Churches, get over yourselves... you are selling something. Not in the same line as commerce sites, but you are selling something. You are selling eternal life through our savior Jesus Christ. Make no mistake that is your ware. If you are comfortable with that idea, I think one can apply many common web marketing and sales techniques to a church website.
When you are trying to sell something, say a camera, you want to go over all of the specifications and how it will help solve their photography problems. What are the technical specifications of that camera? What is it good for? Is it a point-and-shoot camera for amateurs or a top grade camera for professional photographers? These questions need to be answered before customers will plunk down their hard earned cash.
Share your beliefs
What are the specifics of your faith? What exactly do you believe in? Do you think you will alienate people by telling them what you believe in? Good! At least you will get rid of people that are not interested in your church. Your church secretary will be bothered with one less phone call that will lead nowhere.
So please put your tenants of faith online. Those tenants of faith are something that people want to know. Additionally, how do you tell people about the Bible? Do you bring these thousand-plus-year-old stories to life with plays, performances, and depictions? What sort of community and culture does your church have? Do you have regular social gatherings, Bible studies, help / prayer groups? What is your children's program like? All of these your potential congregation wants to know.
Tell your story
As I will mention in later articles, you need to put these facts and figures into stories. Many historical documents, including the Bible, were passed down through the art of storytelling. This does not mean those stories were fictional; but they were passed on orally from one person to one or more. So do not hesitate to tell the stories of your church, like how a Bible study group helped the life of someone in your congregation.
Pick a target
One common stumbling block is defining your target market. If you say your market is "everyone", then your market is nobody. So figure out what your target market is based on who you want to join your church. An example would be “newly married couples with children”. But you and your senior staff should define that per your local demographics. Find tax or census records and see who is living in your local community. What demographic has increased the most over the past 5-10 years? What demographic is in your congregation? What demographic is not in your church? I will dive into this in greater detail in subsequent posts, but I want to introduce the idea now so you see the whole picture.
What is the action item for this blog post? Go out and read a marketing book, blog, or listen to a podcast. Then apply that to your church. You are indeed selling something and you need to find how to reach your target market today!
Photo courtesy of Aaron Murphy