Are you experiencing a decline in church attendance? You’re not alone. Recent statistics indicate a 4-point decrease in near-weekly attendance, from 42% to 38%, between 2008 and 2017. However, a smaller congregation is not inevitable. With an effective church marketing plan, you can get more people in the pews during every service.
To start, take a closer look at why people attend church and the reasons behind service skipping. Identify how your ministry can meet their needs and address their objections. This is essential information for your marketing plan. Implement the following proven strategies using this information to connect with individuals seeking a place of worship to call their own.
1. Develop Your Church’s Brand
Branding has evolved beyond logos, graphics, and catchphrases; it encompasses much more. Your brand serves as an identity, setting your ministry apart from others, and communicating your beliefs, values, and interactions with the world.
To establish your brand identity, involve your church leaders in discussions about the values you represent and the audience you aim to engage. Gather feedback from congregants to understand how they perceive your brand. For example, distributing surveys can be a great source of information.
Once your church has a clear brand, express it through design elements like a logo, images, and storytelling. Also, integrate it into your daily practices. If appropriate, consider adding a slogan that aligns naturally with your brand.
For example, if your branding revolves around community outreach, your slogan could be “Raising our community up through good deeds and God’s word.” A logo featuring people arm-in-arm in front of a townscape reinforces this message. Showcase photos of your community outreach projects on your website and in marketing materials to strengthen your brand’s meaning.
Ensure authenticity in your church marketing plan, reflecting the true essence of your ministry, congregation, and community.
2. Establish a Branding Presence
Spread your branding both online and offline. Incorporate it into your website by prominently featuring your logo on all web pages. If applicable, include your slogan as well. Share your values and branding story on the “About Us” page, and gradually add photos and videos showcasing how your church fulfills its branding efforts and goals.
At your ministry, display your branding through signage and banners. Branded outdoor canopies or awnings serve as effective marketing tools, providing year-round presence and enhancing curb appeal. Emboss them with your logo and/or slogan to reinforce brand memorability.
Carry your logo, slogan, and branding graphics and colors onto your printed materials, including:
- Church signs
- Service programs
- Business cards
- Church letterhead
- Pledge cards
- Door hangers
- Bible Study guides/questionnaires
Wherever your church is present, your branding should be there as well.
3. Utilize Social Media
Social media marketing is a cost-effective approach that can meet multiple objectives, making it an invaluable tool for businesses and organizations of all sizes. Here are some key reasons why incorporating social media marketing into your strategy can lead to significant benefits:
- Enhance Branding: Social media marketing reinforces your branding efforts. That is to say, it allows you to consistently showcase your church’s identity and values across various platforms.
- Strengthen Congregational Relationships: By actively engaging with your current congregants on social media, you can strengthen your church’s relationship with them, fostering a sense of community and connection.
- Attract New Parishioners: Social media provides an excellent platform to reach and attract new parishioners, allowing you to expand your ministry’s reach and grow your community.
- Boost SEO Strategies: Social media presence contributes to improved search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, increasing your church’s online visibility and ranking in search results.
Harness the power of social media platforms to connect with a wider audience. Share uplifting messages, Bible verses, blogs, and community events. Embrace various media formats like images, videos, and live streaming for a dynamic church marketing plan.
Social media provides a potent tool to teach, interact, and grow your church community. Therefore, you should be taking full advantage of it.
4. Don’t Toss Out Traditional Marketing
Offline marketing, though considered old-school, continues to be an effective strategy to reach and engage with a diverse audience. Here are some time-tested suggestions to bolster your offline marketing efforts and complement your digital initiatives:
- Buy ad time from local radio and TV stations
- Post ads in local newspapers and community magazines
- Invest in promotional items such as screen-printed shirts, caps, notebooks, pencils, pens, lanyards, mugs, and water bottles
- Distribute windshield flyers and door hangers
- Mail out postcards
- Hire billboard space
Before investing in print ads and media ad space, it’s crucial to identify your target audience. Avoid marketing to everyone and recognize that religion and spirituality are deeply personal experiences. Conduct thorough research and tailor your traditional advertising efforts to those who are most likely to resonate with your church’s values, messages, and style.
While the statistics show that church attendance is dropping, it’s not always a wide net that will work. On occasion, a targeted focus is best.
5. Communicate With Email Newletters
According to a recent Pew Research survey, 81% of Americans attend church to grow closer to God, followed by teaching their children about faith, self-improvement, and seeking comfort during difficult times.
To engage those who attend sporadically, consider using a newsletter to reinforce the lessons, scriptures, and sense of communal support offered during church services. Include sermon transcripts and notes to provide deeper insights, while highlighting Sunday School classes and kids’ activities to encourage parents to bring their children.
