreams” fan, you will be familiar with the expression “if you build it they will come.” Not so with a website! They first have to find your website, and in order to do that, it has to be ranked pretty high in the search engines.
Hopefully, you are seeing that there are many church marketing ideas you can incorporate that don’t even seem “markety” (is that a word?) They are things you might be doing naturally, but done with a little more intention, can open the doors for others to find you and start fellowshipping at your church.