Church Relevance – Issue 16
February 2007
by Kent Shaffer 

In church marketing, the right choices can be a catalyst for growing
your church and creating bigger impacts with the people you want to
reach. Although the best choice is not always clear, you can be
prepared by learning fundamental principles such as the following three
rules:

Rule #1 :: Don’t begin with marketing.

Instead of rushing off to purchase advertisements and print
postcards, pause and consider your church’s marketability. Ask
yourself, “Is my church worth marketing?” Is there anything about your
church that would dissuade guests from returning? Are your facilities
clean and well-maintained?  Are your volunteers and staff friendly and
well-trained? Are the sermons boring and lacking meat? The quickest way
to kill a bad product is with good marketing. In contrast, quality
products thrive even without marketing. Word of mouth will often carry
them to success, and the same is true for your church. Marketing may
get people through the door, but marketability is the key to guest
retention. As with anything, practice it in moderation. Don’t nitpick
and focus too much on excellence. Simply put, be sure you always offer
guests a positive church experience and keep challenging yourself to
improve that experience.

Rule #2 :: Map it out.

Any useful map has three important parts – a starting point, a
destination, and a route. Your church’s marketing should also have
these parts. As your starting point, you must have a solid
understanding of what your church is. Know your mission, your vision,
and the fundamental values and ideas that drive your church. In other
words, know your church’s brand. Your destination is the people that
God has called you to reach. They are your target audience. But getting
from Point A to Point B needs a route that connects the two. This route
is how your church communicates its message, and it is your job to
determine the most efficient route. Just as a map might offer ten or
more different routes to reach a destination, your church has hundreds
of communication routes to choose from. How you communicate must
reflect your church’s brand, or your message will not be trusted. And
your communication must be relevant, otherwise it will be ignored.

Rule #3 :: Cost does not always equal quality.

Just because a newspaper ad costs $600 does not mean it is worth it.
In fact, some of the most expensive advertising methods can be useless
if everyone is using them. Too many ads create clutter, and clutter
makes ads ineffective. Doing a little homework can save your church
hundreds of dollars. Explore what cheaper yet equally effective
alternatives are available. A good starting point is to think about how
your audience spends most of their time and to then determine what
opportunities exist or could be created to reach them during these
moments. Do not assume that the size of your church budget determines
the quality of your marketing.

Some might view it as an unconventional approach to marketing to
begin with these three principles of excellence, good communication,
and stewardship. However, practicing them will help your church more
efficiently and effectively reach its community.

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