No One Reads Your Church Brochure

April 3, 2006 by

Marketing guru Seth Godin recently talked about brochures and said the one thing no marketer wants to hear: Nobody reads brochures.

I didn’t say it wasn’t important. I just said it wasn’t going to get read.

People will consider its heft. They might glance at the photos. They will certainly notice the layout. And, if you’re lucky, they’ll read a few captions or testimonials.

At its best, a brochure is begging for someone to judge you.

Here are a few ways to get more out of your church brochures (some via Godin, some via us):

  • Less words. Cut your copy by a third.
  • Follow the writing rules for busy people (headers, bulleted lists, etc.)
  • Use testimonies from real people with real photos.
  • Did we mention real photos? Ditch the stock photography and use real photos from your church. The authenticity gained is worth the price/effort.
  • Make it remarkable enough that people will show their friends. Now there’s a concept—a church brochure that people talk about. How do you do it? Be funny. Be helpful. Be insightful. Be interesting. Be something no other church brochure is.
  • Show, don’t tell. Telling me you have a fun and exciting children’s ministry isn’t going to work.
  • Leave them wanting more. The point is for people to check out your church or your ministries or whatever your brochure is hyping. So make sure they want more: either they need to know more information or it’s so cool they have to check it out or whatever.
  • Before it’s done, share it with others and get some feedback. An outside perspective can do wonders.

Making a brochure that works is no easy task. But the payoff can be huge. (link via Tony Morgan)

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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18 Responses to “No One Reads Your Church Brochure”

  • Jeremy Scheller
    April 4, 2006

    Totally Agree.
    The powers that be, however, think we need to tell everybody everything in order for them to keep coming back….
    Knowing this, I decided to make our “church brochure” a CD. The insert is the brochure…bit heavy on the text if you ask me…but I had little say… We put a CD in there that is a brief sermonette from our senior pastor about what our church is really about.
    We tell our visitors every week that if they fill out our visitor information form, they can take it to our guest table and pick up a CD. People go crazy for it and the response seems to indicate that people will read the CD liner notes over something that looks like your standard tri-fold brochure.
    Next time, I hope to cut the text in half. Articles like this help give me fuel for the fire.

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  • David Zimmerman
    April 4, 2006

    In my experience, it’s the people you don’t want in your church who are interested in a traditional brochure. These are the people who move from church-to-church and will decide that your church is the right one- until you cheeze them off and they find another right church.
    I don’t know how many Christians have asked me about my vision statement and values, but can’t ever think of a non-Christian who cared about these things. If we want to expand the church beyond shifting people from church to church we need to take Seth’s advice about church brochures

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  • Jesse J. Anderson
    April 6, 2006

    What, are you kidding me? I always take a good look at the brochure, maybe I’m not the norm?
    A brochure should give you a good feel for what the church is about… should always include some sort of general public friendly mission statement that gives a synposis of what the church believes and what its focus is.

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  • David Zimmerman
    April 13, 2006

    Exactly my point. As a Christian you are interested in the brochure. In my experience non-Christians don’t care- they only care if people care about them. If your church is trying to appeal to people already attending church or Christians who are moving to the area- spend time on your brochure. Otherwise, spend your little time and resources elsewhere.

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  • Ted Smethers
    October 8, 2006

    Good stuff on the church brochure. Is there any confusion here between the brochure, which is designed for visitors and the weekly bulliten which should be designed for the members? Both should follow the rules given, but the audience is slightly different.

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  • matilda
    November 18, 2006

    helpful hints. i am doing one now and ive got to change it all over again few words, pictures, action packed.

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  • billy
    January 28, 2007

    Thanks for the great information. I am researching how to write a “brochure.”

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  • Jan
    March 17, 2007

    Great idea re:brochure;no maybe I can finally convince the “powers-that-be” that we don’t need to waste paper and ink (until late on)

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  • SarahJ
    April 13, 2007

    Can you give an example of a church brochure that you actually like?

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  • cliffman
    April 29, 2008

    Give me an example of a church brochure that you like.

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  • Michelle
    June 5, 2008

    Our weekly “bulletins” finally get talked about. We live in SW Florida. After being sick of snow pictures in January on the bulletin stock we were ordering, I finally started taking hi-res photos of our local area. What a HIT! It makes it personal and every week you can hear the chatter about where the photo was taken, etc. What a difference it’s made. For the information, I have a FEW text based “classified” style info blocks and mostly “display ads” with pertinent info. I must say, it’s nice to see people actually referring to the bulletin after the fact.

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  • Pascal
    September 9, 2008

    Wow… Great advice everyone. I think I’m gonna use the advice to change our guest Packets. Short and sweet Brochure in addition to a brochure that includes much of the long worded information + a CD containing sermons and songs. Thanks alot everyone!

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  • Peter Peterson
    February 11, 2010

    Good stuff.

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  • Sarah F.
    May 20, 2011

    Thank you all so much! I totally agree that we need to identify the focus group first, then create the brochure. Church-goers and non-church goers are coming from a different place… we all need Jesus’ love and a family in which to grow and flourish, tho, so with His love as the draw, and genuine love (love in action) displayed, both might be reached. Often we are so ‘self’ centered, but maybe if our brochure contained pictures of loving interaction with the community outside the church it would be inviting…

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  • Milan
    January 16, 2012

    Any advice for a new church plant? We want to get the word out to our community that God is raising up a new kind of church. We don’t have any pictures yet and the only story we have is our (my wife and I) own. Believers might be interested in our God story, but most unbelievers aren’t. I am pretty sure we will create one brochure for believers that may be interested in joining our launch team and another for un-churched people. I think a post about what should be included in each type would be helpful – at least to me.

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  • Terry Buchanan
    June 12, 2012

    Stumbled across the CFCC website… intrigued by the headliner, “No one Reads Your Church Brochure.” Clever opener, got my attention. I found some interesting ideas, thoughts and comments here. Got the ol’ creative juices flowing while diving into a new church brochure project. Thanks!!!

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  • kevin
    October 1, 2013

    how about some brochures you actually like. are any of you brochure haters pastors or church planters? pastors and planters have a little different perspective of what works. if any of you are designers how about some printed materials you actually like. this would make the article helpful and not just antagonistic thanks :D

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  • bill
    September 9, 2015

    Thanks for the worthless article. What was your point? To tell people what should be in a brochure? Well, thanks for telling us what everyone already knows: don’t be wordy, use real photos, make it remarkable….

    Really? You’re simply going to tell us to make it remarkable? Essentially, all you are telling us is to make our brochure better without telling us how. That would be like me “teaching” a child to ride a bike by saying, “What you want to do when riding a bike is make sure to not fall over.” That doesn’t help! That doesn’t teach! It tells the kid what he already knows….but what he needs to know is how. So, I guess what I’m saying is why are you telling us what to do instead of telling us how to do it….

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