Letting the world know you exist
Here is where the tools of marketing can be repurposed. There are lots of ways to let the world know your parish exists, and even better, many are free or very low-cost (though they do require some effort)
Let’s start with the free stuff:
Community Bulletin Boards: Are there bulletin boards at local gathering places where you could put up a flyer or brochure? Check out gyms, local shops and cafes, and community centers
Press Releases: Local newspapers and TV stations are always looking for material to fill their pages and airwaves. You can send them whole articles and images and often they will be printed and you can be on TV! What could you send out a press release for? How about – Mardis Gras/Shrove Tuesday supper or Animal Blessing or Special Services or a Funeral for a prominent community member or Special Events or Parishioners involved in community organizations and events or New ministries or programs? There’s nothing to be lost by sending it to the media and lots to be gained.
Social Media: there are multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. The most popular one in the world is Facebook. About 68% of Americans who have internet service use Facebook, so if you have to choose just one, this is the one to be one.
Facebook: the parish can be either a Page or a Group
Pages are open to everyone to see, but only about 10% of those who “like” you will receive a given post
Groups have members, can be public or private and all members get posts – group functions only work up to about 250 people
Website: free websites are available and easy to set up. Some popular platforms are Weebly, Wix, and WordPress, but there are others. These are designed so that even novices can create a simple website. You can buy a unique address (url) for not very much money.
Before moving on, let’s talk about the internet. Young people (like 50 and under) use the internet primarily to find out information about pretty much everything; restaurants, hotels, tourism, travel and church. A recent study suggested that the majority of people thinking of visiting a church will visit the website first. You can’t not be on the internet if you expect to be a viable, let alone a thriving church.
Some churches have only a Facebook page and not a website. This isn’t necessarily bad, but keep in mind a couple of things. Not everyone on the internet uses Facebook, so you’re cutting out at least a quarter of internet users. Also it can be difficult to find a church on Facebook – there are lot of St _________’s out there – don’t make it harder for people to find you than is necessary. Also, as a general rule, Facebook works best to maintain connection with people who are already connected to your community; websites are primarily effective to introduce your parish to new people.
Your Website should have these 4 items on your homepage
(they should also be in the “About” box of your Facebook page, if you have one)
An invitation to come and be part of your church
marketing tools that can be used that cost very little:
Sign: this is pretty basic, but there should be an easy to read sign out front with at least the church’s name. If possible, add service times and web address or phone number. No one really cares who the pastor is, but don’t let them rust in place.
-Also, one of those denominational signs at the nearest intersection is worthwhile.
–And consider banners for special services like Easter and Xmas.
Website: websites are often free, but a unique URL is about $15/year. In other words you can be mullensepiscopal.org or www.weebly.com/mullensepiscopal. This is money well spent. Also, try to come up with an address that includes the name of your community (or street), because there aren’t a lot of original church names.
Online Advertising: Facebook advertising is relatively inexpensive and takes two forms. You can “boost” an individual post (starting at $3) which puts your post in front of more eyeballs or you can buy ads that show up to the right of your timeline. Honestly, the response rate to boosts is greater than to ads.
Sponsorships: Youth sports, banners at school sports venues, concerts, speakers, community events, Scouts, AA, NA
Participate in community wide events: Booths or games at festivals, neighborhood garage sales, fairs
So, someone gave you a few thousand extra dollars to spend on Evangelism? Fantastic, here are some ideas on how to use it:
Media Advertising: Radio, TV, Newspaper, visitor guides, etc. Many newspapers run special sections for churches at Christmas and Easter.
Direct Mail: Services available that will print and mail postcards through USPS (EDDM)
Keep in mind the volume of mailed advertisers most households receive. You’re better off if you can a professionally designed mailer and it needs to have a specific offer or invitation.
Lawn Signs: You can get these made at places like FedEx Office, UPS stores and Staples. Pricey for a specific event, but if you can reuse them their cost effectiveness improves. Pay attention to ordinances about where they can be placed and how long they can stay up
Billboards: Costs depends on location and size – pay attention to how easy the sign is to see and ask who is advertising near you. These are hard to ignore and are fairly effective.
Of all of these, roadside billboards are likely the biggest bang for your buck. They can’t be turned off or fast-forwarded through and they often get left in place after your run is finished if no other advertisers take the same spot.