Lessons In Not Sucking: Cheap Marketing Ideas for Church Planters

November 12, 2007 by

This is part four in a series on Lessons In Not Sucking. Today we discuss cheap marketing ideas for church planters. Having been a church planter myself, I understand the disparity between “cheap” and “idea,” and I also know this list is way too short. If you have other ideas, please add them here in the comments.

1. Don’t do it
This is probably the best way to save money. It still amazes me how many people think that money is the answer to church growth, especially in the context of church planting. By deciding not to do your idea or ideas, not only will you save money, you’ll save time and headache, too. Still convinced you want to do it? Read on.

2. Hand-write invitations
I’ve heard of several people doing this with remarkable results. I originally got this idea from a few people in the business world who were starting their own companies– they wrote personal hand-written invitations to potential clients. This inexpensive and highly targeted approach may be a great place to start for your new church plant or new ministry start.

3. Go to where the people are (online and off line)
Contrary to the thousands of ads you see and hear every day, no one ever said marketing is easy. Don’t rely on direct mail and other mass marketing to get the job done for you. The most effective way to reach people is to go to them. Go where they go. Do what they do. Hang where they hang.

4. Visit businesses and “work” the crowds (elevators, lunch room, etc)
This is along the lines of the #3. Establish some contact with a few of your friends who work in larger companies and do lunch together in the big lunch room or cafeteria. Or if you’re looking for the college crowd, do the same thing there. Don’t be all about getting people to church on the weekend, be all about being with people. There’s a concept.

5. Create remarkable experiences
Josh blogged about Seth Godin’s comments at Google. Instead of trying to stir up buzz or get people talking, the idea is to focus more on what you’re getting people talking about. People don’t talk about something because you ask them to, they talk about something because they want to. Do they want to talk about you and what you’re doing?

6. Night projector on side of huge building
Get permission from the owners of a large building that is close to a road with a lot of traffic. Rent a projector with powerful lumens. Set it up at night and project it on to the wall of the building. I saw this a few months ago in downtown LA. A little mini-van had a project shooting an image that was about 30′ wide by 24′ tall. Huge. And really cheap.

7. Start building a crowd for something other than a church
Instead of starting a church, maybe you should start a crowd. It’s a whole lot easier and so much more of a support base for when you actually start the church. How? It goes back to being with people. Go to where the people are.

8. Use existing messaging pieces from others and apply them to your context
If something is working for someone else, see if it can work for you. Start small. Test it. Don’t copy. Don’t tweak million dollar ad campaigns and make them sound church-y.. This leads into the last idea…

9. Get ideas from the Church Marketing Lab
Over 1,000 people are over there right now. Have you not joined in the action yet?

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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5 Responses to “Lessons In Not Sucking: Cheap Marketing Ideas for Church Planters”

  • Janie Mehaffey
    November 12, 2007

    Brad … you were an answer to prayer this morning.
    I was staring at our MASSIVE list of marketing ideas trying to narrow it down to the most realistic, resource-effective and compelling. (The Pursuit launches in Miami in January.)
    Paralyzed, I decided to avoid the project by checking out my Bloglines for the day . . . and there you were.
    # 1 was freeing and #2 was brilliant. I already have our launch team working on a list of peeps to start receiving hand-written notes to our preview services.
    Thx for using your big brain powers for good.

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  • Aaron Marshall
    November 12, 2007

    I recently helped a friend begin to make YouTube videos to his prospective supporters.
    Not general videos… Videos that speak directly to the supporters!
    We have had a great response so far. Hope this helps!
    Here is a post I did a few weeks back about How To Raise Support with YouTube

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  • Anjuan
    November 12, 2007

    I think that teaching your congregation to take part in marketing is key. My church did something called FRANgelism campaigns every quarter or so where we encouraged members to invite Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances, and Neighbors. A lot of church members don’t realize the power of their own word of mouth activities. I think that combining this with hand written invitations would be very powerful.

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  • Rachel Goldstein
    November 28, 2007

    I really love the list of marketing ideas that you put together. I just wrote an article with 120 self promotional ideas…I thought that your users might find it useful – http://allgraphicdesign.com/graphicsblog/2007/11/28/120-self-promotion-ideas-for-graphic-designers-freelancers-free-or-almost-free/
    Thanks again for the great article.

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  • John Sasson
    December 7, 2010

    Great article. It’s just about a year ago we completed construction of a 100 foot tall church cross cell tower. The project, with some small amount of public relations effort, earned newspaper and television stories around the world, from the Times of London to the NY Post and even a late night monologue joke. We christened it after our Christmas Eve service.
    Importantly it all began with some out of the box thinking. Since then , I’ve heard from churches all over the country, and I’ve even added that to the marketing tools I offer churches to promote themselves.

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