A Sense of Humor is Great for Marketing

September 7, 2005 by

For more than 15 years I’ve driven past a church on the way to my parents’ house without ever really noticing that it was there. (Most likely because it’s located next door to Handel’s, north-east Ohio’s best ice cream parlor.) A few days ago, I happened to glance at their message board while following a slow car.

It read:

We aren’t Handel’s, but our Sundays sure are great!”

I actually laughed out loud. I was also interested enough that when I drove by it again the next day, I checked to see what church it was. (Church Hill United Methodist in Youngstown, Ohio if you’re curious.) I even asked a few people if they’d heard of it. Alas, when I looked them up on Google, they had no web site.

Which leads to my second point. If you’re going to catch someone’s attention, make sure that more information is readily available.

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Jennifer Laycock

Jennifer Laycock is a search engine marketing consultant and editor of Search Engine Guide. She's also a full-time work-at-home mom to an adorable little girl named Elnora.
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13 Responses to “A Sense of Humor is Great for Marketing”

  • L. Haverstic
    September 8, 2005

    I drove by a small UM church in Kansas yesterday and saw the same posting, only with D.Q. substituted. The sign caught my attention, but not in a good way. I agree that a sense of humor is helpful in marketing (and in worship), but I deplore those trite, cutesy, corny postings that seem to be a communicable (pardon the pun) disease among churches with changeable text signage. I applaud the July 26, 2004 feature on “Church Signs Made Easy” still in the CMS archives. Would that more congregations yield not to temptation of filling sign space just to fill it.

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  • brand1m
    September 9, 2005

    Any humor that requires a rim shot after you read/hear it isn’t good humor, in my opinion. Puns are bad – we can be smarter than that. For this situation, maybe you keep the ice cream idea but maybe it could go with something about hell being hot and melting your ice cream? I don’t really like that either because that usually leads to the signs “You think its hot HERE?” but hopefully you get the point. Lets raise the humor to grown up humor that has a bigger idea and doesn’t make me hear “Badda bing” after I read it.
    I do agree that we need to make more and better use of humor. After so many years of angry preachers on TV yelling and screaming and people talking about suffering for Jesus, I think its time that people see the church as a place that has fun, loves God and loves them too while they’re at it.

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  • Church Marketing Sucks :: They Said It, Not Me

    Using Technorati’s new tool, Blog Finder, I cam…

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  • Jason Smith
    September 9, 2005

    We’ve been doing advertising for the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Cambridge for about 7 years. Mostly we’ve been using quotes from the congregation that talk about how this church was different. But, this fall we’ve gone humorous. Our series shows a visual of a “coupon” the copy reads: FREE COFFEE (offer valid Sundays only). Other ads: LIVE MUSIC (never a cover charge) and BUY 1 GET 1 FREE (2 sermons every Sunday. The response thus far has been very positive, we’ll have some real data in a few weeks.

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  • Jonathan Blundell
    September 9, 2005

    I’ve seen that sign for a couple years in Texas, with either “We’re not DQ” or “We’re not Braums” and other variations. But the other day, driving down Main Street in Belton I read, “Our Sundaes are better than DQ’s.”
    I was about ready to pull in and ask where the ice cream was.
    If you want to catch someone’s attention (humor or not) its a good idea to get the spelling on the pun right.

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  • Matt
    September 10, 2005

    I saw that church in Y-town, too… it does catch your attention!

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  • brand1m
    September 10, 2005

    At the last church I worked at, the pastor there had some cards made up for handing out as advertising. They said, “Good for one free sermon” and had the church address on the other side.
    They were a total spike through me head.

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  • kevin
    September 11, 2005

    Ah, come on, Brandon. You don’t like puns? I love puns. I think your complaint comes down to a basic preference and that seems hard to apply as a general rule. Who says puns aren’t grown up humor? I don’t know any kids who enjoy puns–just really smart adults.
    You gave your opinion, and that’s mine. Though maybe a better option would be for churches to go for a diversity of humor. Some light and airy puns here, some deeper, more thoughtful stuff there. Seems like there’s room for all kinds of humor.

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  • vg
    September 12, 2005

    who cares what church goers think about the signs, it’s about sparking an interest in a someone who is unsaved. So many christians are so stuck in the christian bubble, that they have no idea what reaches out to the people because they remove themself so far away from the “unclean”

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  • brand1m
    September 13, 2005

    I think church goers SHOULD care what their sign says because if the unsaved think that we are nothing but a cheese factory then why would they waste their time checking us out.
    To quote Luke Sullivan from his book, “Hey Whipple, SQUEEZE THIS”, he says, “Puns, in addition to being the lowest thing on the joke food chain, have no persuasive value. It’s okay to think them. It’s okay to write them down. Just make sure you toss them.”

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  • simply His
    September 15, 2005

    Church Signs

    Church Marketing Sucks has an interesting entry referencing a church sign.
    I thought I would share this one from a neighborhood church:
    “Even a fish stays out of trouble if he keeps his mouth shut.”
    I have to admit I’m a little…

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  • TheVine
    September 24, 2005

    Only Come If Your Saved – would this sign attract anyone?  It is interesting to find that the original poster has past by this church many times -however never once had remembered the sign until it was a catch phrase – a pun  – something to stick in the back of a persons mind.
    The basic premise of a sign is different than a 
    billboard. If a church has a sign that has the option of adding text than it is truly a billboard – even if the original premise was not designed as such. The main difference here is simple – a sign is a displayed structure bearing lettering or symbols, used to identify or advertise a place of business  whereas a billboard is a panel for the display of advertisements in public
    places, such as alongside highways or on the sides of buildings.
    The problem is that many people believe that the Advertising focus of the church should be such that everyone knows how to get saved without entering the door.  If introducing others to Jesus Christ were that easy -than churches
    would not be needed for this purpose – and Billy Graham would have been successful in paying for billboards vs. arenas to pack people in. We could let evangelists do all the introductions and then sit back and wait for new Christians to come in droves to worship and grow into disciples.  This is the difference (not the only of course) in having an outward focus vs. an inward focus when it comes to church growth.
    Just as worship needs to be relevant, so do the methods we use to introduce others in the community to our church. It is important that people see and can understand the message that the church is trying to convey.
    The fact remains – pun or not – this church had someone (after 15 years) take a closer look @ their sign – because of their billboard.  The billboard did its job – and perhaps someone has stopped in to experience a true Sunday. (sorry for the pun
    Glenn Kelley,
    Director of Cyberministry &Technology
    First United Methodist Church of Mt. Ephraim

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  • Curt
    September 6, 2006

    While driving through a small town in southern Illinois, I saw a sign at a Lutheran church that read “God have mercy on me a sinner” It was a biblical truth that grabed me where as all the cutesy little puns just leave me fealing empty. Has mainstream christianity become pharisaical? Most messages on church signs seem to focus on what we do for God rather than what He has done for us.

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