Go Yell It On The Mountain!
By Rodney Shaw
The task of the church is to preach the gospel and to make disciples of all nations. This is a daunting task considering that most United Pentecostal Church congregations reach less than one percent of their local population. Often the number is closer to one-tenth of one percent.
How many people even know your church exists? For those who know about your church, what do they know about it? Are their perceptions accurate? Do they know what your church teaches? Do they embrace unfair stereotypes about your church?
Marketing may sound incompatible with more theologically-charged words like revival, preaching, witnessing, and the like; however, marketing is merely another way to witness to unbelievers about the Apostolic message. Marketing is a church’s strategy to identify itself and its message within a community. Marketing allows church to take full advantage of resources that can aid in sharing the gospel. Inasmuch as people are aware of your church, your church already has an identity in the community. This identity is established through what people have heard about your church, stereotypes about Pentecostalism, what they read on the Internet, and their own personal encounters. Some of this may be positive, but often times it is not. Marketing is an attempt to shape your own identity in the minds of the community.
You Already Do A Great Deal Of Marketing
Whether you realize it or not, you already do much church marketing. The church building itself is an advertisement. If the paint is peeling off the sign and the septic tank is backing up into the yard, you are sending a pretty loud message! If weeds are growing in the parking lot and the hedges look like a forest, you are telling people that your church does not care about quality and that you are uninterested in the most basic forms of stewardship. If the church pays its bills late or is unfriendly to newcomers, you have just had a most successful marketing campaign! Any serious attempt at marketing will begin with attitudes and facilities.
Have A Product
Having a great product is the best advertisement one can have, and Apostolic have the best product anyone could want. Or do we? Although we can say that the Holy Ghost is the best thing that can happen to a person, people do not encounter God in a vacuum. People encounter God only after parking in our parking lots, walking through our buildings, and interacting with our people. This all usually takes place after having encountered our people in the community. And although a restaurant may have the best steaks in town, if those steaks are served on trash can lids by rude people who like to brag on how well they cook, hardly anyone will ever get to experience the delicious meat.
In Church Marketing 101 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), Richard L. Reising makes the claim that if churches are not attracting new people, advertising will only hurt them more in the long term, for when new people come, they will soon discover all the reasons people do not visit that church! “We often say in our seminars that over 50 percent of the churches in the United States should not promote themselves.
…By promoting a church that is not experiencing this internal success, some churches are damaging their ability for future growth. All they are doing is inviting the outside world in to see why no one wants to invite people to their church” (20). “If your church is having to beg, push, cajole, offer incentives, or even just remind people in your membership to invite others, it is a telltale sign that, for whatever reason, they do not believe the ministry that takes place will make a successful connection with the people they would invite” (106). “If your members are not actively inviting people already, there are reasons why that is happening. I would add, if the people they are inviting are not returning and staying, there are reasons for that as well”.
Once the secondary issues are taken care of, we must have great church services. every service must count. There is seldom an excuse for poorly planned services, unrehearsed music, ill-prepared teachers, or lazy preaching. Ultimately, our product is the Lord Jesus Christ experienced through the power of His Spirit. When we have effective church services and other events, we reinforce whatever other attempts we make at marketing.
Dignify Your Event And Create Expectations
If it is important to you, it will be important to others. What would otherwise be an ordinary series of Bible lessons can be transformed into a high point in the life of a church and even an evangelistic outreach tool. By simply putting together nice promotional pieces, student notes, and a PowerPoint presentations, you can dignify an otherwise ordinary event. Advertising can raise people’s expectations about an event, and this can become a significant factor in whether or not the event is successful or not. If the organizers of an event promote it as something important, it will be perceived accordingly.
Identify Your Audience
Advertising must be suited to the audience for which it is intended. An advertisement aimed at attracting new people to your church should not be designed to appeal to Pentecostals using Pentecostal jargon. The advertisement needs to make sense to sinners, not Pentecostals. Unchurched people likely have no idea what “revival,” “move of God,” “anointed preaching,” and other church terms mean, or at least they do not understand them in the same ways we do. These are heavily nuanced terms that are useful for internal purposes, but they do not help outsiders. To the contrary, when advertising inside the church about upcoming events, it can be very helpful to use language, imagery, and metaphors with which Pentecostals are familiar.
It is also important to advertise the right events to the right audiences. The unchurched are usually not interested in church or pastoral anniversaries. These are insider events. The best marketing pieces for outsiders provide informations about the church and say what the church can offer that will benefit outsiders.
Imagery is also important. Images that might communicate effectively to Pentecostals may have a negative impact on unchurched people. Images of white, middle class people in dress clothes may not be effective in a blue collar, minority community. Further, images of people crying with strained expressions while praying or worshiping can communicate a negative message if the audience does not understand what is going on in the image. Regional and cultural factors should be considered when selecting images as well. For example, rural communities may react in different ways than do urban areas to agricultural imagery.
Content Supersedes Presentations
Advertising must communicate a message. A flashy presentation with no content is not helpful. “Come to our church” is not meaningful content. This message could apply to any church in any town . A good advertisement will identify the name of the church, the address, phone number, Web address, email address, date of the event, time of the event, duration of the event, and some description that justifies why a person would want to attend such an event. When advertising, have something to say, and then say it well.
Presentation Enhances Or Detracts From Content
Although content supersedes presentation, the content can be enhanced by a good design. Likewise, a wonderful event can be significantly diminished by a poorly designed ad. Pick the main events for the year and pay a graphic designer to design attention-grabbing pieces that represent your church well. some pieces may not be event-oriented but simply introduce the church to the community . This could be the only exposure some have to your church, so make it attractive.
