Tips from Matt Hearn
By Rev. Matt Hearn
Why should a church market?
- Marketing makes the community aware of your presence. When Gateway started in 2007 we were excited about what God was doing. After the first three or four months we averaged around 90 people. I had a friend visit the church and say that this was a great church that nobody knew about. We made the decision to market to get the word out that something exciting was happening. We did an advertising campaign in August and September of 2007 and our attendance swelled to an average of 150 in October and November.
- Marketing makes it easier for your people to invite their friends. The best marketing continues to be a personal invite. We want our people to invite their friends to church. One way to make that invite easier is to create familiarity with your church through marketing. So we preach on the need to invest in relationships. To love our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, and invite them into a life changing relationship with Christ. We provide invite cards (business-sized cards with church name, logo, and website) so that our people can easily invite their friends. Our folks tell us that when people have already heard of Gateway, they are more likely to respond to the invitation. (Invite cards cost $35 for 1,000 color business cards.)
Remember that marketing is about multiple touches. Doing one of these, one time, will not be effective. Marketing works when a person has been engaged from multiple sources.
- Website: Most people visit your website before they will visit your church. A church should seriously consider how its website looks to those visiting it. Many church websites look very unprofessional and are difficult to navigate. Build your website for those who are considering a visit by giving the service times and how to get there. Showcase great photos. When someone visits your site, you want them to have a clear understanding of what to expect. Great photos of the church set expectations. Do not clutter your website with announcements. For help developing a website, visit www.CloverSites.com (specific for churches; $1,000 one-time fee and $25/month) and www.Weebly.com ($8 to $25/month with no start-up costs).
- Social Media: Make sure you have a social media presence. Be disciplined in what you post. Make sure you replace the default or stock logo with your church logo. If you have a page, update it often. But be disciplined in your updates: use pictures and videos, not links. Teach your folks to check in on Facebook on Sundays and to share videos and pictures from the church’s Facebook page. We posted a video from the Sunday service and it had 50 shares and 16,000 views. (A $200 ad on Facebook can connect you with 20,000 people in your community.)
- New Movers Card: Send a postcard to everyone moving to your community. Outreach and other companies will send a postcard to new people in your area. You can set the price. The people most likely looking for a church are people who are new to the area. (100/month, $150)
- In-house Mailers: This is something that is unique to Gateway. Here is what we do: Outreach sends us the contact information from all of the people who received our welcome to the neighborhood postcard in an Excel spreadsheet. Each month it is between 120-150 names. We take that information and combine it with our first time guest database. Then we re-send a post card advertising the church or an upcoming series. This allows us to re-engage with people already connected (guests who have given us their information) and to continue to engage with new people. This is the multiple impression effect. Once the card is printed, we print labels, sort the address and deliver the postcards to the post office in-house. We typically do these in September, December, January, and Easter. (2,500 4x6 color cards $170, non-profit bulk postage cost of $0.17/card – $425)
- Mass Mailer: Reach everyone in your target community with a postcard. We typically do a mass mailer before school starts in August and after Christmas break at the end of January. (Prices vary: 30,000 piece mailer $5,700 from www.truthadvertising.org or www.outreach.com)
- Be creative: Look for creative ways to get the word out about your congregation.
Rev. Matt Hearn serves as senior pastor of Gateway Community Church in Pooler. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.