Advertising Social Media

Your Church’s Biggest Missed Opportunity on Social Media

More and more, our churches are looking for strategies to cut through the noise of Social Media (and life in general) and reach our community. We know that a large part of our community using Social Media, and so it stands to reason that this is a practical way that we can take the hope of Jesus to them.

The question remains: How?

We’ve made great strides on Social Media in the last few years. Many (hopefully most) churches recognize it’s importance in their communications and outreach strategy (compared to 5 years ago for instance when churches were having discussions about whether or not to have a Facebook presence).

Now a social media presence is understood as a necessity. We’ve moved from conversations about whether or not to have social media accounts, and moved toward asking the question:


What do we post on our Social Media accounts to be most effective?

There are 2 concepts when it comes to social media: Content and Format.

Content is WHAT we post and format is HOW we post it, so follow my thought process here for a moment to realize that the intersection of engaging content and engaging format is a sweet spot for Social Media.

How can we be effective? We’re going to give our community the content they’re looking for in their preferred format.

Great content without a great format: Imagine your favorite dessert (warm cherry pie with vanilla ice cream – just for example) and then serve it on a dirty plate. You’re serving content someone wants, but in a format that would make them turn the other way.

Great format without great content: Imagine a perfectly clean plate with a beautiful dessert that you put in salt instead of sugar, and the first bite is repelling. Your format is great, but your content isn’t enjoyable.

NOW, what if we could serve a delicious warm cherry pie with vanilla ice cream, beautifully set on a perfectly clean plate. Bingo.


The question is where is that intersection. We’ll look at content and format individually, then talk about where they intersect.


What type of CONTENT is our community looking for?

“About half of U.S. adults have looked for a new religious congregation at some point in their lives, most commonly because they have moved. And when they search for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study shows, Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.”

This is from a Pew Research article here (from 2016) that later goes on to say that those numbers are 83% of people are considering the quality of the sermons and 79% are looking to feel welcomed by, and a connection to the leaders.

In this Pew Research article, (also 2016) it shows that the younger someone’s age group, the more connected they are to the quality of sermons – Quality of sermons matters to 77% of ages 65 and older, but matters 87% to ages 18-29, and both age groups are highly interested in feeling welcomed by leaders.

Younger people are also more likely to take a recommendation from a friend or family member about their church – a recommendation like a shared post on Social media, perhaps?

An overwhelming majority of people want to find a connection to the leader – through the quality of their sermons and feeling welcomed by their leaders.

The people who are looking for a church like yours want to experience your sermon and get to know your leaders: These are both key factors in their decision about where to go to church.

It’s also a growing trend that people are checking out your church’s website and social media channels to aid in their decision about visiting.

We can help in someone’s decision by featuring our leaders and sermons on Social Media to help people get to know our leaders and hear their sermons to build a level of comfort and trust before visiting.

Answer: Sermons are the type of content our community is looking for!


Which FORMAT is most engaging on Social Media?

You probably don’t even need to keep reading to recognize that the answer is VIDEO, but for fun, let’s drive it home like a rental car.

Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined.

By posting video, you’re more likely to have people in your church sharing and posting with their friends – and a recommendation from friends or family is a key reason people will check out a church.

That, and 54 other stats about social media video come from this article from Biteable: Here are a few more:


  • 6 out of 10 people would rather watch online videos than TV.
  • By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017.
  • 78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day.
  • 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text.
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text.
  • Social media posts with video have 48% more views.


Good News For Churches: The intersection is SERMON VIDEOS!

The good news for churches is that the intersection for us between content and format is SERMON VIDEOS – a content and format combination that many of us are already creating, but underutilizing on Social Media.

How to make the most of your sermon videos on Social Media:

Now that we know where the intersection is, here are a few tips to maximize your impact.

  1. Post sermon clips with links rather than full-length messages. Maybe your Pastor’s sweet spot is in the middle of the message from last week, or maybe there’s a great story that clipped away from a Christmas Message is actually a great lesson to be learned year-round. Create clips to help people cut to the meat, really learn what a sermon is like at your church, and create an “evergreen” or “year-round” content library that you can pull from.
  2. The sweet spot for videos is around 60-90 seconds. People will watch longer sometimes, but this is where most engagement happens according to Animoto. 
  3. Post sermon clips that aren’t just teaching, but also stories that help people make a personal connection to your leaders. This could be a story from your pastor’s sermon about their life growing up, a recent conversation with their kids, a friend that came to Jesus, or a funny joke that really shows off his or her personality.
  4. Format the clips for each Social Media channel specifically. Instagram timeline is best suited to a square video and has a max running time of 60 seconds. Instagram Stories are vertical video and are cut into 15-second clips. Facebook allows for a longer format and is best in widescreen, so if someone wants to, they can turn their phone sideways and the video fills their screen.
  5. Add Subtitles: 95% of users watch video on mute. Think about when you’re lying in bed, hanging out in the break room scrolling social media, at the doctor’s office or “indisposed.” While your Pastor may be a very expressive communicator, someone waving their hands on stage isn’t enough for viewers to get the message or stick around for 3 minutes. Use a service like to have your videos transcribed for $1/minute, then they’ll send you a file that you upload with your facebook video so a users sees the captions if they’re muted, and the captions go away if they turn on the audio.
  6. Be consistent. Using a video strategy one week and not the next will just take your facebook reach on a rollercoaster of ups and downs. The best strategy is to pick a regular quantity of videos and stick with it.


