I’ll be the first to admit that I get very narrow sighted most of the time when it comes to marketing. I am an online marketer so for me it’s all about using the web to attract people to a site. I like having the ability to track everything and then make changes based on the data I collect. Today however I am switching gears and going more ‘old-school’ with my marketing. How can churches use print advertising and paper creatives to reach a greater audience and create a buzz?
A few weeks ago I was reading a post on what a church in Detroit, MetroSouthChurch.com, was doing to create a buzz and do something ‘viral’ to attract new people. They basically put out this campaign and used phrases like, “This church sucks – Satan” on billboards and flyers. There is obviously debate on whether this was tasteful or not; but the point here is that it was effective at helping them achieve their goals. Get the communities attention and create an interest in their church. On that level, mission accomplished. They also created a mini-site based around the campaign and did some funny YouTube videos, also aimed at driving traffic.
The thing about viral marketing that makes it a success creating a message strong enough for people to want to pass on; when they rather tell their friends about your message rather than their own. It becomes even more impactful when your message become a part of their own and continues to spread. Here are a few simple ideas and mediums to use…
Business Cards are one of the oldest and most utilized forms of contact information and information sharing. However, the problem most of the time with biz cards are that they are boring and don’t convey a message. Members of your church don’t necessarily need a card that says ‘my church – senior member’ but they could use a few of these to share with other people. Imagine this, you’re out and strike up a conversation with someone at the grocery store. Church comes up and they are interested in checking it out. Rather than just tell them just the name and service times, or even worse a 25 character URL, how cool would it be to just hand them a clever card with that information on it. Making them with out a name allows you to print them in bulk and gives people the chance to ‘personalize’ them by hand writing their name and email on the back. ‘Give me a call when you’re coming’ can go a long ways in getting people involved that normally wouldn’t come.
Experimenting with shapes, sizes and materials can also go a long way in gaining more attention. In the image above, how many more people do you think noticed this part bench (that’s totally unpractical) rather than a normal parch bench painted with a logo and slogan? I’ve seen a ton of churches slap their name and logo on a billboard, flyer or even bench and get no traction out of it. Just like web browsers have banner blindness and don’t click on standard ads, people driving by don’t notice the same old mediums with the same boring messages. These are kind advertisements that people will take a picture of, post on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter and bring you the end result you’re aiming for – exposure and interest.
Billboards are also a more traditional, but still effective form of advertising. Like I said above though, these are often boring and played out. A picture of your senior pastor and his wife, an address, service times and a phone number. You get the picture. However, billboards can work; and they tend to work best when there is some continuity involved. Like the Metro South Church campaign I mentioned above, there were ‘reinforcements already in place that described what the gimmick was all about and how they were a place that accepted you as you were and wasn’t judgmental. They had produced a website that lead people to their church website and videos that ultimately stated their purpose and called people to attend their services.
Creating a campaign is an experiment. Planning ahead of time is essential to its success. With all the attraction of online marketing we often forget that some of the more traditional mediums can still be very effective when done right. It’s best to think about what your goals are, the budget involved and then map out a plan of communicating it. Blending some of these online/offline channels together can help you get the most out of your campaign and even strengthen the tools you already have in place.