August 27, 2015

Make Time for Marketing

"How many hours a day do you write?" a marketing and social media expert asked me.

"Four hours," I replied.

"Then you should spend two hours a day on marketing," she said, mainly in social media and email campaigns where costs are quite affordable.

I get her point. If I want people to read what I write and to buy my products, I need to do solid marketing: catch prospective readers' attention, explain my offerings, present opportunities to buy, drive people to my web sites, form relationships, provide customer service.

These principles apply in churches, too. Most of what church leaders do is like my writing: the reason we are "in business." Preparing for worship, for example, teaching classes, calling on people, getting to know prospective constituents, nurturing community, creating mission programs, training leaders, conducting weddings and funerals and Easter Egg hunts.

If church leaders want people to "buy" their "goods and services' -- come to worship, take a class, engage with the community, grow in faith, serve God -- they can't just open the door on Sunday or send out a weekly newsletter stuffed with announcements. They need to do solid marketing. They need to do the basics as outlined above: catch people's attention, explain offerings, present opportunities to engage, lead people to various forms of participation, form relationships, provide customer service.

The ratio of two to one sounds about right. That is, for every two hours spent preparing for Sunday worship, spend one hour in marketing efforts to draw people to church.

For every two hours spent training leaders, spend one hour "selling" these new leaders to the congregation (telling their stories, posting photographs and bios, letting them share their visions and ideas.)

For every two hours spent preparing for a class, spend one hour marketing the class: identifying likely and possible constituents, explaining content, explaining the benefits to be had from participating. Don't just have one paragraph in the newsletter announcing the class. "Sell the sizzle," as they say.

Every time you do something, make a video of it, and use that video to market other events. Ask participants to write "blurbs" voicing their delight. When you touch a life deeply, as in a mission project, tell the story of what happened. One mission thrust could launch a dozen interesting narratives, and each of those narratives is worth a Facebook post.

When you post to your church's Facebook page, spend $5 to "boost" the post so that it reaches more people.

Put a call-to-action on everything you post online or send digitally. A button (or link) to register, a button to request information, a button to subscribe, a button to make a comment or ask a question, a button to donate. You get the idea. You need to capture prospects' email addresses for future posts, and you need to drive people to your web site if your web site is to have any impact.

Marketing isn't just one thing. It's many things, and it's best to be using the right tools and to have a strategy. Marketing needs to be fresh every time. The same-old newsletter you have been mailing out for years isn't good marketing. Don't hesitate to consult an expert to design a strategy and assemble the right tools.

The bottom line in marketing: allocate sufficient resources to do it right.

This blog post first appeared August 26, 2015 on Tom Ehrich’s Church Wellness blog and is is reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2015 Morning Walk Media Inc., All rights reserved.

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