Sermon Video Clips are the intersection of content and format for your church’s Social Media strategy to reach your community!


I’ve created a service that will help your church with editing and repurposing your sermon clips. Each week you’ll receive:




1 -IGTV CLIP (UP TO 5:00)

Advertising Branding Marketing

How to Kill Bad Church Events Using Great Marketing

Trust me when I say I’ve been there. An event comes across my desk, and I roll my eyes, completely ignore it and hope it goes away, but I’ve learned that rarely works. Why? Because often when the event flops, the organizer blames it on poor promotion.

Some people can’t wrap their brain around the thought that there isn’t a huge crowd of people begging to be part of the 70’s and over, couples skydiving and paintball event, so when you roll your eyes at the thought of promoting that event on the last page of the bulletin or honorable mention on the corner of the website calendar, it only takes one person to say “I didn’t hear about that,” and now the event organizer is convinced that the event flopped, not because of lack of interest, but because of poor promotion and marketing.

So how can you kill that event that everyone except the event organizer knows won’t fly? Great Marketing.

If you promote the event with great marketing, put your full effort into it and create a measurable standard for what a “successful” event looks like, then the event organizer can’t blame marketing anymore. They may actually come to terms that the interest isn’t there for their event.


Here’s Where Clarity Wins:

What is the marketing team for?

In the event organizer’s mind, the marketing team may be to convince people to show up to events. In your mind, it may be to make people aware of the event and allow them to decide if they want to show up. Get clear on the differences for both you and the event organizer.

If you’re not, the event organizer always has an excuse to blame poor attendance on marketing – after all, in their mind, your job is to convince people to come, and since no one came, you must not have done your job.


Which of our church’s core values is this going to be emphasized at this event?

Is the goal of this event is to build relationships, reach out to the community, give people an opportunity to use their musical gifts, bring in outside donor funds for a new outreach facility, equipping parents to understand their kids’ health or help people improve their marriage? Which of our church’s core values is going to be emphasized, and how does that create a a simple goal for this event?

This isn’t time for a marketing slogan, alliteration or creating a perfect hashtag. This is one sentence that describes the one main focus of the event. This is easily framed with “If your neighbor who doesn’t come to our church asked what this event is about, what could you tell them to explain it?”

Some examples are “Helping people have better communication within their marriage” or “Going to build an orphanage in Peru” or “Dinner and dancing you can invite their friends to, so they can meet other people from church.”


What is considered a ‘win’ for this event?

I made the mistake too many times of not having this discussion before an event. After the event, we would get together for an after-action review (that’s coming further down the page) and I would say “Wow, you had 50 people at your event! That’s great,” and the event organizer (without fail) would say “yes, but I was expecting more. More people would have come if there was some additional promotion.”

Before an event starts, have a kick-off meeting, and set goals for the event. Ask questions like “Based on $20/person, how many people do you need to show up to cover the costs of the event?” or “How many people attended this event last time?” and  (believe it or not) “How many people would you like to see at this event in order to consider it a success?”

That last question can be a can of worms, because that person may say 200 people want to attend the 70s and over couples  midnight skydiving and paintball party when there are only 15 people over the age of 70 at your church, and you know the event organizer is probably the only one wanting to go skydiving and play paintball.

Instead of saying “That’s completely unrealistic” like I would say, (you can say it in your head)  you could point out that there are only 15 people that this event could apply to, and ask if you could broaden the range.

Broadening the range may look like “Based on only having 15 people who would fit in your age range, would you consider expanding your age range? Expanding it from 70 and over to 40 and over would give us a better probability of seeing 200 registrations.” or ” Maybe a $200 dinner and dancing package might not be realistic for 60 couples. Would you consider finding a different restaurant to bring the evening down to $100/couple? How many people do you think that could include?”

If the organizer says “No, this is what the event is going to be,” then you need to say “Based on previous events, age demographics at our church, the average age of families in our neighborhood and the cost of the event, 200 registrations isn’t realistic. What do you think is realistic?”


Don’t move forward without that answer

If the event organizer isn’t willing to come to terms here, no amount of marketing/promotion/advertising is going to solve that. Bring in someone to help move the conversation forward, but don’t talk about how / what promotion will take place until that number is clear – It gives everyone involved a goal and target to push for.

It’s also possible that after this discussion, the event organizer realizes that this event is not going to be the success they imagined it may be. It’s helpful to allow the organizer to get to that conclusion, not heavily suggest that the event isn’t going to work. If that suggestion is yours, then the assumption may be that your team has already decided not to put in full effort.


