Serial entrepreneur and CEO Gary Vaynerchuck has famously said, “Market like the year you are in!” Most churches do not do this. Most don’t but MANY churches actually do a great job with their church marketing plan and their growth results are amazing. Your church marketing plan must be current to be effective!
Church Marketing Plan Stigma
Simply put, church marketing is telling your story. For many church leaders, church marketing looks like the shady used-car salesman peddling clunkers for inflated prices. I believe it is much better for church leaders to see their church marketing plan in light of storytelling. Most pastors are masterful storytellers and every church has a great story to tell.
Digital Rocket is a Christian church marketing firm. We specialize in helping churches and businesses like yours tell your story so that the masses will hear it.
A Simple Fact About Church Marketing
EVERY church has a church marketing strategy! It’s true, whether a church knows it or not or wants to admit it, they are marketing. If you don’t believe this, go to any neighborhood or community and ask anyone to, “Tell me about a nearby church?” The answer to this question will reveal the church’s reputation or their story.
Perhaps one of the biggest church marketing blunders one could make is to think that their church doesn’t have a marketing strategy.
It might help you to think of marketing the same way you might think about your skeletal system. You do not see your bones but you know they are there. Your skeletal system is either supporting you every day in a positive way or it might be a major hindrance if something is wrong or broken.
Likewise, you have a reputation, a story that is being told in your community. Image Church in Atlanta, Ga put this short video together so people could learn more about their story.
You can see from Image Church’s story video that they have a specific story. Their pastor, in the above video, is telling their story (Marketing). Your church also has a story to tell (To Market). Churches that do not tell their story are churches that are dying.
Mill City Church chose to tell their story in a brief video called Our Story, God’s Story.
The church that my wife Rebecca and I attend is called Family Church. Each month on each of our campuses we host a class called First Connection for new members. At this class, the leaders at Family Church show the following video so that their story is clear to all new members.
Why Market Your Church?
- Great Commission- Jesus told his disciples to GO and make more disciples. The book of Acts records the greatest marketing strategy (Storytelling) that the church has ever seen. People were amazed when they heard of Jesus’ death and resurrection and as a result, MANY repented and believed the gospel.
2. Jesus Modeled Storytelling- Stories are like appendages. They are always with you and you never forget where they are. Jesus told stories because they transferred His message in a way they would remember.
3. Transient America- 40,000,000 Americans move every year. There are hundreds to thousands of Christian families that are moving to your community each year. Wise churches work hard to get their name in front of these families.
4. Church Growth- The fastest growing churches in the US all have a great church marketing plan. These churches are intentional about their church marketing plan.
5. Creative Means- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and etc. makes the world accessible. Never in world history has marketing to your entire community been as affordable as it is today. This is just a few reasons that every church should have a digital marketing strategy.
Church Marketing Plan: Clear Strategy
Many churches work hard creating amazing content but making this content easily shareable is another story. David Packard has said, “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” When many churches think about their church marketing plan they do not have a comprehensive strategy in mind.
An effective church marketing plan needs to harness the multiplication capacity of the entire church. Simon Sinek has said that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” It’s imperative that churches create church marketing strategies that encompass the “WHY” and not just the “WHAT we do.”
A great church marketing plan will aim straight for the heart. I’ve learned that people will forget great content, people will forget the things you’ve done, but they will not forget how you made them feel.
- Ambassadors- Nothing will ever replace the strategy of every believer sharing the gospel and making reproducing disciples (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Google Rankings- If you can only put your time and energy into one strategy make sure you invest here. If you do not understand the power of Google rankings you need to open these two articles: The Fastest Growing Church in The US & Understanding Google Ranking’s Impact On Church Growth.
- Digital Marketing- Storytelling is an age-old means of communications that have still not been approved upon. Jesus taught the disciples using stories and these same stories continued to be told today all over the world. A successful church digital marketing strategy is one that incorporates their unique missional story to inspire and invite others into their mission.
- Sharable Content- Think about everything that happens at your church in a given year. Baptisms, weddings, camps, ministries, mission trips, kid’s ministry, worship services and Bible Studies (This list could go on and on). Shareable content might be a student with an iPhone, a GoPro or a more elaborate filming and editing software. Once these amazing stories are caught they can easily be shared by church members. Making others the heroes of your story invites a greater willingness for others to share.
