Monday, February 18, 2008

Church Marketing Sucks.

Ooh. Edgy. Offensive. Angry. Funny. So totally true. So what?

The sacred sub-sector of the non-profit world has its work cut out for it. Consider:
  • the ripped-off red and white swirl logo that read “Things go better with Jesus,”
  • the hulking Jesus doing push ups with the cross (and the weight of the world) on his back in the name of “God’s Gym,”
  • the big F-150 pick-up truck grill with the caption, "Built Lord Tough."

Christian marketing is all over the map. Unfortunately, much of it can be labeled “cheesy.” Worst of all, it’s not taken seriously.

Whatever your message to the public at large, the worse response to a general, mainstream media message is apathy. Getting ignored proves that you wasted whatever time and money you invested.

Tied for third place is the hearty “Amen” from the already converted, and the indignant cry of “Wrong!” from the opponents, both with little in the way of follow-up and follow-through.

The second most desirable response to a general market communications campaign is the protest, demands for a retraction, a letter campaign, pickets. A real outcry extends the reach of your original message to exponentially more than would have received the message otherwise. I’ve seen pickets and demonstrations do wonders (make million$$) for the people they were trying to shut down.

The winner for any marketing message fired out into the atmosphere for the general public is the considered response by the unaffiliated and undecided. The second look. The “maybe I’ll try it.” Watch how the political campaigns sprint for the middle after their nominations are secure.

That’s the position most churches find themselves in. Declining in attendance, marginalized by the media, mocked by the educational and scientific establishment, churches have a lot of ground to make up with people who don’t hate church. They don’t love church either. They are kinda-sorta you know, just busy doing other stuff. Enter the blog “Church Marketing Sucks.”

Given what they think is a “timeless message,” and “good news for the whole world,” churches have the potential to build a pretty good reputation at the grassroots. Media images, sex scandals and mega churches aside, what can a small to mid-sized congregation do to communicate its positive, feel-good message to its nonchalant neighbors?

Check out the serious and fun-filled folks who post at Church Marketing Sucks. Recent posts include a gallery of marketing poster art, dispatches from a Compassion project with orphans in Uganda, and a poll on love/dating/sex sermons. It's an excellent forum for taking this sector up a few notches in quality and effectiveness. We can only pray.

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