Compare the anticipated registration to your promotional tiers

Here’s a video I created with Kyler Nixon about creating and promoting within even categories at your church. If these categories aren’t yet clear at your church, then create them and get clear. If not, everything becomes “top priority”.

Protip: When you talk about which category this event falls into, mention a few other recognizable and successful events that fell into this category. “The canned food drive was also a tier 2 event, and we had our largest donation amount ever.” or “This is the same tier that the Kids Church team used to recruit 20 new volunteers this past spring.” or “This is the tier we use for our yearly mission trip.”

The event organizer needs to know that the promotion they are receiving is on par with other successful events.

PRO-TIP: Throwing in a few ‘bonus’ promotions outside of the tier – maybe an instagram story, or organizing a facebook event  or an extra in-service announcement will help give your discussion strength if you can say you went above and beyond, and the event didn’t take off. This goes against everything you want – I know – but it’s essential in helping the organizer understand if there’s an interest in this event.


Have an After-Action review

Be sure once the event is done that you get together to talk about the event. Did the number of participants match the considered “Success”? Bring a record of how you promised you would promote (based on your tier system) and the dates and times, print material, and announcements you used in your strategy. There’s no need to bring this information out unless your commitment to the promotion is questioned.

Phrase your ideas as questions to the event organizer “Do you think people may not be interested in this topic right now?” would be better than “This doesn’t work and we’re not doing it again.” and follow up with “Is there something else we can try to accomplish this goal next time?”

PRO-TIP: Let’s say the event was a crazy success. You have to be willing to say “wow, that response was great. Let’s do it again next year!”

This process isn’t about you being right, it’s about giving every event the best opportunity to be successful and have honest conversations about the events that were, and be willing to put an end to events that aren’t.




Advertising Tools

Church Bulletins: Why or Why Not?

Recently, I spoke at a conference where I was asked (ok, I baited the question) about my thoughts on bulletins – to be clear, I would consider a bulletin a printed list of upcoming events or information, not an “order of service” or printed liturgy. (side note: I’d love to speak at your event or with your team. Let’s start the conversation here)

I think in answering the question that we arrived on the thought that bulletins are specific to each church and there are no right or wrong blanket statements for whether it’s best for all churches to have a bulletin or not.

I told the story of how I transitioned the church I served with from having a bulletin to a weekly email newsletter over the course of 6 months, and how I used surveys (both online and in paper) to find out how many people were actually using our bulletin compared to our email newsletter and evaluating those results with the paper, ink, photocopier ‘per piece’ lease cost and labor involved in producing it weekly or monthly.

I had to apologize during that session that I came across with the suggestion that all churches should get rid of their bulletin. I believe that through the conversation, we all understood that bulletins are very effective at serving some churches, and very ineffective at serving other churches.

There were many follow up questions – questions that I believe were genuine – about the purpose that the bulletin serves and how those purposes could be served otherwise, and I confirmed that I don’t hate bulletins.


Bulletins are merely a symptom

What concerns me about the conversation (not at this conference, but the larger conversation that I have with many churches about their communications) is that we are often making communication decisions based on:

  • What we’ve always done
  • What we anecdotally / logically think is best
  • What might upset someone if it changed

… and unfortunately, communication elements (like bulletins, or announcements) are often this untouchable piece of the puzzle based on the “What about”s created by the information above.

We have limited time and resources (for some, that limit is higher than others) so it’s worth finding ways to evaluate if our current strategies are the most effective strategies.


For example:

Make a list of the “What about”s:

Let it all out here. Finish the sentence “If we were to discontinue the bulletin, what about…”

All of the anecdotal concerns, fears, and possibilities, but before you make this list commit not to let the process end here. In the example of a bulletin, here are some great questions that I hear:

  • What about new visitors? How would they know what’s going on since we don’t have their email address yet to send them that information?
  • What about the person who volunteers and proofreads the bulletin each week?
  • What about people don’t find out what’s going on and miss events?
  • What about greeters who lose their ‘comfort blanket’ of having something in their hands to hand out
  • Our email newsletter only gets read by 25% of people. What about the other 75%?
  • (insert other “what about”s here)

Add up the costs:

If your bulletin takes an hour in a staff meeting or an hour worth of back and forth emails to discuss each week, an hour of design time each month to create a format, then an hour of inputting content each week, an hour of proofreading and verifying the content with every department, an hour pounding the photocopier and monitoring it for paper jams, plus the cost of paper, ink, and your “per piece” cost on the lease, then it may be worth the effort to add up all of those details and discover what the actual cost is to produce your bulletin each month.

In our church, the cost was between $400-$500/month


Find out how effective that method is:

Next, you’ll need to find out how effective your bulletin is. Include a survey on the inside of the bulletin asking people to answer a few questions (for instance: How do you first find out about new events at church? Where do you look for more information about events between Monday-Saturday? Help us update our records: What is your first name and your email address?)

Be clear about how to submit that survey (ie. rip of this section and leave it in the offering plate either this week or next week.)

Also, send out an email version of the survey (this is great to learn about all different communication methods and how your church hears about and finds more information.)

