Keep it Small

Marketing your organization can be really exciting!

Seriously, your head starts to swim with ideas, colors, and imagery for representing what you’re all about and what you have to offer.  Those are all good things.  Write those ideas down somewhere so you’ll remember them during your planning phase.  In fact, I like to keep an Evernote notebook full of ideas so that I can pull them up whenever I need inspiration.

At this point in the marketing process, a church or ministry may decide to hire a marketing professional, web designer, graphic artist, or all three.  Again, another great move!  It’s not wise to try and do it all yourself.  Just because your youth pastor has a pirated copy of Photoshop on his laptop doesn’t mean you’re good to go.  Designers spend years honing their craft and a well done, professionally designed logo or website can be an immense asset to your marketing efforts.

So far, so good.  It’s usually the next step where organizations make the wrong move…

For some reason churches and ministries feel the need to form a large committee when moving into new marketing territory.  There are several reasons why this is detrimental to your efforts and I’m going to give you a four…

It slows down the process.  Large committees equal long meetings where everyone wants their voice to be heard.  They were asked to be on the committee to share their opinion and they’re gonna share it.  When it comes time to review the artwork, it can take several weeks before everyone on the committee has a chance to look at it and get back to you.

It can drive up the cost of the project.  Time is money and when you have to make revision after revision because you have a couple of sticklers on your committee, you’ll pay for it.  Your ministry has other pressing financial needs.  You don’t need to throw money away because one of your committee members wants to see the logo in a slightly different shade of yellow.

It can obscure what you’re trying to communicate.  Let me explain.  If you’re the lead pastor, executive director, or president of your organization, you are going to be the most intimately acquainted with the vision.  It burns in your heart.  You think about it all the time.  You are going to be the most effective at communicating with your designer the concepts you would like to be represented in your artwork.  No one else will be able to do that like you!  Having a committee do that for you is like having your interior designer decorate your house based on third hand information.  You wouldn’t want to do that, would you?

Too many cooks spoil the broth.  In the end, no one is really happy with the design.  You end up compromising the vision to keep committee members happy, no one is super happy on the committee because it took too long, and your designer is now hoping you never call him again because of the frustration caused by working with your committee.

So what do you do?  Keep your team small.  Just you or you and one other person is perfect.  Remember, your designer is part of that team.  He’s not just a human computer mouse.  He has a ton of great ideas that will add massive value to your design.  Trust him.  This is what he does for a living!

Keeping it small will save you from frustration, save you money, and produce a product you will be much happier with for a long time!

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.