As we transition into 2019 there are some marketing strategies on the horizon that will redefine the face of the church. More importantly, how we embrace these marketing strategies will directly impact the growth and attendance of our churches. The Church, at large, will be forced to let go of some current marketing techniques and will need to embrace, the somewhat uncomfortable technologies that mark the future. Church marketing will continue to change and many churches are at a crossroads of letting go of the traditional models of marketing and embracing the new. One way to look at it is that we are in a marketing “reformation” in the Church right now.
Technology and the Church
Let me add a quick disclaimer before we move on. There are many churches that have been on the front edge of this quickly developing, technologically advancing movement in church media. However, there are many stuck in doing what they have always done. They do it simply because “it’s what we have always done.” I would encourage Pastors, Leaders, and church teams to really take time and evaluate your marketing strategies for 2019.
Moving forward it may be easier to understand emerging marketing trends in 2019 by taking a look at what is not going to work. Newspaper advertisements are quickly becoming a non-relevant marketing option. The digital age has literally killed newspaper listings as an effective marketing tool for churches. My suggestion is, don’t waste your money! I wouldn’t waste time or money on making commercials for local television either. If you are not reaching an audience on a global scale, then you are wasting your time and money. Another one that you may not have thought of, and may be surprising to some of you, is your website.
Let me explain. Not that long ago, your internet presence revolved entirely around the quality and presentation of your website. Don’t get me wrong a website is still important. But it’s not the “thing” anymore. My suggestion is to develop a simple, yet high-quality website as a sort of landing place. Where the basic necessities are available and accessible in a simplistic format. You need to include, who you are, what you are about, how to connect, etc. Again, keep it clean and simple. That doesn’t mean to skimp on the quality. A simple, high-quality website should really be used as a sort of portal or gateway to the marketing avenues that are truly effective.
What I believe to be the most effective marketing tools in 2019, will be video marketing content distribution channels. What I mean by this is Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and in some cases, Podcasts are still relevant and effective. When I mention social media as a means to influence, I’m talking about a global reach that many churches are still not utilizing. This consists of developing and maintaining an online video presence with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo.
However, I should make a point right here. You have to be consistent in your audience engagement in order to maintain and grow an online audience. You have to be present online, a lot! There are ways to streamline this process. Automation software and platforms such as Hootsuite, Buffer, HubSpot, etc. allow for your online engagements to be consistent. Churches can save loads of time by scheduling and automating audience engagement through social media. This allows more time to focus on live streaming and creating quality video content that really engages people on a personal and intimate level. This is where the time you save on website maintenance can be used. The time you save by simplifying your website and lowering the time it takes for you to maintain it can be allocated to video promotion and social media posts.
This leads to my next point. Oh, and here is another disclaimer. I’m getting ready to use the word rebrand. When I use this terminology, it may trigger a response like “Oh, we already have done that!” In the context of this article, I’m going to discuss briefly the topic of rebranding in a different light. I’m not talking about creating amazing logos, catchy three-word tag lines, modern decorated spots for community and coffee, and whatever else makes your church atmosphere esthetically pleasing. Don’t get me wrong, all of that is much needed. But when I say rebrand, I’m speaking of something a little deeper.
The context in which I’m speaking of rebranding is to use video distribution channels as a means to reveal the culture of a church. Your online presence should not just be a commercial for your church. In order to be effective, it really should reveal a depth to your leaders, the mission of your church, and most importantly how and why people should come and be a part of your church family. What will set you apart in 2019 is your ability to represent your congregation online in a very real and intentional way. People are looking to belong. They are wanting to invest their time, families, finances and really their lives. They are looking for a reason to be “all in” with a community of people living the life they want to be living. The ability to grow your church will greatly depend on how well you can use video and social media to take down the walls that keep people from seeing the heart of your church. This is probably the most import aspect of church marketing for 2019. If you can represent your church online through recorded video and live streaming, in an authentic way you will grow and maintain numbers.
This year is a significant time in the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ. I believe that as we shift and grow with the technological advancements of our day, we can redeem them for Jesus Christ. I wish you the best in 2019 as you further the Kingdom of God by utilizing these marketing tips.