In our case, we learned that 2% (8 people out of our 400 survey results) first found out about events in the bulletin. For the second question, we learned that 0.25% of attendees (this was 1 person when we got 400 survey results) used the bulletin to get more information between Monday – Saturday.

(Helpful information that we learned was that our website was the most likely “go to” place for more information from Monday – Saturday)


Make a decision:

With both the costs and the results of your survey, only now can you make a decision about the effectiveness of this communications piece.

In our case, we were spending $400/month to serve 8 people.

If you’re spending $100/month and 85% of your congregation uses the bulletin, then the decision is obvious. Your bulletin is a valuable communications piece.


Solve the “What About”s:

It’s important now to discuss the initial “What about”s.

If you’ve decided that maintaining the bulletin is ineffective, then how can you allocate some of those resources (time and money) to getting new visitors the information they need to get connected at your church (maybe this is still a print piece specifically for guests?) or communicate in other ways so everyone has the opportunity to find out what’s going on.

If you’ve decided that maintaining your bulletin is effective in your communications strategy, then how can you take the “What about”s and use your bulletin to solve those communication opportunities?


To sum it all up:

I don’t hate bulletins. I think some churches are served well by having a bulletin. I do, however, have a concern when we make decisions about our communications strategy on anecdotal concerns, and not based on factual information to discover what best serves our church and community.


Love this post? Hate this post? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts:



Advertising Branding Social Media

Don’t post about Daylight Saving on your Church’s Social Media

Hot Take: Don’t post Daylight Saving Images on your Church’s Social Media

I’m going to get angry emails about this one. I can feel it already. Even worse than this post about church music.

Let’s take a step back before we jump into opinions on this one, and consider some facts, then we’ll talk about the real issues of why churches want to communicate Daylight Saving and time changes.

(by the way, my concern has nothing to do with Daylight Saving – that’s just a clear symptom of something else… keep reading).

Fact: According to Pew Research, 77% of Americans own a smartphone (full article). This means that the device they most likely use to tell time automatically updates with the time change.

Fact: Another 22% own a cell phone, not designated as a smartphone, so we can’t say for sure what percentage of those automatically update, but some will.

95% of Americans own a cell phone.

Besides smartphone owners, there are many other avenues of hearing about time changes in the spring and fall:

  • Listening to the radio
  • Watching the news on TV
  • Reading the paper
  • Reminders from friends and family
  • Someone else who lives in your house owns a smartphone (if you’re not in the 77+%)
  • It’s printed on the calendar in your kitchen
  • You just remember because this happens every spring and fall

In order to factually justify that YOUR CHURCH’S SOCIAL MEDIA POST is the reason someone remembered the time change and showed up on time for church would be to find someone who meets all 5 of the following criteria:

  1. Doesn’t own a smartphone
  2. Doesn’t live with someone who owns a smartphone
  3. Attends your church
  4. Follows you on social media
  5. Happens to be in the 10% of the people who see that particular post (based on facebook / Instagrams algorithms)

My point: Churches (as with any online entity on Social Media) have limited attention given to us. We all get a piece of the puzzle in Facebook, Twitter or Instagram’s algorithm. Knowing that (statistically) your ‘social media audience’ is not relying on us to learn about or remember the time change, why waste that attention?

(if you’re not sure what to post instead, check out this article on 31 social media post ideas for your church!)

An exception could be if you’re posting something that pushes your church culture forward, or actually creates attention from people who don’t attend your church – a funny video about being able to sleep in and still come to church, or a values-centered discussion about how your church is using that extra hour to clean up garbage at a local park before service starts, for example. 

If that’s your exception, go for it, because you’re actually communicating your culture, with the time change as a topic. If you’re just posting a “don’t forget” graphic then just forget it.

This isn’t about Daylight Saving…

My concern is not about whether or not to communicate Daylight Saving. My concern is that churches, given the information above, think this is an efficient use of communication and attention, attribute time to making or finding graphics, writing content and wasting attention.

Why does this happen? Here are some possibilities.


1. This is how we’ve always done it.

Great! That’s worked before, but it’s no longer valid. We don’t put diapers on our child once they’re potty trained, put gas in a car that doesn’t run any longer or purchase a new fax machine for every new employee. Be willing to say “up until now we’ve been doing X, and from now on we’ll be doing Y” (hint: in 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 months or 5 years, you may be saying “up until now we’ve been doing Y, and from now on we’ll be doing Z”)


2. I don’t feel like being creative today

Let’s be honest. This is a simple way to check the box of “posted something on facebook today.” Maybe this is because you’ve got too much on your plate, you’re not feeling creative, you try and figure things out day-to-day without a long-term strategy, or you simply don’t care, other than checking the box that says “I posted something on facebook today.”

We’ve got to be more intentional. People need our church. They need Jesus. They need to learn about the hope we have. Getting lazy isn’t serving them or you. It’s time to build a strategy, delegate strategy building or have some conversations about whether or not this position is for you.


