This year our church made the decision to pull all of our traditional marketing dollars (phone book, newspaper, radio, etc.), and we moved it to equipping our people and staff to engage and connect with the lost. That sentence makes it sound perfect and glamorous. It wasn’t, but the end result and current culture shifting has made it all worth it.
As the director of communications I spent the first month talking to, let’s say, “established” members of our congregation and leadership who were deeply concerned, and even offended that we had pulled our weekly newspaper blurb noting the sermon title and preaching pastor. Our executive pastor also had many conversations with people who were confused and worried. It was a rough few weeks, but once we were able to articulate our reasoning (see catalyst #2, below), everyone was pretty much on board.
Two Catalysts for the Decision:
Number one: I was feeling increasingly uneasy with the monthly expenses of keeping up with the newspaper and telephone book ads (that stuff costs big bucks!).
Number two: We discovered that about 50% of guests were finding us through whoisgrace.com and the other half were coming through personal invitation.
Truth be told, catalyst #2 was the reason we moved that money, and it almost automatically shifted the staff’s expectation of what our marketing strategy should look like. We started speaking in terms of “relationships,” “investment” and “customization.” We also stopped saying “marketing” and started saying “communication.”
It is now way more important for us to listen for and tell stories about people coming to Grace through friends and relatives than it is to have a big “successful” marketing campaign with community buzz every year.
How We’re Using Our Marketing Budget Today:
Sermon Promo: We still promote sermon series on our web site and to our people in the building, and we also will give them inviter cards from time to time, but it’s so they can pray about and discern who they should be inviting to hear that particular message.
Database Management: We also used some of that budget to beef up our database. We now have centralized data and a better way to care for our people on an on-going basis.
This move might not be for everyone, but it worked for us. We now have a congregation that is empowered and willing to bring people to church. They are our marketers. They define our brand. And my job? It’s a lot more rewarding these days.