Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mass Marketing

This week everyone is being bombarded by churches vying for the Easter crowd to come to their services. We know that Easter is the second most popular day for the non church goer to attend, but what about all the postcards, bandit signs, and newspaper ads. I am not going to come out against such marketing, because I do believe that we should market the church in as many creative and effective ways as possible. However this year, and last, we chose not to do the mailers. Here are some reasons I will throw out for you to consider.

1. Expense - Mailers are expensive and for that reason many churches do not attempt it. Marketing firms will tell you that a prospective consumer needs to see your ad seven times before there is name recognition. It is not enough to send one card; effective strategy requires more of a steady stream of communication. Unfortunately, most churches only do mass marketing one time a year making their return low on the investment. 2. Effectiveness - We have also seen a decrease in the effectiveness of mailers as its "unique" has worn off. In the 80's and 90's almost nobody did mass mailers, now it seems that all churches do them. Unfortunately, they can get lost in the shuffle. 3. Disconnect - It seemed that the people who came as a result of our mailers were disconnected from the church. Yes they attended, but often without really knowing anyone. We do our best to be friendly and to put our guests first. But retention of people who come because a friend invited them is incomparable. 4. Message - (And this is my big one.) Last year we realized that we were not teaching our people to be the church in the community, and invite their friends and neighbors to worship. We, subconsciously, were teaching that outreach was something that was a line item in the Easter budget. We were sending the wrong message to our people as well as our community.

Relationships and personal invitations are the way to go for us. Our people are our best advertisement. As God has worked in their lives, and they are excited about what God is doing, They tell their friends and neighbors and basically anyone who will listen. One of our people told me that she was accused on Monday of "being off preaching again". I love it! Wasn't it Paul who said in 2 Corinthians 3 "You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart."

So we don't spend $3,000-$5,000 on Easter to send out post cards. Some day that may be a good investment for us, but for now, I believe that it is best to consistently give our people personal invitations that they can pass out, not just for Easter and Christmas, but monthly. It sends the right message, it is better for retention, and it frees up much needed resources for other ministries.

Tell me what you think....