3. The concern that “if we don’t post this, someone won’t find out.”

If this reason resonated with you, then I’m sorry I haven’t been able to communicate how blatantly ineffective this is. It’s also possible, you’re looking for a reason not to change, and if that’s the case, despite facts, logic and the opportunity to use that attention towards helping your followers and community learn more about your church’s culture and pointing them to Jesus, it’s time for a gut check.


This doesn’t have to be a touchy subject, but for some reason it is. If you need to talk, let it out, or help me see something I’m missing:


If you’re not sure what to post instead, check out this article on 31 social media post ideas for your church!


Advertising Marketing

A bun with nothing on it

It was a warm Canadian summer day, just perfect for a family picnic in the park. It was so perfect that there was a light breeze, birds chirping and I’m pretty sure I saw a unicorn. We set up under the shade of a maple tree and pulled out our meal to eat. Our oldest, 8 at the time, wasn’t feeling well, and for lunch, he asked for a bun with nothing on it.

I gave him all kinds of options: ham, cheese, butter, mayo. His reply: A bun with nothing on it.

Just the way he said it was almost rhythmic. Now in an effort to cheer him up, I started making outlandish suggestions that turned into VeggieTales-esque silly song with Larry…

Tomato? Elephant? Fingernail? Just a bun with nothing on it.

Next, because he was starting to giggle, it became:

What would you like for your birthday? Just a bun with nothing on it.

What about Thanksgiving? Bun with nothing on it too.

What would you like for Easter? Just a bun with nothing on it.

What would you like for Christmas? (He jumped in) ‘Turkey! Just kidding. Bun with nothing on it.”

I’m pretty sure the entire park heard me roaring. It was such a great quip, totally out of the pattern, and then right back in. It was a moment of fatherhood pride that, even while feeling unwell, he was right on his game to make someone laugh.

Now, whenever someone says “Just kidding” inevitably one of my boys will tag on “bun with nothing on it.” I’ve found myself explaining “A bun with nothing on it” to teachers, neighbors, and my parents when my boys bring it up because one of the most awkward feelings is being on the outside of an inside joke.

This got me thinking about what it feels like when someone visits our church and we use acronyms they don’t have any context for.

The LBS (Ladies Bible Study) group will be meeting in the ORA (Outdoor recreation area) this Thursday.

Sometimes our acronyms aren’t even specific to our church, but to our denomination or church culture.

‘Usually, I read from the NIV but today I’ll be reading from the message.’

Not only is that person feeling the awkwardness of being on the outside of inside information, but we often assume everyone gets that acronym and we don’t take time to explain it.

So what can we do? Evaluate everything you’re going to communicate in a scenario where someone outside of your church culture may hear or read it: Social Media, in a service with guests, your email newsletter or your bulletin, and view it through the eyes of someone who has never heard of a bun with nothing on it.

Advertising Church Marketing Ideas Social Media

7 free ways to advertise your Christmas Concert

Christmas is an exciting time for churches.  It’s one of the easiest opportunities to bring a friend or family member to “Come hear little Johnny sing…”  Not only will a friend hear Johnny sing, but they’ll hear music they’re familiar with, be reminded of the Christmas story, and have an evening out.

Each church’s goals for their Christmas concert are different: Some use it as an opportunity to get people who haven’t been to their church in the building to see what it’s like to be there, some for showcasing talents that otherwise are unnoticed, and others use it as an opportunity to reach people with the Gospel.

(side note: Clearly defining your goal will help you and your team make decisions about the concert.)

So you’ve decided what your goal is, music is picked, program is set and now you need to find ways to get people in the door. On a personal level, I believe the best opportunity is word of mouth.  It’s relational and the most likely to succeed, plus if you can encourage your members to invite a friend at the easiest time of year for them to get a “Yes” then they’ll be encouraged to continue it the rest of the year. Most of these methods depend on word of mouth, and the others will support it in some way.

Here are some free ideas:


1) Create a Facebook Event:

Create a Facebook event with your concert poster image, invite your members and request that they invite their friends.  Leading up to the concert, post images and videos of rehearsals, warm ups, set design, lighting setup and whatever else is going into the concert.  People love seeing behind the scenes of how something is put together and this will get them excited about coming to the concert.  If they like or comment on a photo in the event, it will get shared on their wall (depending on privacy settings) and their friends will be able to join the event too.

A bonus feature to clicking the ‘going’ button on a Facebook event is that they’ll get a reminder when that event is coming up.


2) Design images that members can use to invite their friends:

This has worked really well for us before.  Make 4 or 5 email and social media friendly image (ie. smaller than 1000px by 1000px and less than 100K) that they can forward or post on their own social media channels. (You can download 5 pre-made templates that we used for FREE here)

The upside to creating multiple images is that people can choose the 1 or 2 that they think would best suit them.

Using the same background, have one that says ‘Would you join me for an evening of Christmas Music?” and another that says “It’s a Christmas Concert! What are you waiting for?!”


3) Send out 2 mass emails:

The First Email:

The first email goes to your members – this can be 4 or 5 weeks before the concert.  Include the images above, a link to the Facebook event and encourage them with some ideas on who to invite.

