Church marketing is important to keep your congregation growing and vibrant. Here are 9 ways you can keep first-time guests and long-time members coming back for more:
1. Give them a great first impression.
It’s human nature – the more familiar we are with something, the less we seem to notice little imperfections. But your first-time visitors will notice everything. How does your church appear to them? Is everything in good repair? Your landscaping trimmed up? Your sign fresh and welcoming? Your interior clean and fresh-smelling? A church that looks and feels warm and inviting will impress first-time visitors.
2. Give them a personal welcome.
Attending a new church can be intimidating. People don’t know anyone or exactly what to expect. Well-trained volunteers can help visitors feel welcome and help them connect right away with a few members of your congregation. This type of person-to-person church marketing is equally important to welcome back members who attend infrequently.
3. Give them a gift.
A gift shows visitors you expected them and prepared in advance to welcome them. It gives them something to take home to remember their experience with you and remind them to come back. You can give the same types of goodies as businesses give – branded pens, coffee cups, bags of chocolates, etc. Or you can give something that has more meaning – not just a thank-you but a chance to spread your message, with a CD of a particularly important sermon, a reading of the Christmas story, etc.
4. Give them more information.
You’ve accomplished that first conversion – your church postcards have inspired someone to visit in person. Encourage them take the next step by letting them know all the additional ways they can participate with your congregation – Bible study groups for adults, children’s programs, your various ministries or special projects. Tell them in person, give them a hand-out that lists the opportunities and encourage them to visit your website for more details.
5. Follow up.
You can’t do this unless you know how to contact your visitor. So don’t just hand them your gift, ask for their email address in return so you can keep them apprised of new activities they might be interested in. And use the first email to thank them for visiting and invite them to return.
When was the last time you thanked your regular attendees for their membership?
Going out of your way to welcome visitors into your fold is important to grow your congregation. But as any business owner can tell you, customer retention is even more important than recruiting new people. Your church will naturally experience some attrition, when people move away and so on, but you don’t want to lose members because they feel disenfranchised or that you’re indifferent.
6. Create a special church marketing campaign aimed at building and reinforcing member loyalty.
Conduct an email survey asking input on new programming ideas or possible changes to your worship schedule or services. Everyone loves to be asked their opinion, and they will be doubly impressed when they see you act on their ideas.
7. Stay in touch.
Your bulletin is your primary communication with members – your internal church marketing. But many of your members would rather receive that information via email than in print. Email is virtually no-cost, and studies show members are more likely to respond to an email.
8. Go viral.
Use Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about your church, your mission and your congregation. Post photos of members working on a community project or spiffing up the church grounds. Link to a podcast or video or your pastor’s seasonal message. Tweet invitations and reminders about special events.
9. Advertise special holiday activities.
Church postcards will build community awareness and attendance, and seeing your postcard in the mail will boost pride and participation among your regular membership, too.