YELLOW PAGE EVANGELISM
BY HARRIET MEYERS
The “Churches” section of the Yellow Pages directory gets a lot of action. About 95 million hits per year make it the 34th most frequently referenced heading out of a total of 2,000 headings. On the Internet as well as between the covers of a phone book, the Yellow Pages can be an effective way to get people into your church.
Some churches buy listings in the Yellow Pages to make themselves more visible to strangers. “Our church is in an out-of-sight location, says Sandy Pereira from a Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida. “People who are new to the area and may not know we are here find us in the Yellow Pages.”
A church in Palm Springs, California, does the same thing. “Other than word of mouth, people turn to the Yellow Pages most often to find churches,” says Ken Summers of that church. “In our display ads, we let people know we’re out here and what classes and services we offer.”
Research appears to verify that. According to a 1996 Media Impact Study conducted by National Yellow Pages Monitor, a division of NPO Research, when asked what type of sources people considered when looking for a church, the highest percentageÄ17 percent–named the Yellow Pages.
Another study conducted by Statistical Research on Yellow Pages usage found that 46 percent of people who refer to the “Churches” heading are in the process of making a decision about what church to go to. Either they don’t have the name of a church in mind, or they have two or more churches in mind. They look at an average of four or five ads. Three-fourths of the people who consult the “Churches” listing go on to contact or visit a church. Of that number about 25 percent visit a church that’s new to them.
Many people who are looking for a church are new to an area, and one of the first sources of community information they receive is a local Yellow Pages directory. That directory, according to consumers is a convenient starting point for research and is also extremely useful in an emergency.
Even people who rely on personal recommendations to find a church may use the Yellow Pages to find the location and telephone number of a church. When they do, perhaps another church ad may attract their eye. Ways to guide those seekers to your ad include:
Think consumer. Since studies show that ads that contain the most information are the most effective, it is important that you take a close look at how your church is advertising in the Yellow Pages. Does it provide the kind of information that would appeal to people who are searching for a church? Does it project a professional image of your church? Does it make your church sound friendly and inviting? Does it include a map or easy-to-follow instructions on how to get to the church? What about phone numbers of people to call to answer questions about the church?
Offer a unique strength. Provide enough information in an ad to encourage someone to call or visit your church. In addiction, focus on something unique about your church that sets it apart from others. Do you have a special program for people who are new to the area? Special events for singles or seniors? Evening services? Unusual education programs? Infant and toddler childcare? Family counseling?
Try multiple listing. Consider advertising under related headings in the Yellow Pages. For example, the church in Palm Springs has a display ad under the “Wedding Facilities” heading. “Our ads are very successful in bringing new people to us,” Summers says. “I’d estimate that 95 percent of the people who use the wedding chapel and 65 percent who come for general church services and classes call after seeing our Yellow Pages ads.”
Use eye-catching design. In the midst of yellow pages, Hillsdale Baptist’s ad uses color on a white background to draw attention to its ad. “We looked at other ads and listened to suggestions from the publisher to develop an eye-catching design,” Pereira says.
Printing technology has changed dramatically, so your ad need not look like it did 10 years ago. Ask a Yellow Pages representative about design services at no extra charge. In addiction, David Roeder, a Yellow Pages designer offers these tips:
Include a good illustration and use an attractive typeface in your ad. If the budget allows, consider color.
Make sure your ad is easy to read and that the phone number address, and location are printed in large, easy-to-read type.
Compare your ad to ads around it. If other ads are black on yellow add a color or try reverse type. If other ads are in straight boxes, use a design or illustration on your border.
Ask to see what your ad will look like on the page. It might look great standing alone but would get lost among other ads.
Broaden Your Reach
The Internet offers another way of reaching people who may be looking for a church. On a Web page, a church can offer detailed information about the services it provides. Information can be updated often, easily and at very low cost. The site can include a monthly calendar of events. And all of that information is available to consumers any time of the day seven days a week.
A Web page is useless, however if people have difficulty getting to it. That’s why Yellow Pages is offering SuperPages, an interactive directory that helps link consumers to the services they need. A church can buy space in that directory for as little as $25 a month depending on the publisher. SuperPages options include:
A basic listing. This includes free of change, a church’s name, address, phone, fax number and locator map. SuperPages contains over 11 million such listings.
Fact File. This information is accessible via a hyperlink from your basic listing and can include additional information that helps people match your services to their needs. This costs $25 per month.
Display advertisement. A full-page display ad above your Fact File offers space for additional graphic display. The cost is $35 per month, which includes the Fact File, with a one-time setup fee of $210.
Home page. A simple Web site providing up to three pages of text, graphics, and hyperlinks. Cost is $45 per month and a $400 one-time setup fee.
Custom Web site. A professionally designed, custom-built Web site of unlimited size. Provides more information than a home page. Cost is based on functionality and graphic design.
Spend some time surfing the Net and some online directories, such as SuperPages (http://superpages.GTE.net), before deciding how to advertise your church.
Whether online or in a phone directory, church ads have proven to be a respectable reliable readily available source of information for consumers. So take time to design your ad so it will encourage people to come to your church.
Harriet Meyers is a freelance writer and public-relations consultant in Columbia, Maryland.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY YOUR CHURCH MAGAZINE, JULY/AUGUST, 1998, PAGES 28,29. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.