Test Run Your Church Planting Marketing Plan
Marketing is expensive and in many cases is less effective today than it was a decade ago. I’d argue its just as effective, but the target audience of most church marketing is shrinking. The low hanging fruit that could easily be captured with marketing has been picked. Alan Hirsch says that only 40% of the population can be reached with traditional church models. That’s easy for me to say that the same applies to traditional church marketing. But marketing still works. Have you seen fewer commercials on tv? It was just reported by Appleinsider that Apple spends a million a month on Google Ads and partner AT&T spent 8.08 million on Google Ads around the launch of the iPhone 4. Churches need to market. It’s the language of the culture and best way to mass communicate the good news to a community.
Here’s the problem. Church plants have a limited amount of funds and those funds seem to be shrinking with the economy. So the dollars you do spend on marketing must be effective. One big mistake I see church planters make is that they don’t test run marketing with their target audience. You should test frequently. For example, when you determine the church’s name you should test it out. Poll some people and get their opinion. Make sure the name connects. Same thing with values, mottos, mission statement, etc. You aren’t testing the meaning of those statements, but just the way you communicate it. Does it connect? Does it resonate with people. The only way to know is to test it.
Let’s apply this to mass marketing. Many church planters utilize direct mail. For those that do, it is one of the biggest expenses of the launch. But typically what happens is that church planters take a guess at what cards will connect from a catalogue of templates and then drop tens of thousands of dollars on a series of cards and hope it works. There’s a better way. In order to test your message, you are going to need to plan at least an extra month. Here’s how it can work.
- Set a deadline for the design and core message of your cards a month earlier than is needed by the marketing company.
- For each design and message you are considering, set up a landing page (simple one page design) on your website. Use the graphic from the design and the text you are considering. Do not set it up so that you can reach this page from through the site navigation. Add a contact form to the page for those who are interested to sign up for more information.
- Set up a Facebook ad for each card you are considering, linked back to the corresponding landing page on the website. With Facebook ads you can filter who sees the ad. Use Facebook’s filtering tools to show the ad only to your target audience. Let the ads run for about a week.
- At the end of the ad campaign, see which ads were clicked on the most. This will tell you which ads are resonating.
It’s good to get face to face with people and get their opinions as well. Show them to your non-churched friends and other business owners you have connected with to get their opinions as well. Test running your marketing ideas will save you money and lead to a higher response rate.