When churches work hard and try new things to get the word out, I love it! But sometimes things don’t pan out the way pastors think. Many times that’s simply because the approach could have been different.
This is not an indictment on churches. We love the church! If you’ve found your church making any of these mistakes, the key is to learn from them and follow the appropriate approach the next time around.
With that said, here are…
12 Marketing Mistakes Churches Make
1.They fail to combine the spiritual and the practical.
For many churches, the spiritual and practical are separate, but they need to be woven together. It’s not an issue of one or the other. Churches need to pray, they need to fast, but they also need to plan. And when it comes to marketing, prayer should be the first thing that happens when making decisions.
2. They approach marketing like a megaphone and not like a conversation.
Marketing is all about relationships, and yet so many churches are to focused on “Us” and not on the conversation.
3. They begin with the wrong end in mind.
Many churches goal is the big event (e.g. Christmas & Easter). And what happens is they trap themselves into thinking each event needs to always be bigger and better. But the goal shouldn’t be the event. The goal should be to get people discipled, and that means you have to have a strategy to get them to come back the following week (not just to come to the event).
4. They miss out on the opportunities.
There are defining moments in every ministry… windows of opportunity. And every church has the choice to seize the opportunity or miss it. Often times budgets can prevent capitalizing on opportunities. So the key is to work to developing budget margin so that you can act when the opportunities arise.
5. They fail to have a strategy and just hope something works.
Every church has has activities, but most churches don’t have a system. They just hope people will visit their church, hope people will come back for a return visit, hope people will get involved, but not a comprehensive process to get people connected. Also, they don’t measure to see what is really working for them. Consequently, they make guesses rather than educated decisions.
6. They define marketing the wrong way
Marketing is communicating who you are to people where they are. Too many churches don’t think about it this way or they just think it’s nonspiritual because marketing is what you do in business. Certainly marketing is NOT a substitute for the gospel. Rather, marketing is simply tools to share the gospel.
7. They fail to make this a seat at the leadership table.
Many times pastors or key leaders make decisions and then go tell the person in charge of communications about the plan. Churches need to include the person who oversees marketing, communications, social media, etc. at the table so they help process the best approach from a communications standpoint.
8. They fail to clarify who they are, what God has uniquely called them to do, and who He uniquely equipped them to reach.
“Why reinvent the wheel?” That’s a mindset that is very common in church culture. And while that’s good when it works for your church, many churches act like or copy another church just because they’re looking for the latest or greatest tactics. Some fail to understand the principles (the why) behind the tactics and find that what works for one church may not work for another. Or sometimes by copying, they represent themselves in a way that’s different than who they really are.
9. They fail to focus on simple next steps.
Creating one simple action step for people is huge. Many churches have too much going on and consequently give people a variety of action steps. Unintentionally they actually make it more complicated and find they have less participation. With one simple, clear next step churches will find they have greater participation from the members of their church.
10. They don’t take full advantage of the creative arts.
One of the biggest ways churches can help utilize creative arts is through photography and video. Surprisingly, video and photography can help you reach people. However, many churches tend to do it wrong. They lead with a photo of their building, or the dark sanctuary bright lights, instead of faces of their people.
11. They assume people care.
The fact is, most people don’t care. They have A LOT going on, and weekend services is only a part of everything they do in a given week. We want them to care, and spiritually-speaking we hope they do, but to just assume they do is a mistake. Churches often talk in their own language and they have ministries that are geared toward insiders. Everything is about the church, its events and programs. But really it needs to be about the people.
12. They’ve gotten comfortable.
Change is difficult. Forward progress takes a lot of energy, and it can be a real temptation to just get comfortable. Sometimes pastors will say, “We’re just going to pray,” to which I reply, sometimes the answer to your prayer looks like a lot of hard work.
Making mistakes in your promotion and marketing WILL happen. We all do it. But the key is to learn and work to continually improve. These 12 mistakes are common among many churches, but we believe the best is yet to come for you and your ministry. And by modifying your approach in some of these areas, you will see a bigger impact on those in your church and community!
(NOTE: Want to see how well your church is marketing itself? Take our 3-minute Church Marketing Strength Assessment and discover your untapped potential for more reach in your community.)