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Why Does Church Marketing HAVE to Suck?

Here’s what I know: Everybody – to some degree – is a marketer. Don’t believe me? Think about this… Whether it is through spreading the word about a product, a service or an event, or just sharing an opinion, everybody at some point has “promoted” something. Everybody has played the role of the marketer whether it was intentional or not. What I also know is that most of us are clueless of the power and influence we could have if we used marketing correctly.

However, it is common to see marketing executed incorrectly. One specific example of marketing-gone-wrong can be seen within the institution of the Church. For decades, the church has used marketing intentionally to promote ideas and events, as well as to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything from billboards, freestanding signs, brochures, websites, television commercials, radio ads, word of mouth, etc. have all been used to some degree by most churches in America.

I’m sure that most of us would like to think that avoiding topics like marketing, branding, and advertising would make us in someway holier than those who are more intentional about these topics. However, avoiding them can be severely damaging to any church.

Here’s my perspective: If what I’m promoting is something that I truly believe in, then my marketing and creative strategy should match that, if not exceed it.

Let me be a little more direct: If the message of Jesus Christ is so important, then why is it continually marketed and spread incorrectly? Why does the church seem to lag behind with the assumption that as long as it’s Jesus, it will be accepted? Why does church marketing HAVE to suck?

I’ve always found it rather interesting to see corporations invest millions into marketing and advertising. For example, it’s common to find companies like Apple and Starbucks – my two favorites – go the extra mile to promote their brand. Why? Because – to some degree – they really believe in their product and service. It’s not just for the sake of increasing sales. There is some sort of underlining belief that they have something unique to offer and that the world needs to see it, touch it, hear about it, and own it.

Here’s my challenge to the Church: Do you REALLY believe in what you have to offer your communities; your cities; your state; the world? Do you believe that the world needs to hear about it, experience it, and own it? Is it worth the time, creativity, and money to promote and spread the Gospel in excellence? I would think so. Jesus presented the largest marketing campaign of all time when He commissioned His disciples to take the Gospel to the world. How will you take this Gospel to your world?

For more insight on this topic, check out my friends at ChurchMarketingSucks.Com

3 Comments

  • June 21, 2008Reply

    Dave Ingland

    Hey Antwon, I believe there are several factors as to why church marketing isn't very good:

    1. Lack of knowledge: Often times there are people without the necessary knowledge or passion for marketing that are the ones given the responsibility to handle the marketing. For many, being able to do some simple template websites represents some as marketing experts.

    2. Lack of budget: I don't find a lot of churches that use their marketing budgets creatively. It's pretty standard fare for most and people in general have been conditioned to recognize postcards from the church and just toss them in the garbage.

    3. Lack of priority: Marketing is always something that is stressed when trying to get the word out, but it is almost done as an afterthought because people don't really realize the true power of marketing when it's done correctly.

    4. Lack of vision: Churches don't realize how important branding is! If one looks at logos like those from Starbucks or Coke it is easy to see how unimpressive they really are, yet those brands make people comfortable and will cause people to be willing to pay more for them because they are trusted. Branding helps to establish a church's identity in the community and will draw people in that connected by the brand even though they don't even realize it is brand. Branding has become so commmon-place by successful enterprises, yet people don't even realize they have been drawn in by the branding experience. Branding really isn't just a logo, but it's an entire experience. Many, many people fail to get that. They'll pay a generic logo designer $299 online to make a logo, yet not understand how to develop a brand. I'd be surprised how many people would actually recognize the logo of Willow Creek, Saddleback (or any of their Purpose Driven entities), Grainger, or Lakewood churches, yet these are clearly churches that utilize branding to create a particular experience and bring recognition to their vision.

    5. Lack of courage: I think a lot of people feel that they are compromising the church when they try to create a brand. Therefore, doing anything that even remotely has an appearance of coming from the corporate world scares people.

    Of course, as I listed in item 4 above, there are churches that are willing to use branding to honor the Lord and to connect with those away from Christ. Many churches that are considered cutting edge such as NewSpring Church or Elevation Church may become the standard if others come to understand the importance of marketing and branding as an effective tool to reach those outside of the church today.

  • December 16, 2009Reply

    Tweets that mention Why Does Church Marketing HAVE to Suck? « AntwonDavisDotCom -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Antwon Davis, Matt Clinger. Matt Clinger said: Why Does Church Marketing HAVE to Suck? http://bit.ly/7fvVgI (via @AntwonDavis) >> because they don't pay big bucks like the world.... [...]

  • December 17, 2009Reply

    Daniel

    I think it may reveal more about our hearts than anything else. As I learned over and over again in my marketing classes, the greatest form of advertising is word of mouth. If there's any business/institution/whatever that should be getting crazy word of mouth it should be the church. As you said, 'If the message of Jesus Christ is so important, then why is it continually marketed and spread incorrectly?'

    What that tells me is that, if it's continually marketed and spread incorrectly, then maybe our view of Jesus is incorrect as well...

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