At a recent Word of Mouth Marketing convention several bigwigs sat down and came up with 40 ideas to boost word of mouth marketing in 40 minutes. As leadership in a church shouldn’t we be thinking about these same types of things? What are we doing to refocus our congregation on relationship building, evangelism or servant evangelism? What tools are we putting in their hands to make that happen? So often we forget that as leaders we can reach a few people, but if we empower our congregations they can reach exponentially more people. It’s how the church works.
So without further ado here is my list of Word of Mouth boosters for churches. Some of these are taken directly from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association list (link via Brand Autopsy) as they apply in both instances. And some are originals. I whittled the list down from 43 to 18 as I felt some of theirs were redundant or did not apply.
1. Identify the Connectors (see Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point) in your church and encourage them to do what is natural.
2. If you train your congregation in the ways of evangelism, they become better recruiters. Teach them about servant evangelism, enable them to make friends in the world, make evangelism easy. Bring it back to the way that Christ modeled.
3. Make it easy for people to find you (i.e. yellow pages, signage, website, free advertising sources, paid advertising sources).
4. Use interesting stories or testimonials to bring your ministry impact topics to life. Whether it be on your promo materials or on your website or in your services, oftentimes this has more impact than the sermon.
5. Encourage your church marketing evangelists to tell two friends about you, not just one.
6. Do something unexpected and generous for your congregation–send a free item (include an extra one for them to pass along to a friend) just for being a valued member of the church. This can include T-Shirts, Sermon CDs, Books that the church finds foundational, etc.
7. Do something unexpected and generous for your visitors. The visitors bag should not be a boring place. Your printed materials should be of professional quality. In the very least they should be printed in color and not just on colored paper. The material should be informative and positive in tone. And there should be a gift of some sort like a gift certificate to Starbucks or Chick-Fil-A
8. Create experiences. Your services should be experiential.
9. Be an evangelist for your evangelists. If there is someone you know who is making a difference in bringing people in to your church then point them out so others can learn from what they’re doing. You would also do well to praise them in front of others. Make them feel special, as they are.
10. Give your congregation business card holders packed with referral cards.
11. Ask–just ask your congregation to talk about you. (Duh!)
12. Leverage the content your church creates to make it talk-worthy. This includes PowerPoint slides, the bulletin, touch cards, visitor bags, outline sheets etc. If it can be used in multiple places then do so (i.e., web site, visitor bags, etc). And make it memorable.
13. Put your marketing collateral in something noticeable that gets people talking.
14. Make it easy for people to easily spread the word about you (Create a button for their blog or web site, a card or CD they can pass along to a friend)
15. Create clever 30-second viral videos and post to your home page. Poke fun at yourselves. Do something fun. Spoof a popular TV show. Talk about something in current culture. Engage the audience.
16. Let your congregation create ways to make it easy for members to show off their creativity. Use artwork by church members on Thinking of You cards, post cards, church bulletins etc.
17. Let your marketing evangelists know you’re listening. Comment on their blogs, invite them to marketing planning meetings or to your office for a VIP meeting to hear their ideas.
18. Join in the conversation (and start one if needed).