Not sure who it invite? Here are some ideas:

Your Boss / Manager / Employees

The last client you did business with

The most recent supplier you made a purchase from

The neighbor on either side of your house

Your Building Superintendent

A Coach or instructor from  music lessons/sports/the gym

That cousin you’ve been meaning to take for dinner for a while

You get the picture. This is more of a way to spur ideas than a checklist.

The Second Email:

The second email goes out 2 weeks before your concert.  This is an email list of people who have visited your church at least in the past 12 months.  This could simply say “You’re invited.” with the images/concert poster. This may just be the opportunity they need to find an excuse or an opening in their schedule to come back for another visit.


4) Run a “Who are you inviting?” campaign:

Using your already existing Facebook/twitter/youtube/Instagram/snapchat following for your church, post the images created to be sent out in the email and ask people to share them to invite others.  Literally, ask people “Who are you inviting?”  As they respond, it will create ideas for other people to share.  Put up posters through your building, in the parking lot, in the bulletin, during announcements, etc. to push this idea that everyone can invite someone.

Remind your members that statistically, 4 out of 5 people will say no, so if they ask 1 person who says no, they can keep asking others. Have everyone set a goal to ask 5 people, and a very high percentage of them will get at least one “Yes.” Just because someone said no, doesn’t mean they don’t like the church.  Maybe they have a family function, aren’t feeling well when you asked, or simply aren’t interested.  That’s fine – find the 4 others on your list to ask.

Take this a step further if you choose and create postcards that can be sent out.  Everyone brings 5 addresses of people they would like to invite.  You print the postcards, they put on the address and then you pay the postage to mail them.


5) Craigslist and online event calendars:

It takes only a few minutes, it’s free and you can often add some pictures and tell what your concert will be like.

6) Use your church property as signage:

Your church may have a sign already lit up front, others may not.  People drive by that property all the time and may or may not realize you’re there.  A sign will let them know you’re there, let them know about the Christmas concert and give a landmark for when they choose to come to the concert (ie. Coming to the concert? We’re the ones with the 4 storey Red Banner on Main Street.)

It doesn’t have to be a traditional sign on posts on the road.  It could be painting the windows of your building to advertise the event, covering over an existing sign, using trees or bushes to string a sign across (with a string of lights, of course) or one of those rental signs with an arrow and blinking lights.  Start with the “What if?” and work your way to what matches your concert goal and budget.

You could also give your people yard signs for their lawn, posters for their HOA clubhouse or common space in their work or to hang in their front windows for people to see.


7) Give your members a “What’s In It For Me?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “We did this big event and advertised it and our own members didn’t even come.” and the reason is, they didn’t hear about the “What’s in it for me” factor.

Make it clear why this is an event worth attending.  Let them know internally (ie. during a service) so they’ll see the benefit of coming themselves and bringing a member.  This will be dependant on your concert goal.

Some ideas: Pastor will be singing a solo, the kids will be singing 3 songs (This is great for opening the door to bringing relatives), we have our full choir singing, we’re doing multimedia and video with every song, renting fog machines and lights, live animals, entirely composed in house, live band, etc.

Maybe their “What’s in it for me?” is an opportunity to serve.  Someone may be a great singer, but not have the time in their schedule to be a part of the worship team, but they could sing for this concert.  Others may love outreach, and would be happy to serve hot chocolate and apple cider after the concert and talk with the new people while some may love to decorate and be willing to help with set design or decorating the building.

When your members see a reason to be excited to come themselves, they’ll talk about it and invite others too.


Have another idea not on this list? What has worked for you before? Share your idea in the comments below!



Advertising Branding Tools

5 things your church can learn from Pumpkin Spice

If you haven’t heard of the Pumpkin Spice craze, welcome out from under that rock. Pumpkin Spice was originally started by Starbucks in 2003. (Here’s the full story according to Wikipedia)

Personally, I don’t like the flavor of pumpkin. My wife’s favorite pie is pumpkin pie and if she makes one, I don’t touch it, but from a communications perspective, I think there are a few things to learn from…

What makes the Pumpkin Spice craze successful?


It’s seasonal

You can’t get it all the time, so when people can get it, they’ve missed it and they rush for it, then tell others it’s available. There’s something to be said for scarcity. Is there something on your church’s calendar that is too frequent? If you have a  new member’s class that 10 people attend every month, could it work better to have 30 people every 3 months? Would that give you some space to say “It’s coming up, but won’t be back for a few months.” or could it be more engaging with a larger crowd?


It’s a flavor so it’s portable to other food products

Pumpkin Spice is not just about a latte, but has now impacted all kinds of different food. Once realizing that PS could be more than a drink, Starbucks started making muffins, cookies, candy, and from there it took off. When Starbucks saw the success, they expanded with a “Keep something, change something” model.

The ‘Keep something’ was the Pumpkin Spice flavor, the “change something” was the actual food item – muffins, cookies, candy, etc.

Is there something that is successful at your church that you could expand with the “Keep Something, Change something” model? Could you take your Sunday service, or worship or message and turn it into a podcast? Could you take your Pastor’s notes and write blog posts?

