The Church Marketing Merry-go-round

Churches are easy prey for the marketing merry-go-round. I’m old enough now, but not too old mind you, to have seen a number of ideas come and go. I’m often amazed at how “new” ideas are not so new, just dressed up a little differently. None the less it’s an honest attempt at creativity fueled by a desire to reach others with a life change message.

I was thinking earlier this week about how much marketing directs our efforts. You want to use the right colors, fonts, pictures, schemes, and graphics. We put a lot of emphasis in the look. To be brutally honest, we’re probably guilty of putting more emphasis on the look rather than the substance at time. You need to watch this short two-minute monologue about Subway’s marketing strategy change.

While Subway used a clever artwork piece, it was the personal campaign that made the greatest impact on customers. Slick artwork didn’t really bring people in their stores; it was an identifiable character that shared a story about their experience with Subway. This got me to thinking again. Slick artwork isn’t a substitute for the story. While the look is good, we need to emphasize the story. Here’s how this applies to church. Why should someone go to church? Why should someone surrender that unseemly habit to the Lord? Why should someone give his or her life to Christ? I don’t think it’s the slick slogan that communicates the message, but it’s the personalized story told by others that makes the difference. All of a sudden the “product” and its results become real. You can’t dispute Jared’s results; you can’t dispute a disciple’s testimony either.

Maybe part of the answer to a church marketing strategy isn’t in the gimmick, but in the story of real life change. Anyone can offer a slick product, not everyone can offer life change. Just a thought.