No Return

August 4, 2005 by

Yesterday I met with the president and his management team from a Bible college here in Southern California. They had initiated the meeting a month ago to discuss “marketing.” Even though this is what I do for a living, I am always encouraged when organizations (especially those of the Christian persuasion), come to realize that often the biggest thing stopping themselves from doing things right is themselves.

I won’t bore you with all the details of the meeting, but one thing did stand out as I contextualize this for church marketing. We spent a significant amount of time discussing their campaign tracking systems, and the data they track. One of the discoveries was that they do not track why people say no. In other words, if a potential student requests information, comes to a preview day, or expresses any amount of interest in attending the college, they are only tracked for how they heard about the school. They are never followed up with to track why they decided not to pursue their original interest.

How are you tracking the people who visit your church? Does it stop after they fill out a visitor card and the box that says “How did you hear about us?” I suggest following up and seeing why people didn’t come back. This data could be invaluable to your growth potential, your growth plans, or your growth problems.

Am I suggesting you tweak your church to fix every reason someone didn’t come back? Absolutely not. I am suggesting that you analyze the reasons and identify trends. While there may be a few things that are obvious and no-brainers, there will be plenty that are just subjective. Again, this is not to suggest you cater. If nothing else, this will help you in the future as you do pursue new avenues of telling people about your church, you will know who responds best to your invitations, and perhaps comes back for another visit.

And while you’re doing the follow-up to see why they didn’t come back, be sure to thank them for coming in the first place.

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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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