The Grassiest of Roots

There’s no marketing like word of mouth.  Seriously.  Remember Napoleon Dynamite?  Ever remember seeing a commercial for it when it was at the theater?  Neither do I.  However, I do remember everyone talking about it.  You couldn’t go a full day without hearing someone quote a line from that movie.  In fact, I remember people quoting lines from the film that never even watched it.  Word of mouth made that movie a huge success and those involved with it stars.

In church marketing, word of mouth can make an event a success.  The opposite is true too.  If the word on the street is that no one is going, then no one will.  So how do you generate the buzz you need?  What does it take to get word of mouth, grass roots marketing working for you?  I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t happen by accident and it takes more than a few phone calls from you.

1. Make sure your leaders are there.  When leaders, staff members, and even board members get on board make attendance at events part of their commitment or covenant.  If the expectation is set forth in advance, and the value of their support is communicated, then you know they’ll be there and it will be a tremendous asset to your grass roots campaign.  Also, make it easy for them to be a part by not charging them for events or giving them a significant discount.

2. Make sure your support staff or student leadership is there.  Again, see what I wrote above.  This applies to your student council, worship team, etc.

3. Get your key influencers there.  This is huge.  These are the people others follow but are not necessarily in positions of leadership.  You know who they are.  Go after them personally!  If they’re not planning on going, find out why and start removing the excuses.  If they don’t have the money, offer to pay.  Let them know how much they’re appreciated and how much it would mean for you to have them there.

4. Distribute lists. Divide your group into manageable sized lists for your leaders to contact personally and invite to the event.  A personal invitation is worth more than all the fliers in the world!  Ask your key inluencers if they’d be interested in helping with this too.  Make sure that invitations are in person or over the phone and NOT by text, email or Facebook.

5. Social media.  Get everyone you know who’s going to start tweeting it, posting it, and sharing it.

This isn’t a definitive list but it should get you started.  Remember to personally stay positive and enthusiastic about your event.  If you’re not pumped about it, no one else will be either!

Good luck!

Have a Plan!

OK, you’ve planned your big event.  You’ve booked a great speaker and maybe a band.  Maybe it’s a youth event and you’ve made a great deal with a local pizza joint.  In any case, you’re looking forward to lots of people coming, and eventually having fond memories of the lives that were touched by all your efforts.

So often, lots of effort goes into planning the event, but very little time is invested in a marketing plan.  Someone throws up some posters, it’s printed in the bulletin, and it’s announced on Sunday morning.  The big day comes and, guess what? It’s a mediocre turnout.  At the next staff meeting, everyone sits around wondering what happened.  “Jim said he had to work.”,  “I wish we would have known there was a football game.”, and the ever popular, “People just aren’t as committed as they used to be.” come out.

That’s why it’s so important to have a marketing plan, a road map for how you’re going to get people to your event.  The following will help you as you map out your plan:

1. Summary.  Write a brief summary of what you wish to accomplish.

2. Goals. What are you marketing and what are your attendance goals?

3. Analysis. What’s the culture?  What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are the assets you can leverage?  What are you competing with?

4. Media. List the different forms of media you’ll be using.  Drop cards?  Facebook?  Radio?  Email?

5. Time-line. When will you start implementing what? When will you start announcing?  When do emails go out?

6. Creative.  Get “outside of the box” ideas.  Maybe a funny skit to promote your event.  What about grass roots efforts?  Brainstorm together and see what you come up with.

These are just a few questions.  The important part is that you start planning deliberately instead of your marketing efforts becoming an after-thought.  You’re planning a great event.  Let your marketing efforts be worthy of the event.

Leveraging Social Networking

Love it or hate it, social networking (also called social media) is here to stay and ignoring it is to your own detriment.

Imagine the local TV station calling you and offering to donate a sixty second commercial to you that viewers can watch any time, 24 hours a day.  Then imagine people from all over the world wanting to hear what’s on your heart and know what has your attention.  This is what happens when you post a video to YouTube, write a blog, create a Facebook group, or send a tweet.

Social networking is connecting us to our ministry community and opening up lines of communication like never before.  It’s like having several advertising and connection avenues open to us for FREE!

Here are 4 reasons your organization should be using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs:

1. It helps your congregation feel connected to you throughout the week. Sundays and Wednesdays aren’t enough to build community.  Let them feel like you’re always connected.  You can even take your Sunday message further by expounding on it at your blog.

2. It adds layers of communication when a message is urgent. Service canceled because of snow?  Do you really expect to call everyone to let them know?  Send a message to the Facebook group, Twitter the information (excellent if they’re following by text), and make a fun video of you out in the snow that you can post to YouTube and send out a link.

3. It puts you out there for seekers to find. I found the church I attend on the internet and others are finding their churches too.  When your Twitter profile, Facebook, blog, and YouTube profile all include links to your first class web site, it increases the chances of seekers finding your church exponentially.

4. It’s fun. It just is.  When you Twitter that you went the wrong way down a one way street in Chicago, your congregation members and you can all have a laugh at your expense on Sunday.  The team that’s in Mexico for a missions trip can post pictures instantly to Facebook, and that goofy video the youth group made can be shared with the world on YouTube.

You have life, love for each other, and great vision.  Why not share it with social networking?

What is it?

what_is_headline

It’s important to understand what marketing is if we’re going to have an effective marketing plan.  So often, marketing gets boiled down to promotion or advertising materials.  When that happens, churches simply state what they have going on at their church and expect people to come out.

You’ve probably seen something like this, “We have programs for all ages.”

Huh?

What does that even mean?

Another approach is simply to provide a schedule of events:

“Sunday – worship at 10:00am.
Wednesday – family night at 7:00pm”

All they’ve done is broadcast they’re schedule.  Unfortunately, that’s not marketing and it doesn’t usually work.

Marketing is simply this: understanding the needs of those you’re trying to reach, providing a service to meet those needs, then drawing people in to care for them.

If I’m a recently divorced mother of two and am looking for acceptance and community, “Sunday – worship at 10:00am” isn’t going to do much to draw me in.

No matter how you feel about this, the fact is people want to know, “What’s in it for me?”  If you can answer that question succinctly and clearly, then you’re on your way to effectively marketing your ministry.

The bottom line is this: churches are marketing the most wonderful thing of all, salvation and hope through Jesus Christ.  People should be lined up to receive it, but they’re not because of centuries of bad church marketing.  It’s important that we get this right.

Blessings.