Is it November already?
Today my great friend Ben Picton
is guest blogging for me. I’m absolutely nuts over the Picton clan – they are some of the most terrific human beings on the planet! We really only built friendship in a short amount of time, but that friendship runs deep and wide (like Jesus’ love, maybe) and it feels like we’ve been friends for years and years.
(Friends, let it be known that I have rewritten that paragraph probably 10 times. There are so many wonderful things to say about Ben, and narrowing it down to “terrific human being” is such an understatement.)
Ben and I first really connected when he came on board as our Marketing Director for Transit Assembly in Seattle, and I have learned so much from him in the world of marketing and the arts (oh, and fashion). He graduated from Evangel University with a BBA in marketing, and is currently a marketing professional with a focus on churches and non-profits, working with organizations ranging from international non-profits to small churches.
Thank you for writing, Ben. I really miss you & Hannah and baby Penelope.
I know creatives in the church tend to get thrown into marketing their church, and have no idea what it really means or where to start. Here is your crash course from one of the greats. You’re welcome.
A lot of people jump to conclusions when they hear “church marketing,” so let’s talk about that first. Church marketing is not about manipulating people. The heart of church marketing is to make sure you are ready to welcome people into an environment where they will feel open to hear from God. It’s more about doing your best to prepare to represent Him to your members, visitors, and community than promoting yourself.
This is the heart of church marketing, but what is does it look like?
Church marketing is the management of perception.
That’s an academic definition, so let’s talk about what that really means.
Management is the cycle of learning where you are now, what your vision for the future is, and making decisions to get you there. Every interaction your church has with someone combines together to form their perception of you. This perception of you is how they will decide to visit, return, etc.
So church marketing is 1) learning how people perceive you now, 2) having vision for how you want them to perceive you, and 3) taking action to get there.
Step 1: Current Perception.
How do you learn how people perceive you now? You can learn a lot from your current members. First, are they regularly inviting guests? If they are – that’s great, and if not, there’s a reason why. Have a conversation with them, and get their honest opinion. You can learn from your visitors, too, just by seeing how many come back again. It would be great to ask returning visitors why they came back and one-time visitors why they didn’t come back.
Step 2: Vision.
This is up to your church leadership and God to create. I’m no expert on casting vision, but go big. How can your church truly impact your community? Find a need and fill it.
Step 3: Taking Action.
Now that you know where you are and where you want to go, making changes to get there is the hardest part. Educate your staff, volunteers, and members about what you are doing and why. It’s always easier to change when you know why. Take small steps, and your church will evolve from the inside out. Your marketing should affect who you are first before it can affect your community.
If you think about every interaction your church has with an individual, there are a lot of opportunities. Below is a list of 11 scenarios to review. Think through the three steps above through the eyes of a first-time guest and a church member.
- Searching for church address and service times
- Pulling into the parking lot
- Walking into church
- Navigating (nursery, youth, restroom, water, etc.)
- Greeting each other before service/after worship
- Worship (style, song choice, mood)
- Tithes and offerings
- Sermon/lesson (style, word choice, comprehension level)
- Altar call/ending service
- Leaving church
- Driving away
Church marketing is a cycle, so once you finish going through the list above, start over again. Always reevaluate where you are, what your vision is, and new steps to get there.
If you have any questions or great ideas to add, please comment below.