How A Promotion Strategy Can Help Your Church
Wayne Kiser is an expert promoter. Not only does he teach a course on “Excellence in Publicity and Promotion” (with his wife, Ruth) at the Moody Bible Institute Graduate School, he is co-owner and president of Graphic and Editorial Services, a print promotion agency in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
One institution that could use Kiser’s help: the church. As Kiser notes, “most churches treat church promotion like I treat house repairs. On the hottest day of the year, when the roof needs fixing, I get the ladder and tar and mount the sweltering peaks to do the job. When a water pipe springs a leak, I shut down the system to make the needed repair. I spend my time fixing isolated problems when I should be conducting regular maintenance.”
“When it comes to church promotion, most church leaders do the same thing. Promotion attempts are random-and random attempts achieve limited results. Yet the Bible tells us, ‘We should make plans, counting on God to direct us’ (Prov. 16:9, TLB).”
Kiser believes an effective church promotion plan has five objectives. He writes:
“1. A promotion plan helps you organize priorities and achieve greater results. Although crisis promotion- promoting event by event as the need arises-is better than no promotion at all, well-planned strategies built on promoting to segmented audiences maximize your results.”
“2. A plan helps focus your efforts. Once you know what group you are targeting, ask yourself what you want them to do. It’s tempting to dismiss the question with, “We want them to know Jesus.” Of course we do, but what will bring that about? Perhaps getting them to come to church, to participate in a church program, or to accept counseling from the church staff may be the vehicle to achieve the objective. If you know what you want them to do; you can build and promote a program to make it happen.”
“3. A plan helps you save time, money and energy. Your staff, whether paid or volunteer, already has more to do than they would like. A carefully constructed promotion plan avoids wasted effort by defining the task each one is to perform.
“A plan also saves money because it fosters effective use of the media. With a church newsletter, several events can be promoted at the same time. The same can be true of newspaper and radio advertising. Producing more than one flier at a time may generate a savings.”
“4. A plan helps you evaluate your results. If you set clear, measurable goals, you’re in a position to judge your success. It’s also a simple matter to compare the results of one event with another. Careful evaluation helps future promotions become efficient, effective and efficacious.
“This means you can fine-tune subsequent events and promotion efforts, making them more and more effective. By knowing how an event worked, you avoid making the same mistakes twice. Of course, it takes good records, but that’s part of the planning.
“5. A plan encourages church members because they see positive things happening in the church. When your people know what to do and are successful in doing it, they take greater ownership in the ministry of the church. The church grows because of the excitement demonstrated by church members and their positive word-of mouth advertising.”
Once you recognize the importance of a promotion strategy, how do you design a plan that is right for your church? Kiser says you start with identifying a promotion director-perhaps someone who could take charge of church promotion as his or her own “spiritual service.” The director should be part of all church leadership meetings where goals for ministry are discussed. Kiser also recommends naming a promotion committee to help the director with workload and idea input.
Kiser offers four basic principles that, if rightly employed, will put the promotion committee’s task in perspective and make one’s promotion efforts much easier. He writes:
“Rule 1: Know what the church wants to accomplish. Promotional goals should seek specific results and be stated in measurable terms. The more finely tuned the goals, the clearer the message and the greater the results.
“Rule 2: Gather workable ideas. Once you assemble the list of all your promotional ideas, it’s time to select the ones that are right for you. Can the idea fulfill your goals? Does it present the image you want of your church? Do you have enough budget to carry it out?
“Rule 3: Announce the project to church members first. For major events or campaigns, promote to the inner circle first, then to increasingly larger circles. Church leaders should know about the plans first, then active members, then those with a general interest in the church, and finally the audience targeted for the event.
“Rule 4: Take your program to the community. There are several ways to arouse community interest: newspaper and radio advertising, direct mail, door-to-door distribution, church bulletins, billboards, to name just a few. The committee should select what will best accomplish its goals.
“Promotion is more than announcing a meeting. It takes thought, planning, organizing and a budget-and it takes sensitivity to the opportunities God prepares,” Kiser says. “If you take promotion seriously, it can bring new people to your church and into the kingdom of God.”
(Portions of this article were adapted from Promotion Strategies for the Local Church by Wayne Kiser, published 1992 by Broadman Press, Nashville. Copyright portions used by permission.