Crafting a Church Marketing Plan
Jesus makes church marketing sound so simple. In His time, it was really that easy: go out into the world and spread the Word, then just wait for the masses to come. However, in our time, that verse would be weighed down by all the new technology out there and all the difficulty that now surrounds just reaching out and spreading God’s message. Nowadays, it would sound more like: “Go build a website, live stream all your sermons, do a Facebook paid ad, and start an Instagram family ministry page.”
And that’s just the beginning. We’re living in a time when online integration and marketing are advancing at such a fast pace, there are bound to be new sites and new methods of reaching out almost as soon as this article goes to print. The people we wish to reach are every day asking for more targeted involvement, more integration, and more connection with their church. It’s a game that is every day a greater challenge to play, and yet a game that, if we want to live up to Jesus’ call, we have to play nonetheless. So, where do we begin with a modern church marketing plan? Well, since we have to play the game, we might as well play it right. That’s where my G.A.M.E. approach comes in.
G – Gather information
• Determine the audience you are trying to reach, and then learn all you can about them. For example, if your church is hoping to increase attendance of new families or is near a college campus and wants to expand its reach to students, look into what these groups are concerned about. Talk to a few people within that community to help tailor your future efforts at reaching out more to their needs. Find out about their concerns and what they are looking for from a church.
A- Accumulate and analyze the data
• Once you have a little information about your target group, dig a little deeper. Find out where your audience gets its news and information from. Nielsen and Pew Research are excellent places to start finding communications trends for different types of demographics. Google Analytics can also help point you in the right direction for what type of users visit the church’s website and which pages are most popular. Also, using a survey card which could be filled out and turned in during services would provide valuable information about the demographics in your congregation and what the target group feels is lacking. Once you have that information, study it closely to see if any trends are apparent. Are there particular concerns or interests that crop up over and over again? Are there certain sites this demographic like to visit? What about offline? Do people tend to gather at or visit a particular place?
M- Make a plan
• Use all this data to target specific communications mediums both online and offline to engage the people you are trying to reach. Write down all the ideas that will communicate the church’s message and prioritize accordingly to need, budget, etc. to reach the largest segment of your target group and communicate the most important ideas that separates your church’s vision from the rest. Make sure that the message fits the venue.
• This is the MOST important part of any plan. Ideas are only ideas unless they are put into action! Decide who will implement each part of the plan, set deadlines for those tasks, and follow up accordingly. Supervise tactics to see what is working and what can be improved and make adjustments as needed.
While we don’t have the luxury of easy marketing success, the means are still available to us to reach those we see in the community who could use Christ in their lives. Even in this modern, media-saturated world, there are still ways to get the message out, if we are smart about how we play the game. An organized, strategic, well thought out marketing plan is the best tool to advance your church’s communication goals easily and effectively!