- Multiplication Ethos- Once “SHARING” becomes the norm more and more people in your church will record, edit and share your church’s story. Give them permission and watch out. Imagine the power of multiplication when 50, 100 or 1,000 church members frequently sharing your church’s story! Individuals and families you could never reach or even know exist are intrigued and invited to your church in a winsome way.
A Tireless Church Marketing Tool
Your church website is the digital front door of your church. It doesn’t take sick days, vacations or the weekends off. Your church website works around the clock, 365 days a year. Since your website is so important to your business, you need to work with the best website developers in the country.
People no longer just show up for church. They “Google it,” searching for “churches near me” or “churches in Atlanta (your city).” After they “Google it” they typically look at the first three churches that are ranked. They look at these church websites and instantly make a first impression.
The best church websites in the country follow these 10 Commandments. There is a revival of sorts happening in churches across the US. Churches are beginning to realize the importance of their church websites. Yes, times have changed and the first place guests visit churches isn’t a Sunday morning worship service. I want to provide you with 7 church website tips that will allow your sight to be easily found by potential guests and easily indexed by Google bots.
In the Complete Church Website Guide, I provide all of the key trends and strategies for today’s most effective church websites. This five-part comprehensive article is a must read for any church communications department. Whatever your church marketing ides is, it needs to have as it’s foundation the understanding of climbing Google rankings.
Church Marketing Plan Insights
- Church Marketing isn’t about marketing. It’s about using every tool available to bring people to Christ. -Kurt Steinbrueck
- You can’t rest on your #1 ranking because the guy at #2 isn’t resting. He’s improving his site. -Ryan Jones
- SEO gets the visitor to the door. It’s up to your site’s content to welcome and retain that visitor. -John Jerkovic
- Over 1 Million people will search for a church this month. Will ANY of them find your church? -Kurt Steinbrueck
- Google is the street people take on their way to your church. William Wright
Church Marketing Plan & Your BIG Idea
Effective marketing happens when creativity, science, and your big idea all meeting. The problem that many entrepreneurs face at times is the creative means of effective marketing. These men and women have “THE IDEAS” but getting ideas out to others requires an entirely different set of skills.
SEO stands at center stage of an effective and sustainable marketing idea. Make sure that you work with someone you can trust, that offers proof of concept and that sets your marketing strategy up for long-term success.
Church Marketing Plan 101
Marketing has changed but unfortunately, many church leaders haven’t made the shift. An effective church marketing plan begins with the strategy to market like the century that you are in. Long gone are the days of billboards, bulky mail outs, newspaper ads, and spotty radio commercials.
Welcome to the 21st century where church marketing plans can be laser-focused, cost-effective, measured, relevant and you can actually see the results. Churches do not have unlimited budgets for their church marketing plan. Churches need to examine the effectiveness of each marketing campaign to verify it’s effectiveness before launching a full-scale church marketing plan.
This strategy is called ROI Marketing Verification. Common sense right? Let’s pilot, tweak and verify before we have a massive roll out!
Church Marketing Plan 101
I want to give you some marketing basics. If you are a marketing guru or if you have a degree in marketing please skip ahead. Marketing can be divided into two basic camps called outbound marketing and inbound marketing.
Outbound Church Marketing Plan- In order to generate sales, outbound marketing techniques focus on going out into the marketplace. This has been the most common (and expensive) strategy for decades. Most marketers consider outbound marketing to be old school since the dramatic rise in popularity of the internet. If outbound marketing didn’t work then businesses would not spend millions of dollars for 30 second Super Bowl commercials. Typical outbound strategies:
- Direct mail;
- Outbound calling;
- Door to door salesman;
- TV, Print, Radio advertising;
- Public relations campaigns.
Inbound Church Marketing Plan- To generate sales, inbound marketing strategies seek to lure or woo potential customers to your website or by the effective digital marketing strategies. Typical inbound strategies:
- Social Marketing
- Digital Marketing
It is important that both marketing strategies work. Businesses and churches of all types use many of the strategies mentioned above, including door to door. As a result of using outbound and inbound marketing strategies, their churches have grown. Super Bowl commercials do work but most churches do not have the resources for this type of marketing plan.
