By Dale Rogers Jr.
There are lots of ways to communicate your brand. No one approach– or series of approaches– works everywhere all of the time. What’s effective for one church may not work for you. Anybody who tells you he knows in advance what tactics will succeed is either lying or stupid (either way you shouldn’t listen to him). Another marketing truth is that once you’ve established your strategy, you should probably use every tactic you can afford to communicate your brand.
After researching your audience, rank all potential tactics based on their likely success and figure out how much each one will cost. Start with tactic one and work your way down your ranked list until you run out of money. Some of your tactics will work, some won’t. This is normal even for sophisticated companies like Coke, Target, and Burger King. The only way to know for certain what will motivate your target market is to try different approaches and measure results. Here are some ideas to get you started.
-Use e-mail and the web as another communication channel.
-Do all your print materials reference your website address?
-Does your sign reflect your brand?
-Use banners or props to announce service times and special events. Be creative.
-Kill the bake sale; hold special events that truly express your brand
-Do your business cards list service times and provide a map of your church? -Do your business cards carry your branding and slogan?
-Do you have general business cards for your congregants to hand out that list service times, location, and contact information?
Cards on lesser holidays
-Everyone gets Christmas cards; how about sending out a card for Groundhog’s Day/ National Donut Day/or some other obscure holiday.
-If you have TV monitors are you using them to run “commercials” of upcoming events or high-profile ministries?
Column/Article in Publication
-Are you taking advantage of PR to garner free publicity?
-Send a press release announcing your event.
-Offer to write a regular column on spirituality.
-Take a page from restaurants and use tabletop placard to announce events/ promote ministries
Radio and/or TV spots
-These media can be powerful allies in building a strong brand and increasing attendance.
-Companies such as Faith Highway can help you set up cable TV advertising as part of your overall communications strategy.
-Create a theme and advertise it in a variety of media such as TV, radio, newspapers, direct mail, internet sites, invite cards, and servant evangelism events.
Reprints and Blow-ups
-If a newspaper or other publication writes a story about your church, why not order reprints to distribute broadly in your community? Third party endorsements are powerful motivators.
-Make full use of your stationary by including some marketing messages such as the time of your services and your key ministries.
-Develop brochures for your major ministries and events. Also develop a general brochure that describes your church. Use lots of white space and avoid church speak.
Tell order of service in plain language in bulletin
-If you say your outreach oriented and a seeker couldn’t possibly understand your bulletin, you’re doing something wrong. Use everyday language to briefly describe what’s going to happen and why.
Handwritten message on outside of envelope
-If you want your direct mail to be opened at a higher rate, include a short handwritten note on the outer envelope.
Google Key words
-You can buy keywords on Google.com for anywhere from a few cents each to a quarter or more. Set a budget and test this approach– especially if you’re trying to reach a younger audience. Visit Google Adwords for more information.
-Reinforce your brand image by branding your indoor signs with your logo, typeface, and colors.
-Most church staffers send hundreds, even thousands, of emails every year. Each email is an opportunity to bolster your brand. Ad a tag line to the bottom of your email with your church slogan, service times, and link to your website.
-Develop creative, professional looking posters to hang in church-friendly establishments throughout your community. A great place to buy posters and other print collateral is PriningForLess.com
-Going to the bathroom tends to be pretty boring. Give people something to look at by hanging acrylic holders on the wall and displaying ads for special events, volunteer opportunities, ministries, etc.
-You can buy advertising before movies at most movie theaters. Give this a try. Measure results by asking visitors where they heard about you.
Ad coupon to outreach cards/business cards for latte
-People love to get free stuff. Ad a coupon for a free beverage at your coffee bar to the back of your business cards or invite cards. You can also put a coupon on your website.
-Offer a relevant, non-religious seminar on finance, history, coin collecting, or some other topic your target audience would find interesting.
-Statements are more credible when they come from 3rd parties. Find a way to incorporate the good things people say about you into your print and electronic media.
Grocery bag advertising
-Lots of non-Christians eat
-Why not capitalize on this by advertising on the bags and getting a group together to pack groceries for free?
.Logo for Each Ministry/Event
-Each of your major ministries/events should have its own logo. The logo should compliment your overall brand. The logo will help current and potential “customers” quickly grasp the essence of your ministry/event.
-Many churches have mailboxes for their members. Why not treat this mailbox like a post office box? Augment a larger communications campaign by distributing postcards or flyers to each box.
-People notice these, just ask any politician. Why should politicians have all the fun? Develop a creative bumper sticker for members to place on their vehicles.
Postcard invites in bulletin for congregants to address and mail to seekers
-Mailing thousands of postcards can strain a church budget. Instead distribute the cards in your bulletin and ask each member to send 3-5 cards out. It only cost the member $1.50; it could save the church thousands.
-Most church newsletter are horrendous. Done properly, however, they can be great communications tools.
-We’ve all seen these. But rather than making all inserts look the same, try color coding the inserts by ministry or event being advertised. Be consistent. Over time, people will learn which announcements pertain to them based on the color of the insert.
-Can be expensive depending on traffic volume, but offer repeat exposure to some segments.
-Keep to 6 or fewer words per billboard.
-Best used as part of an overall campaign not as a stand-alone tool.
Set-up calling tree for big events
-Churches tend to be overly reliant on the newsletter or pulpit announcements to publicize key events. Set up a calling tree to be activated a couple of days before an event as a final reminder.
Wear Your Message
-Have a t-shirt/polo shirt printed with your church’s logo. Give them away to staff and leadership.
-Advertise an upcoming outreach event by delivering the sermon in a t-shirt bearing the name and date of the event. Congregants may not remember your sermon, but they’ll remember the event.
-Distribute fun, brand-related stickers to children as they enter the church.
-You’ve seen the yard signs saying “Vote for Mayor Such and Such.” Why not make a similar sign promoting your church or event and have church members put them up in their yards?
-People need to see an idea roughly 7 times before it registers.
-Don’t communicate in only one way; communicate the same idea in a slightly different way with postcards, sermon announcements, e-mail, etc.
-Don’t sound desperate (even if you are) People respond to success, not duress.
-Know what you want people to do before you start communicating. Each communication effort should include a “call to action”– a phrase that tells people what you want them to do.
-Don’t talk to all people in your church the same way. Invest in software that can tell the difference between parents/non-parents, old/young, male/female, small group member/non small group member. Then target your message only to the people who actually care!!!
-Develop a calendar that lays out when each communication will occur.
-Stick to just one idea per communication piece.
-The best outreach ideas in the world won’t work if your people don’t genuinely love the unchurched.
-Keep it really simple. Neuroscientists tell us the brain breaks complex information into small bits called engrams before moving these bits into long-term memory. You can literally make your communications more memorable by simplifying them.
From: www.churchoutreachlab.com January 2001
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”