Could you take a successful small group curriculum and turn it into a book, or create a video series for facebook, or use it for a facebook live curriculum for people who are unable to meet in someone’s home?

(Check out this post: 40 ways to repurpose your content for more ideas)


It’s a scent, so it can go way beyond food products

I can smell when my wife has had a PSL in my car. Product creators have taken a food product and found a way to turn that into other marketable products.

There’s car scent, deodorant, soap, and candles. The manufacturers saw the craze and decided to think outside the traditional method to market their product.

Don’t believe me? Click here for a “Pumpkin Spice” search on Amazon showing over 28,000 products…

What is successful within your church that could be adapted to connect with people outside your church? Maybe you have a date night where you offer free childcare at your church, but could you then invite people from the community, and not only provide child care, but provide dinner, popcorn and a movie for the adults. Let you church people know ahead of time and have them invite a friend.

What if you could take one of your Pastor’s series about families or marriage, keep the biblical principles, but remove the exact scripture references and publish a booklet for your people to share with friends?

Find something that works, and discover other ways to use that success.


Starbucks turned Pumpkin Spice into a lifestyle

Phrases like “I’m all about that Pumpkin Spice Life” have turned PSL from a drink people enjoy to imagining that it could be an actual ‘Lifestyle’ as if your life could revolve around a drink.

But what if you could communicate that serving in your church is part of your church’s lifestyle – an expectation, not a request or a great idea. Maybe that’s prayer groups or serving on a team or serving your community or giving to missions.

What could you do to create the lifestyle of what’s important to your church? How could you highlight families that have embraced that lifestyle and give new people a really easy on-ramp to that lifestyle?


Even people who don’t love it know about it

I have no inclination to eat, drink, smell or wear a pumpkin spice anything, but it’s everywhere, so I don’t have to love it to know it exists. Why does that happen? Because there are people all around me talking about how much they love their pumpkin spice.

How can you create a way for people who love your church to talk about it? Is it a business card invitation they can hand out, a bumper sticker, a t-shirt or posting something on facebook every week that they can use to share and invite friends to church?

Side note: Pumpkin Spice Jello… Two wrongs don’t make a right.



What have you implemented from the ideas, and which are you going to work on next? Comment below so we can learn from what’s working for you!





How to sell a parachute to a penguin

Let’s say you’re going to sell a parachute to a penguin (stay with me on this) and all you know is that a penguin is a bird. That is 100% fact. You strike up the conversation like you’re talking to a sparrow or flamingo or seagull; after all, you’re talking to a bird.

You start by asking how his morning flight was or when his favorite time to catch a worm is, or how long his wife incubates on the eggs before they’re hatched. The penguin has a couple of options. He can ignore you, correct you politely, tell you bluntly what his life is like or go along with you anyway, but despite his choice of response, he’s not in a position to embrace the parachute you’re trying to sell.

Why? Because you didn’t take the time to learn about the penguin, you brought to the conversation your understanding of birds.

If you had learned about your audience, you would know that, even though penguins are birds, they don’t fly, they spend 75% of their hunting time under water and the male holds the egg on his feet to hatch while the female scavenges and brings back food.

This isn’t to say you couldn’t find an opportunity to a penguin that needs a parachute in case he fell from the top of an iceberg or needed to jump off the end of a cliff to escape a hungry seal. After all, penguins can’t fly. But until that penguin knows you understand him, he’s not interested in what you have to sell. He’ll assume you don’t understand his needs and can’t then provide a solution. Even with facts in hand (A penguin is a bird. It’s a fact) don’t assume you already know.

The same thing happens when we try to communicate to an audience we don’t understand. Whether through advertising, creating a guest experience, speaking to a crowd or building a friendship, fundamentally, you have to understand the penguin in order to sell him the parachute.

The best way to get to know him? Ask.




Advertising Marketing

4 ways to create audience-focused advertising

Advertising is an important part of what we do and the goal is to inspire a response. Something like “That’s for me” or “I hadn’t thought of it that way” or “I can be part of that”.

Advertising has 2 parts:

Tell people what to expect

Whether you’re promoting a trunk-or-treat Halloween event, Christmas concert, a new series topic, small groups or a new members class, advertising is an essential first step, and gives people a window into what to expect from your event. When your event happens, if the event is as good or better than they expected, then you’re starting to build trust. This is true for internal promotions (like your bulletin or announcements) and external promotions (on Social Media, road signs, billboards or mailers) and every step of the way is an opportunity to strengthen trust. Tell them what to expect and come through on it.


Inspire a response

Telling people what to expect is about the WHAT, and inspiring a response is about the WHY. Why would someone get off their couch on a Tuesday night and come to this event? Why would someone stay late after church or spend $25 to come to this event? If you can nail the WHY, then the WHAT just falls into place.

Here’s an example: Your favorite band is coming to town on Saturday night. It’s on your bucket list to see them and your best friend wants to take you and buy your tickets. Why do you want to go to the concert? Because your favorite bucket-list band is coming to town and you have tickets.

