First, I apologize to all those pastors who are offended by the term “small church’. On more than one occasion, I’ve been curtly corrected when referring to a small-ish church as just that.
Second, those pastors should know that while they want to do more and reach more, there are some key advantages to attending a small church. It’s these advantages that we’ll focus on spotlighting in the following tips:
1) Know what you stand for: Every church has a personality and a culture. We’ve worked with some churches who were the “traditional” church in the community. They focused on traditional services, traditional music, traditional activities. Others were outward-focused. They were highly involved in missions and ministries. It was the overarching focus of much of what they talked about and programmed. Another was the local “family” church. Their programming was centered around ways for families to interact together, deeper the relationships with Christ and improve their quality of life. What do YOU stand for?
As a small church, you offer attendees a level of attention that they may not receive elsewhere. Programming might be sacrificed but could be balanced out by other ways they can get involved more intimately with your ministries. Focus on what you do well.
2) Know your primary audiences: People who serve in churches have good hearts and want to serve everyone, but you should break your marketing into segments: non-visitors, visitors, members, promoters (and look at them by demographics, too). You should prioritize and think through your messaging for these segments. Who are these folks and what are they looking for? How can you meet their needs?
Then, and here’s the hard part, mark off (for now) the ones who are not likely to gel with your small church atmosphere. Who is most likely to appreciate a small church atmosphere? What message do they want to hear? They may be bombarded with messages from other types of churches that focus on edgy concerts, cool technology, or unusual worship times…and that might not resonate with them at all. They might be looking for an approach and worship style just like you offer.
3) Know what programming works and what doesn’t: Marketing the same old programs over and over might be the low-hanging fruit, but it’s rotten if those programs are no longer attracting the audiences they once did. We see so many church committees and volunteers just going through the motions: it’s Fall, so it must be time to do Discipleship 1! It’s just easier to do what you’ve always done, isn’t it? Our methodology is to look at the trends in the registration and then decide what is working and what is not. You must experiment and test new, sticky small groups and programs.
4) Know how to create promoters: When was the last time you asked a family, members or regular attenders, to tell you what was so fabulous about your church? Video testimonials are wildly powerful and should be a part of your marketing arsenal. Additionally, give your biggest promoters the tools they need to invite and incite. Tools could include special Facebook incentives, coupons, take-aways, leave-behinds, talking points – just about anything that is well-crafted and helps YOUR members tell YOUR story more easily and comfortably.
Closing: For many folks, church marketing still is an uncomfortable topic, but in this day and age we can’t leave anything to chance. Your job is to do more and reach more with your message and ministries. Marketing must be a priority.
For more information on how Professional Mojo can help you with your church marketing, contact us today.
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