Marketing For Immediate As Well As Long-Term Results
Most people do not buy a product immediately after seeing an advertisement for the product. However, if one see the same product advertised repeatedly, when he is ready to purchase such a product, he is more likely to purchase the product to which he has been exposed. This is called branding. The same is true for churches. Every advertising campaign does not yield immediate results. However, through consistent advertising, a church can establish itself in the minds of people. At some future point, when a family is in crisis, they are likely to turn to sources of help to which they have been exposed. Accordingly, a good advertising campaign over many years can yield converts in the long term. Not only so, but good marketing can familiarize the community with the church, building good will and tearing down negative stereotypes.
Even so, marketing for immediate results is also effective. This includes advertising specific events. The long-term branding strategy often works hand -in-hand with the advertisements for immediate action. If a church has built a relationship with the community through an ongoing advertising campaign, when a special series of services is advertised, people are most likely to come. But even if a person does not respond and come to the event, the advertisement for the event is yet another installment in branding the church. It is yet another opportunity for people to see the name of the church.
Whether we like it or not, we are competing with other churches in our cities. In our larger cities, we also are competing with other religions as well. We are trying to persuade people that they need what we have, and further, that they should spend several hours of their time with us each week instead of doing whatever else they want to do. Unbelievers are bombarded with many choices for churches. Before we can preach the gospel to them, they have to know we exist, and we must convince them that we can make a difference in their lives. When they discover us, it should be on our terms. We need to tell them what we want them to know about us and not what someone else tells them. This is why marketing is so important. So go yell it on the mountain! Let’s tell the whole world about Jesus!
Establishing An Identity
Selecting a visual identity is the first step in creating a marketing campaign (assuming you have defined your mission and vision). Before any other pieces are created, a church should work with a qualified designer to develop a logo that represents the church visually. A logo can be only text, or it can include graphic elements. Colors can also communicate various messages. A graphic designer needs to have a feel for your church, its culture, and what you want to communicate before designing a logo. Designers typically provide an identity package which includes a logo, letterhead, and calling cards.
Selecting A Designer
A good graphic designer is essential to creating great marketing pieces. It is important that a designer understands who you are and what you are trying to communicate. Some designers specialize, and many designers have a style that yum can discern by looking at their portfolio. Designers who primarily design print media do not always do well designing Web pages and vice versa. Accordingly, it is very important to view a designer’s portfolio prior to making a commitment. a Web site is both functional and visual. Accordingly, it may necessary to have a design team with one designer working on the graphics while another designer works on the overall functionality of the Web site.
It is also essential to have a written agreement in advance that specifies the cost as well as a detailed description of the product. all images should be delivered to you in a digital format unless you have made some other arrangement. Logos should be delivered in a vectored format (typically a Freehand, Illustrator, or “outlined” EPS file). And finally, check references to see how the designer has worked with others. Good experience and design may be costly, but they are worth it.
In Simply Strategic Growth, Tim Stevens and Tony Morgan suggest answering the following question before designing any media pieces: “Who cares?” Who cares about your event, your social, your services, or your church? Answering this question will determine how you design the piece. If you are advertising a church or pastoral anniversary, chances are the unchurched do not care. Therefore, media for such events should be designed with church people in mind. Outreach events, on the other hand will appeal to a whole other demographic, so these ads should be designed in such a way as to be relevant to the unchurched. Regardless of the audience, Stevens and Morgan suggest that every advertisement should answer the following questions for the target audience: Why should I come to this event/; What value will I receive by participating in it? What will I be missing if I don’t come? What are three good reasons I should be there? Who else is going? Will there be anyone like me there? Why is this more important than three or four other good things I could be doing during the same time?
Good copy should be concise and simple. Be consistent with punctuation, capitalizations, the use of descriptive words, titles, and the like. Have several people proofread the final copy, and always proofread the final draft! When proofing, look for the obvious including typographical errors in the title, name of the church, address, etc. Thee obvious pieces of information often contain errors that are easy to overlook.
It is advisable to adopt a standard approach to writing copy. Official UPCI publications comply with The Chicago Manual of Style and the Word Aflame house rules (www.upci.org/wap/). The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, is an invaluable resource.
Selecting A Printer
Today’s market offers both offset (press) and digital printing. both are valuable, and each has its place. Offset printing is economical for large quantities and high quality output. It is a good choice when color precision is important and when large quantities are needed. Digital printing is economical for small quantities with good quality output (not as high as offset). With digital printing colors may vary slightly, so it is not a good choice when color precision is important. Hybrid formats, combing digital and offset technologies, are becoming more and more common. These formats allow for smaller quantities to be printed with higher quality.
When selecting a printer, ask for samples of their work. Also ask for references. It is important to get price quotes in writing. Quotes should include paper stock, finishing options (coatings, perforations, folds, etc.), type and number of proofs provided, method of delivery, and a timeframe for delivery. If color precision is important, use an offset printer and insist on a hard proof that is calibrated to the press. Get at least two price quotes. Be sure to compare all features in the quotes. Consult your graphic designer a recommendation.
Basic Tips For Graphic Design And Design Elements
1. Do not use more than three fonts on a single pieced of publicity.
2. Choose font families with varying weights for flexibility.
? Franklin Gothic Book
? Franklin Gothic Book Demi
? Franklin Gothic Book Demi Cond
? Franklin Gothic Book Medium
? Franklin Gothic Book Medium Cond
? Franklin Gothic Book Heavy
3. Maintain a minimum margin of one-half inch; one-quarter inch is sufficient for postcards
4. Leave plenty of white (text-free) space. Do not cram information in a limited space.
5. Avoid stylized text features that make text swirl, skew, etc.
6. Use high-resolution images (300 dpi or higher) for printing. Images from the Internet are typically not suitable for printing. Digital cameras should be set on the highest quality/resolution setting.