Church Marketing, it’s a controversial topic: Should a church advertise? More and more Church leaders are of the mindset that, like a business, it should market itself to increase its outreach. An equal number of respected Church leaders feel that if the message is of God, then the membership will rise of its own accord. Every Church is a ministry, of course, but just like any business it has supply and demand. The supply is faith, and the demand is followers. And just like any other organization, it needs to market itself in other to thrive and accomplish its goals.
Each of the major Christian denominations have a marketing plan, in fact most are available online. A church marketing plan sets out goals to increase its message, to increase its reach, and ultimately to increase its membership to spread the word of God.
There are many ways that a church can advertise. There’s TV programming, books, websites, blogs, social media, partnering with other organizations (called co-branding), etc., etc. Every time a church reaches out into the community with a message – a word of hope, information on an upcoming retreat, day care times – that message is Church marketing.
It is our belief Church marketing all starts with a Church sign.
According to a study by the National Evangelical Association, 10% of new church members cited the outdoor church sign as the deciding factor for joining the church. Other than word of mouth marketing, the church signage was determined to be the most important aspect of the successful outreach and membership growth of a church in the community. The professional appearance and the ability to quickly change the church sign messages becomes a powerful ministry tool for current and future church members alike. (NAE)
There are a few absolutes when it comes to church promotion. First, the physical location of the church remains a constant. The area around the church might change, but as long as the doors are open the house of worship stays in the same place. Secondly, the church has to rely on its neighbors for support. Most churchgoers find a sanctuary within 5 miles of their residence, according to Christianity Today. Other than word of mouth, the best way to market to people passing by your church is an outdoor church sign. (NAE)
Most are familiar with the classic changeable letter church sign offering up some quasi-clever phrase. Google “church signs” and here they come: “God answers knee mail” or “Stop drop and roll doesn’t work in hell”. Hey, if that’s the way your church chooses to market itself, have at it. The point is, for better or worse, the sign gets noticed. Some church signs have caused viewers to stop and make a U-turn just to read it again (The Blaze)
But here’s the thing with changeable signs, either marquee or LED: They need to be constantly updated or they get lost in the landscape. Drive by anything static a few times and after a bit your eyes won’t register it being there. The message needs to change, daily if possible. That way the viewer notices the update each time, and in fact will unconsciously begin to expect it. (Texas Monthly)
Here’s an example: My better half was looking for a car wash recently. Now, we drive by one literally four times a day. She never noticed that it was there. Why not? No sign. So she went out of her way to a car wash a few miles away … with a huge gleaming LED sign.
Now, that’s church marketing.