Ten Church Strategies: The Marketing Strategy

Here’s another one of those words that make some pastors and christian leaders cringe when associated with the church: marketing. I contemplated just calling this the ‘Outreach’ system since it is primarily about encouraging the community to visit the church. The problem is that we also associate Outreach to much more than that (like missions, and ministry to the poor/needy). So I’m keeping ‘Marketing’ as the word to describe this system.

Despite the uncomfortable connotations of the word, nearly every pastor believes in marketing the church. If a church has a website, ads in local papers, info in the white pages, or a sign on the front lawn, then that church is into marketing. In fact, I recommend you check out this page located at, interestingly enough: www.churchmarketingsucks.com.

In this installment of ‘The Ten Church Systems‘ I will outline several areas every church should develop in order to effectively attract the unchurched, overchurched, and dechurched (been there, done that) in their communities. If you haven’t already, I recommend you first read my ‘Getting Started Thoughts and Disclaimers’, written in three parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Key Sub-Systems of The Marketing System:
Following are the key Sub-Systems related to The Marketing System. You’ll notice that a core value of marketing is effective and relevant communication.

  • Website System
    The church website is a vital part of The Marketing System. This system will include the development of a powerful website that is both attractive and easy to navigate. The best website will serve both prospective guests as well as longstanding members. The Website System will also ensure that content is consistently updated and relevant. (Check out ‘Guest Friendly Website’.)
  • Traditional Advertisement System
    This system will include a clear analysis and implementation of the most appropriate forms of traditional advertising. It may include things like newspaper ads, TV or radio ads, and telephone book ads.
  • Social Media System
    Unless the church is reaching a very narrow group in the community, social media is and will continue to become a very important part of church promotions. This system will include determining the best types of social media to engage with and will keep each one relevant and up to date. Social media systems may include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and more.
  • Special Event Promotion System
    This system will focus on the effective promotion of special church events that may draw the community. Church productions, Christmas programs, unique outreaches, upcoming message series, and key classes are just a few examples of possible events to promote outside the church. The Special Event Promotion System will get the word out to the community in the most effective ways possible. It may include touchcards, posters, billboards, radio ads, and more.
  • Word of Mouth System
    The best marketing happens informally through attendees who are excited about the church. The Word of Mouth System will equip attendees to ‘talk it up’ through effective communication and hands-on materials they can use to supplement their invitations. Pastors and church leaders will intentionally tell church attendees about upcoming exciting events or services so they can get the word out. The best system will also put something in their hands to use as an invitation – like posters, flyers, or touchcards. Obviously, an updated and exciting website and social media should support and supplement this system as well.
  • Church Communications System
    Church communications is probably one of the most challenging systems to develop for pastors and church leaders. This system will ensure all church activities get promoted appropriately. It will prevent some events from getting over-promoted while others are under-promoted. The Church Communications System will provide a simple way for church leaders to submit communications requests. Those requests will eventually be approved after consideration has been made as to what methods of promotions they will receive – for example, verbal promo, newsletter, e-blasts, bulletin inserts, website page, etc.
  • Branding & Graphic Arts System
    This system will determine what needs to have a specific brand within the church. Of course the church itself should have a relevant logo, but sometimes specific ministries or events should be branded as well. Often, individual message series, sermons, or special events will have a unique brand too. This system will develop brands and graphics and distribute them to the other Marketing sub-systems.

Note: Inspiration for the Ten Church Systems comes from Nelson Searcy and the Eight Systems of the Local Church he proposed in his free e-book entitled, ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘.

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