I tend to be an all-or-nothing person. If I make a change in my life, it tends to be grandiose and over-the-top. For instance, I recently decided that I wanted to start a running routine. But instead of just slipping on sneakers and heading out the door, I went to Nike and bought three running outfits, wireless headphones, and a running app.
Even though, in this instance, I fell victim to gear gluttony, I know that some of the most effective changes we can make both in our personal and church lives are small changes. Small changes are often more sustainable. And when you make multiple small changes and be consistent with them over time, they can have large implications.
And so I present to you seven subtle marketing tweaks that you can make today. These tweaks are the antithesis of grandiose. But while they may seem simple—perhaps even underwhelming—these changes, implemented consistently, will produce results.
1. Stop saying, “Don’t miss it!”
Churches often use sensational phrases to persuade people. For instance, if my church is promoting an event, we might say, “Don’t miss it!” or “It’s going to be awesome/life changing!”
Not only are these forms of communication lazy, they’re also fundamentally untrue. Not every event can be life changing. And if I do miss your event, it’s highly unlikely there will be any consequences.
Here’s a quick tweak: Instead of saying “Don’t miss it!” say “See you there!”
2. Realize that no one is listening to you.
One of my own pivotal moments in marketing was when I realized that no one was listening to me. When I got on stage to share announcements, when I told people to drop by the Visitors’ Center, when I taught in a video—no one was listening.
Each one of us is bombarded with messages and marketing on a non-stop basis. Inevitably, we tune most of it out. It’s important to recognize that no one in your church will remember the time and date of the event you just shared. They just won’t. And that’s not a bad thing.
3. Choose inspiration over information.
So if no one is listening to you, how do you share important information? The key here is to not focus on information but, instead, on inspiration.
Here’s an example: The next time you promote an upcoming mission trip, instead of sharing the dates, time, cost, deadlines, etc., share an inspiring story of a past trip. I won’t remember the info that you share, but if the story is compelling, I will remember that.
4. Have a consistent “next step.”
Let’s assume you share a great story from the platform (tweak #3), and you’ve got my attention and interest about an upcoming event. What next?
It’s highly important that I know the next step. I probably don’t need to know the time, date, or cost, but I do need to know what my next step is.
Normally I hear churches phrase it like this: “If you want to get involved talk to Michael or visit the Connect Center or fill out your card or visit us online or call the church office.”
The problem with this style of communication is that there are simply too many options. An easy marketing tweak your church can make is to have a single hub for next steps. Maybe it’s your Visitors’ Center, or maybe it’s your website. It’s not really important what it is: just pick something and be consistent with it. That way, people always know where to go if they want to get involved.
5. Share only 3 announcements each week.
This is a rule our church lives by: Share only 3 announcements each week. This keeps our promotion time during the service within the sweet spot. And it also forces us to be very choosy with what gets shared from stage and what doesn’t.
6. Call it like it is.
When a church launches a new men’s ministry, most will be very hesitant to call it Men’s Ministry. Instead, they’ll want to call it something fun like Men of Bacon. But of course, that’s too long, so we need to shorten it (churches love acronyms). So “Men of Bacon” becomes “M.O.B.” And next time there’s a breakfast being hosted by the men in the church, we hear something like, “We’ll see you at The MOB Breakfast!” Which to a listener sounds like “Ma Breakfast.” Which doesn’t sound like something men would attend at all.
This is bad. It’s just…so bad. I’m a big advocate of communicating simply. So if your church is called “Engage Church” here’s a simple way to title your ministries: Engage Men, Engage Kids, Engage Women, Engage Students, etc.
If you want a successful example of this style of marketing, look no further than Coke. You’ve got Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke…
7. Be human.
When you’re on stage, when you’re online, when you’re posting on the church Facebook page, be human.
What I mean by that is you don’t need a persona. You don’t need to act differently on Sunday morning or online than you do on Sunday night with your family. The best marketing is honest. The best marketing is transparent. As a church leader you have the influence to set the tone within your church. Don’t put on a mask. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Be human.
So those are the seven subtle marketing tweaks you can start making today. Have you had success in the past trying any of these ideas? Share in a comment below.