Uplifting quotes and messages reminding them of God’s grace during challenging times can strengthen their sense of purpose in church, ultimately boosting attendance rates and encouraging word-of-mouth referrals.
6. Focus on Community Outreach
Churches hold significant importance in their communities, embodying God’s words and deeds while creating positive impacts in their towns. Through their actions, they reinforce goodness and deliver a powerful message to all, touching the lives of community members they might not reach otherwise. If your ministry seeks to increase its involvement in the city, consider the following suggestions as powerful tools to enhance your church marketing plan.
Advocating for the Less Fortunate
- Aid the homeless
- Donate clothing and supplies to women’s shelters
- Visit assisted living residents
- Set up a food bank
- Coordinate a community clean-up event
- Volunteer at a local food kitchen
- Participate in building homes with Habitat for Humanity
- Host educational seminars
- Advocate for veterans’ issues
- Mobilize congregation members to volunteer professional services to the underprivileged, such as tax help, carpentry, plumbing, financial counseling, salon services, and auto work
- Support youth sports teams
- Assist the local Humane Society or Pet Rescue
- Engage with recreation centers
- Patronize local bookshops
- Organize kids’ events
- Host cookouts
- Offer free car washes
- Host an Easter Egg Hunt
Demonstrate God’s all-inclusive love through action, not just scripture, to secular individuals and non-church members. Organize a bridge event that showcases your church’s welcoming and uplifting spirit for everyone. For example, here are some ideas for such events:
- School supplies giveaway
- Parenting classes
- Block party
- Free community swim day
- Holiday events
- Recycling drive
- Wellness programs
Hold these events at venues off church grounds and avoid religious themes to ensure a warm and open environment for all attendees.
7. Spotlight Every Event
Engaging in ministry activities and community outreach is commendable, but it can also bolster your church marketing endeavors if promoted effectively. Involve your congregation by organizing contests or raffles to encourage them to invite friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors to events.
Utilize traditional marketing methods, such as community paper ads and radio announcements. Display banners and signage to increase visibility. Keep your congregation informed through newsletters and website updates, and utilize social media to share event details and links to your website.
8. Add Personal Touches to Your Church Marketing Plan
Above all, creating a welcoming experience is crucial to building a larger congregation. Therefore, engage visitors by offering a warm greeting and sign-in cards for contact information. Similarly, provide small gifts like promotional items, books, or gift cards. Offer informational brochures and snacks for fellowship. Follow up promptly with a thank-you card and email, seeking feedback and inviting them to future events.
A Few Tips
- Utilize welcoming and directional signage to guide visitors to your church and parking areas.
- Keep sign-in cards simple, requesting essential details like name, mailing address, phone number, and email.
- Include your website address in follow-up correspondence for easy access to more information about your ministry.
9. Utilize Local SEO Strategies
The Pew Research study we discussed earlier revealed that nearly a quarter of respondents hadn’t found a ministry they like, leading to a potential opportunity for your church. Boost the chances of people finding your ministry by focusing on Local SEO.
Ensure your church is listed on relevant online directories such as Google, Facebook, Bing, and Yellow Pages. Claim your Google My Business Listing and provide important information like location, contact details, and operating hours.
Incorporate your branding with logos and pictures. Encourage congregants to leave reviews to maximize the impact of this vital marketing tool, but make sure you let them be honest in those reviews.
10. Include Digital Tools in Your Church Marketing Plan
Digital bulletin boards, mobile apps, podcasts, and mobile-optimized websites are powerful tools to enhance your church marketing efforts. The increasing use of smartphones in the U.S., with currently 248.68 million users and expected growth to 270.66 million users by 2022, highlights the need for a mobile-friendly website. Developing a ministry app will further facilitate interaction with your organization and encourage more people to participate in events.
Start Building Your Church Marketing Plan Now
Church attendance and tithing are both declining trends. Only about 17% of Americans claim to tithe, and among regular attendees, only 3% to 5% donate through tithing. As your organization relies on these donations for essential functions, embracing digital tools and software can simplify the donation process, offer more options, and potentially increase charitable receipts.
Therefore, you’ll need to utilize a mix of online and in-person strategies that resonate with different generations. Building a strong brand will effectively communicate your ministry’s values and mission to the community. Digital tools, like our DonorWerx digital donation software, can be valuable resources to achieve these goals and enhance your ministry’s impact and success.
Click here to learn more about how DonorWerx can be a powerful giving strategy for your church’s marketing plan.