There are hundreds of ways to get the word out about your new church. How are you going to decide which to use?
Every year planters ask me for church plant marketing tips. “Is it social media?” or “I heard that direct mail is dead…?” My answer is usually, “It depends.” Mostly on your context. There is no such thing as a magic silver bullet for church plant marketing.
You can have an effective marketing strategy if you follow these 5 practical church plant marketing tips:
1. Admit Your Baggage
You have assumptions and preconceived notions about church marketing. Whatever that baggage is, own it.
The baggage I see is often in three camps:
- All Marketing is Bad – If “marketing” has negative baggage for you, then think “getting the word out” or “telling our story”. You don’t want your church to be your community’s best kept secret.
- Marketing will Solve Everything – You secretly hope that a barrage of marketing will make up for your lack of serving and building relationships in the community.
- Media Absolutes – You’ve heard that [fill in the blank method] never works. Or [fill in the blank method] always works. Assuming absolutes may cause you to overlook a very effective idea that would work in your context (even if it bombed somewhere else or in a different time). Some marketing media are like fashion – just wait long enough and skinny jeans will be back in style. Years later we’ll be so sick of skinny jeans that bell bottoms will feel like a brand new invention and they will get everyone’s attention.
2. Be a Student
Have you ever noticed that some marketing ideas break through your mental filters and get your attention? Sometimes I can’t get a jingle out of my head for hours.
What is working in your community? What are realtors, dentists and brand new businesses doing to get their word out? Chances are they’re doing those things because they produce results in your context. Of course, balance that against trying to compete against those businesses for the same space; your message may get lost in the noise. Maybe your best bet is to use something that no one else is doing (bell bottoms).
3. Get to Where Your Audience Is
If you want to sell farm implements to the Amish, you don’t launch a website with an online store. Where is the “3rd place” for the people you’re trying to reach? Do they spend lots of time at the sports field or the coffee shop? Figure out how to get your message to where they are.
4. Understand the Tradeoff
You can drive costs down by driving labor up, and vice versa. For example, getting the word to every door in your community is often done either through door hangers or post cards. Door hangers are cheap, but you have to find people to do the work. The Post Office will get a post card to every door for you, but you’ll be paying them to do it.
How much is your team’s time & energy worth? Guerrilla marketing tactics can be fun and engaging for your team. Or they could take so much time that your people begin ignoring their friends and don’t have the energy to invite anyone to the grand opening.
5. Your Bait may Determine Your Catch
Every piece you put out there should have a clear Call to Action. What do you want the reader to do as a result of seeing your marketing? Visit your website? Like your FaceBook page? Come to the Grand Opening? You only get one, so be intentional and make it clear.
And what you say can be a great filter for who responds. “Rockin’ worship and relevant teaching” may be part of your plan, but is a person with zero church background likely to skip watching the football game on Sunday morning because you’ve promised rockin’ worship? It’s easy to use bait that will only catch churched fish. If you do that, you’ve just spent a ton of Kingdom resources to reshuffle the Kingdom deck.
Thought through and planned well, church plant marketing can be great air support for your relational ground campaign.
The Good News about Jesus really is good news. It’s a story worth telling. And the people that are coming together to launch your new church are worth getting to know. Get the word out!