Does it matter if the show starts at 7 or 7:30? Does it matter if the ticket was $20 or $25? Does it matter who is opening for them? These are all the ‘WHAT’ details and at some point they matter, but they’re not the WHY behind making the decision for you.

It’s important to realize that, in this example, your WHY may not be someone else’s WHY. Maybe their “WHY” is their boyfriend is in the opening band, or their kids want to go and they want to spend time together or they have a goal of seeing a live band every month this year, and this happens to be the closest concert.


Discovering what motivates your audience will help you craft your “Why” message in your advertising. Here are 5 ways to discover your audience’s “why”.


1. Imagine you are your audience

If YOU are the target audience, what would inspire you to go? What incentive would you need? Would you want to go alone or take someone with you? Based solely on your personality, what would motivate you to arrive? Now, take those answers, and figure out how your audience is different than you. Are they in a different income bracket, or have larger families, or work later than you or newer to your church? Tweak your perspective based on those differences and figure out WHY they would want to attend.


2. Ask someone who has attended before

If this is a new members class, then have a survey at the beginning of the class asking how they first heard about your church, what made them want to come and why they’ve chosen to come to your new members class. That information is valuable in discovering their WHY, and using that as a way of advertising the class next time.

For instance, if they say they came to your new members class because they want to serve on your kids team and being a member is a pre-requisite, then your advertisement next time could be ‘If you’d like to get involved in serving on a team at church, come to our membership class to learn more.’

You could also do a raffle at your outreach event asking 3 questions and collecting contact info. This will help you know who came any why so you can prepare for next year’s event.


3. Ask someone who has not attended

This is a typical conversation for me: “I know you’ve been coming for a few months, and it’s great to see you every Sunday. Have you been to our membership class? I look after our communications here, and it would be helpful for me to get your perspective about what you think about the class.”  Answers vary from work schedule (they work every Sunday and classes are on Sunday afternoons) or didn’t realize that was a way to get to serve on a team.

At one point, we were trying to get everyone to that class within the first 3 months they started attending, so in our announcements I was saying “If you’ve started coming to Life Church in the last 90 days, we’d like to invite you to Connect At Life…”. The feedback that we received is there were people who had been coming for a 6 months or a year and how thought they’d missed the window to attend, so by focussing on one audience (people who had just started attending) I was eliminating another (people who had been around for more than 90 days).

More causally “I’ll see you Tuesday at Trunk or Treat!” and hopefully they’ll confirm, or let you know they won’t be there, and maybe offer a why.


4. Explore who else is reaching your audience well

In a world of Social Media advertising, YouTube and crazy amounts of big data, it’s relatively easy to track down someone who is already reaching your audience and pick apart their strategy to expose the WHY.

Need to advertise a youth event? Who are your youth following and can you figure out why they resonate?

Need to reach single moms? Look around your church to see who has their attention.

Duplicating or dissecting what’s working for someone else can help get you a step closer to resonating with that audience.


Remember, the WHY matters more than the WHAT. Always ask yourself “Why would someone attend this event?” and target your advertising to them. What have you found to work well in your church’s advertising? Leave a comment!



Advertising Church Marketing Ideas Marketing Podcast Social Media Website

Podcast: How do we use our church advertising to attract a younger demographic?

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This week’s Church Marketing tool:


Faith Engine offers an entire library of content that has been proven to create engagement across multiple churches Social Media channels, in various locations and reaching many different demographics.  What sets Faith Engine apart, is that it is also a scheduling tool.  You can choose your content (like images, quotes or scriptures) then choose your social media channel (like Facebook or twitter) and let the scheduler know what day and time to post.

You’ll also notice that Faith Engine offers date-specific recommendations like famous quotes on those speaker’s birthdays, holidays, and calendar dates (like the first day or Spring or St. Patrick’s day).

Usually, Faith Engine is available to try for 7 days, but they are giving a special offer to our Church Marketing Ideas family with a complimentary 14 day trial.  Try it out for free here!


Suzette asked a question in our blog comments about our recommendation to use real pictures of your church in your advertising to properly represent your church. If you use pictures of young families, but your church doesn’t represent that, then you will have broken trust with anyone thinking they’re coming to meet young families.

But the question then is, how can you attract new young families, if your advertising is based on your current church demographic?

I would recommend advertising about who you are as a church – what are your convictions, your desires and your current initiatives to impact your community? These common causes will transcend demographics.  People will be attracted to a common cause.

Then, create and advertise events specifically targeted to young families: A fair in the parking lot, a costume party alternative to Halloween, a preschool reading club or a stay-at-home Mom’s group for instance.  In each case, give some information about the initiatives your church is involved in, and how someone attending this event can participate in the next.

Take pictures during your event, and as more people come to be connected with future events and participate at your church, include those pictures in your next event or website advertising.  Soon, your advertising will match the demographic at your church as you work towards generation diversity.


Have a church communications question you’d like answered? Ask it here.  We’ll reply to all of them and pick a few for our podcast!