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5 Insights Into Why Pastors Need a Marketing Degree

by Jon Vaughan


This week, I worked on a project that had me researching how well churches do marketing.  I looked at websites, drove around my community, and studied outside signage of churches.

During this process, I had five insights that led me to the realization that pastors really should get marketing degrees…

1. Insider language. Insight #1: Push for clarity instead of cuteness.  I drove by a marquee in front of a church that said “Easter eggs are all eaten but it is still Easter season.”  What?  Now, I know what they were intending to mean, but for the thousands of cars driving by every day, they were missing a great opportunity.  Few people will change their pattern of behavior over a very confusing marketing message.  Insider language never works…except for those inside.

2. Understand what you are asking people to do. Insight #2: Give a call to action.  In marketing we call this a CTA.  What do you want them to do?  Tell me.  I saw banners and messages that left me confused as to what to do.  Be clear; if you want them to come on Sunday at 10am, tell them.  If you want them to sign up by April 30, tell them there is a deadline.

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3. Finish what you started. Insight #3: Keep your website updated.

A majority of the church websites I visited were still promoting their Easter service (a month after Easter), and some still had events from last year.  In a world where 60% of people do research online before you ever see them, this type of wrong and outdated information doesn’t give you a chance.

4. Learn the basics. Insight #4: Jesus was a great marketer.

You might have the greatest church in the world, with the greatest members, the most moving worship, AND the most dynamic sermons.  If people don’t know it, they won’t appreciate it.  Get your folks out into the community.  Hold a class on how to invite someone to church.  Go through the steps.  Have them practice.  Study how Jesus engaged with people, and help your folks do that.

5. Know your brand. Insight #5: Realize that you have a brand.

Yes, you have a brand just like Nike and Apple.  Example:  Right now, think about K-Mart and the first three words that come to mind.  Having a hard time? Now think of Target…do you get a clearer image in your mind?  That is a brand.  You have a brand even if you don’t think you do.  The church that had the clever marquee has a brand.  They created an image in my mind in just 3 seconds.  Is that really what they want people to think?

Start your marketing training by reading Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore.  Then focus on the basics.  You’ll find that good marketing really lines up with how Jesus spread his message of love and forgiveness.  Imagine if the church marquee said “Love and Forgiveness available here.  Come on Sunday at 10am to learn more.”  Much more compelling!

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