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Making the most of your advertising dollars

By Tricia Brown

According to the Pew Research Center, about 37% of people say they attend church weekly. In reality many less actually do. Advertising can help get more people to come to your church on Sundays. But how do you advertise a church?

Advertisements are meant to help sell a product or a service. They do so by:

  1. Helping us get to know the product (informing)
  2. Showing us how good or effective the product is (persuading)
  3. Helping us to remember the product (reminding)

While you don’t necessarily want to employ the same tactics as a fast-food restaurant, sports shoe manufacturer or a cola company, there is a lot to be learned from successful commercial advertising campaigns. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you effectively advertise your church.

Know your audience

Successful advertising is targeted advertising. If you haven’t already done so, you must get to know the community around you -- especially those who are unchurched. Consider the following demographics of the people around your church:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Income level
  • Family status
  • Ethnicities
  • Religious backgrounds

In addition, ask yourself two very important questions.

  1. What are the people in my community doing instead of going to church on Sunday?
  2. What do the people in my community value the most?

The objective is to make your advertisements resonate with the people you are trying to attract. The better you know your community, the better you can communicate with those who will be reading your ads.

Use emotion

Successful advertisements elicit emotional responses. This is one of the advertising secrets every church needs to know. Building an emotional brand is how you, the advertiser, connect with and inspire positive feelings in your audience, in this case the unchurched community.

This is where your knowledge of the community helps. Is there a way that you can appeal to their various interests and concerns? The reason church advertising often doesn’t work is because it is written from the perspective of those who are already in church. Remember, most people who don’t attend church think they don’t need church. Your objective is to convince them that they are missing out. Start by using emotional words and crafting catchy headlines and terrific title tags.

Consider your resources

Your church likely does not have a huge advertising budget, and that’s OK. There are many  low-cost options and even freebies to grow your ministry. United Methodist Communications will soon be offering Digital Advertising Grants to local churches to help “raise awareness of churches in their community by means of online digital advertising.”

The United Methodist Church offers a variety of branding and advertising resources. For example, United Methodist Communications created the “Rethink Church” advertising campaign. This effort is aimed at 18-34 year olds in an attempt to change the image of “church” from a passive gathering of people to an active community of believers. In addition, United Methodist Communications offers branding templates and guidelines to help make local church advertising easier.

There are more avenues for advertising today than ever before. By creating the right online advertising plan, you can reach targeted audiences at a much lower cost. For example, your church can reach people in your community with Facebook ads or draw visitors with other types of social media advertising. You can even use apps like Instagram to promote your church or content marketing to attract new people.  

Church advertising isn’t nearly as complicated as it may seem. And it can be a vital tool in helping introduce your church and your message to a community that has yet not walked through your doors. Make the most of your advertising resources today.