Your GREAT Church
Let me tell you a few things I know about your church with 100% certainty. Your church loves people and souls and your church loves babies, kids, teens, young adults, young married adult all the way through senior adults. Your church loves the broken, addicts, people that have been divorced and people with messed up backgrounds. Your church has great preaching, inspiring worship, meaningful community, and an inspiring mission.
A great church marketing plan begins when you believe your church’s story and you believe it is worth sharing.
How do I know these things about your church? I know this because you still exist. Each week people actually show up, serve, attend worship and give because they believe in and they have bought into your church’s mission. Honestly, your church is so awesome all you need is a church marketing plan to get the word out to others in your community.
Churches Get Stuck
My brother and I grew up in North Carolina and we both drove Jeeps. Can you guess what one of our hobbies were as teenagers? Yes, we got stuck often. Fortunately, we had friends that always came to our rescue.
Churches get stuck for a variety of reasons. Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway, has said that the majority of churches in the US are stuck or dead. How do churches get unstuck? Most churches, when they first start, are focused 100% on getting the word out. New churches grow faster than established churches because there is an urgency to get the word out. They want everyone to hear the gospel and they’d love if people came and checked out their new church.
The church marketing plan for a new church is targeted and simple. Talk to everyone about Jesus and invite everyone you see to our church. With a VERY limited budget somehow the word gets out, people repent and believe the gospel, they are baptized and discipled and the church grows.
Churches actually get unstuck the same way they get started. They get the word out with conviction and urgency.
The Greatest Church Marketing Plan
Ask any marketing expert and they will all agree that word of mouth is the greatest church marketing plan that exists. Personable, affordable and effective, word of mouth marketing works. I bet you can think of a time that someone has recommended a product or service and you acted immediately, almost blindly to purchase.
Word of mouth is a bit different in the 21st Century. Today, word of mouth marketing looks more like online reviews. 88% of online shoppers say they trust online reviews implicitly. Don’t take my word for it;
The fastest growing churches in the US know this fact and they harness the power of social media. Church marketing plan that incorporates word of mouth synergy will help you get unstuck. Maybe more churches would get unstuck if they reconsidered their earlier strategy that included word of mouth and strengthened this church marketing plan with online reviews.
Cost Of Not Having A Church Marketing Plan
Churches across the country want to reach millennials but their strategies to do so are antiquated. As a result, they reach very few millennials and eventually give up altogether.
If you were going to become a missionary in Brazil it might help to some degree if you spoke Portuguese. Probably, the same strategy might work with reaching millennials. Your church marketing plan needs to be targeted and it MUST speak the language of the people group that you want to reach.
A mentor of mine always says to me, “William, Know what business you are in and always ask yourself, How’s business?” A church that isn’t reaching millennials will soon be out of business. The cost of not have an effective church marketing plan is severe because more and more churches will be closing their doors.
You can grow your church or you can let your church stay stuck. the choice is up to each leader. Last year, Crossroads Church grew their attendance by 6,000 people. Their strategy is intentional and it does cost money but so does the alternative.
Call an expert, get help, ask questions and learn from others. When your car breaks you go to the mechanic. When you need marital counsel you go see a pastor. When you have a toothache you visit a dentist.
Where do pastors go when their church is stuck and not growing? Many pastors double down on yesterday’s strategies that are NOT yielding results. Many pastors know something isn’t right because they see churches growing all around them. What does a church marketing plan even look like? Where do pastors, elders and church leaders go for help?
Digital Rocket is a Christian church marketing firm that exists to help churches expand their reach. I grew up in a ministry home. My dad was a pastor when I was born and he is still a pastor today.
I get the struggles, hardships and low budgets that pastors have to work with. I started Digital Rocket because I know that God has given me a skill set to help churches grow rapidly. Marketing is in my blood and I know how to help churches get the word out about their amazing story.
Let’s start with a simple phone conversation. I want to hear your story and let’s discuss an affordable strategy to make this year the most amazing growth year that your church has ever seen. Let’s create a church marketing plan that works for your church!