I Can’t Afford Marketing That Doesn’t Suck

September 30, 2004 by

Working with hundreds of churches over the years, I get so frustrated with the “we don’t have any money” excuse so prevalent with today’s pastors and church councils. I understand tight budgets, small tithe and offering collections, and options too numerous to count for what to do with the limited money churches do have. From building funds to paper for the copier, better toys in the nursery to paying the electric bill, church ain’t cheap. Add in all of the ministry options like youth group trips to Mexico, holiday productions, and new curriculum for Sunday school, and you’ve got bona fide benevolence bliss.

In business, there is a saying that goes something like:

If you can’t afford to advertise, perhaps that’s why.

In other words, if you don’t have the money to promote, market and build awareness of who you are, perhaps that is one reason why you will be limited in your potential. I think often times, instead of building potential, we expect it. (Aren’t there several parables where Jesus talks about storing up for the harvest, being faithful to reap a good return on what you do have, etc.?)

Certainly there is good “spiritual” return on the investment into curriculum, Bibles for new believers, etc., but I also believe the return on good marketing for your church will yield very favorable results well into the future. It’s not rocket science: the more people you promote to, the more people will come to your church.

And how are you going to promote to more people if you don’t spend any money doing it?

What would it look like if you put a certain percentage of your monthly revenue every month to the side for future marketing? Kind of like a savings account for church marketing. Continue doing this and increasing (or decreasing) the amount so it fits with annual planning.

Please, no more complaining about not having any money to market the church. Either you’re going to be a church that grows and reaches more people for Christ, or you’re not. Marketing plays a big role in this.

Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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8 Responses to “I Can’t Afford Marketing That Doesn’t Suck”

  • Rhinoguy
    September 30, 2004

    Good article, and timely as my senior pastor has been recently approached by a company selling “exclusive licenses” of their ads and cable time to promote our church (the ads are pre-made and our church name/website/phone number will be added at the end of the spot). Everything looks slick and on the up-and-up, but it would be a new approach for us – I’d hate to get fleeced.

    Are there ways to determine the legitimacy of the company (FaithHighway)? Googling doesn’t turn up much +/- on it. Are there questions we should ask to make sure the deal works for us (the devil being in the details, and all).

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    • Justin
      February 17, 2011

      We originally used faithHighway for our website – do not recommend. Poor service, poor product.

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      • Laura Burrus
        February 21, 2011

        Wow! We were surprised to see this comment pop up all of the sudden. We are also very surprised to see your blog of “faithhighway reviews,” which has taken comments completely out of context to propagate your agenda. After our interaction with you in Feb. 2010, we thought, by your apology that you sent us, that we had reconciled. We addressed your issues and you even mentioned it in your apology. We have been in business over 11 years and have successfully helped thousands and thousands of ministries. We know we aren’t perfect, but we also know we aren’t terrible either. We are more than happy to make right, if we have wronged you. Please contact us at feedback@faithhighway.com and we will respond appropriately.
        Here is your response to us (faithHighway) last February.

        ——– Original Message ——–
        Subject: Apology
        Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2010 17:16:02 -0600
        From: Justin Grice

        To: Greg Johnson

        Dear Greg Johnson,
        I tried to call you and couldn’t get in touch. I wanted to take a moment to write to you. Please ignore any other emails I sent in haste. While the Pastoral team has decided to stand with me on the issues between us and Faithhighway, I want to put the matter to rest. The services gained from your company may not have suited our needs, but I am sure that Faithhighway is exactly what some church wants. We had a breakdown in communication and some of that is due to me. I want you to know that we did not intend on using images that we do not have the rights to. In looking at the email transcript between us, I see where the mix-up occurred. When I asked if it was possible to get our images off our account (meaning our personal pictures), you said no because of copyright (meaning faithhighway’s images). Since I knew that we had the right to our pictures, I dismissed this email. When I realized during the conversation what you meant, I quickly took them down. The pastor, Jackie Bryant, who used to be on staff was also in graphic design and I was not aware that it was not ours. I am glad that faithhighway has also acted on their end by emailing us the files I asked for.

        But this is more than just a business thing. If we were two nonbelievers, the behavior would have been expected. I apologize for how I treated you. Though I believe my complaint could be posted legally and was fairly accurate, I have taken it down in good faith.

        As far as Joe Kennedy, I do not know him personally, believe it or not. He is a friend of a friend and got our story. I asked him to take down the account of what happened. Though he may continue to say stuff about faithhighway, I have backed away from that. I am thankful that it seems he was the cause of helping us both understand what happened with the images when he clarified that we were wanting our personal pictures.

        Again, I am sorry this had to happen. If you happen to be at the NEXT Conference March 1st in Warner Robins, Georgia, maybe I will see you there.

        Your Friend,
        Justin Grice
        Connection Pastor

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  • Rhinoguy
    September 30, 2004

    Actually, page 6 of the Google search turned up the ChurchMarketingSucks “don’t suck” page (I really should explore the site more), so I guess they have the seal of approval.

    Still, any tips on avoiding contract pitfalls would be appreciated.

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  • brad
    September 30, 2004

    Rhinoguy: I’m so encouraged to hear you’re even considering something like this, not to mention the apparent pursual of it! I am familiar with the company you mentioned. The products and services they offer have been around for sometime. They actually bought everything from a previous organization who was was the original creator of most of the content. Bottom line: these commercials/ads have been serving churches well for years. My only real concern for you going down this road is how does this play into everything else you are doing to promote your church? If this is your one big “push,” I would scale it back a bit and spend less money on more targeted options. However, if you already have other stuff going for you, by all means, move forward. It never hurts to test the water a bit with these higher priced campaigns before diving in all the way.

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  • Scott Houchin
    September 30, 2004

    Yes! Yes!

    And if anyone doubts the impact of advertising. We just moved into our first building and had a comprehensive advertising plan including some newspaper ads, direct mail and brochures dropped on doorsteps. We have a printer that treats us well and estimated the cost of this at $12K.

    Between the one week before our grand opening and the grand opening day itself, we had about 200 new people come through the door and 70 first time faith commitments. Yes 70. That was out of 750 people at that grand opening Sunday. We were praying for big things, but hadn’t imagined anything that big.

    Advertising works. If you want to reach people living in the 21st century, you can’t act like a church from the old days.

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  • Scott Houchin
    October 1, 2004

    Ooops. In my excitement about our grand opening results, I got two numbers mixed up. So since this is recorded for posterity, let me correct myself.

    70 is the total number of faith commitments for all of 2004 at Lakeshore. The number as a result of our advertising bringing people to church is 40. Still more than we had prayed for.

    But let me reinforce my point. That’s 40 lives that are now won for the glory of Christ because we were willing to spend our money to reach those people on their pre-Christ terms.

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  • Dennis Cummins
    April 1, 2006

    In answer to Faith Highway, yes we used them…We did comercials with them…for us it was a total and complete utter flop!!!! Not one person came in our doors that we could find due to the comercials at $2,300.00 a month. Yeah that right! I am kicking myself right now! Direct mail is our ticket…yes there are varialbes of knowing who you are marketing to, and what’s on the card, and needing to do multiple mailers. But all that said, it’s the key element.
    This is what we did to pay for it, since we didn’t have the $12,000.00 in the budget. We spread it out over three months and have the people pay for the cards. I told them, “For $38.00 you can personally invite 100 people to church and for $380.00 you can invite 1000 people to church.” They ate it up! People took ownership – instead of some “corporate financed outreach.” The people really got behind this. Especially if they believe in the church they are going to. Meaning some people attend a church that they would never consider inviting anyone to – they haven’t drank the coolaid :-)

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