Just like a lot of businesses around the country, there are some jesus a gospel of love that have not only maintained, but actually thrived during the most recent economic downturn. There are some recent finds in a study done by Trinity College that indicates that there are a growing number of folks out there who either consider themselves as having no religion or what may be referred to as the “unchurched”
Whatever you call it, the numbers have almost doubled since 1990. Folks having no religion account for 15% of the population now, up from 8%. That is huge to me.
Is Marketing the Problem?
My first inclination was that lack of marketing was the issue. But that is not the complete answer. Your church takes on a brand. And consumers can be brand fickle. The churches that are defining their brand to target age groups are experiencing more success.
Will Social Media Marketing be Your Savior?
Not so much. Just like internet advertising, marketing your church can be a 24/7 full court press. And those with a marketing budget can possibly make up for their lack of fiscal monies by using Social Media. But that should not be the only tools in your box. A campaign such as “Rethink Church” that the United Methodist Church has begun is a great example of what a successful marketing program is like.
Street teams, door hangers, T-shirts, Twitter and Face book are included as campaign media, along with network TV, radio print, mobile, e-mail, outdoor and event sponsorships. Let’s be real, radio, print and TV may be out of most churches reach. But how do you compete against the mega churches that have seemingly unlimited funds (although we all know that not to be the case)? But other than those high ticket expenditures, there isn’t any reason that you can’t display your church brand in excellence.
Shoot With a Rifle, Not With a Shotgun
When you shoot with a rifle, you have to be specific about your target. Compared to shooting a shotgun, you only have to point in the direction of your target. Larger churches can afford the shotgun approach. Smaller churches need to hone their sites better.
So What is the Right Demographic???
I have been to a lot of churches who indicate that you focus on children and build it from there. I am not saying that won’t work. It would seem that your focus should be on the 20-40 years old as that is when they come to grips and for lack of a better word “finalize” their religious affiliation. But here’s something that you should really focus in on:
OK – but why shouldn’t we focus on children?
No one is saying not to. But so many churches that I have spoken with believe whole heartedly that the kids will get their parents to come. But when they do that, many times the church doesn’t have solid programs in place to offer to that sweet spot of 20-36 year olds. So while the children are a good start, perhaps you should be focused on their parents. Parents will bring the kids with them.
Marketing Can Only Do So Much
So you did your outreach to the golden demographic of 20-36 year olds and they are bringing their kids. Feeling pretty good about yourself aren’t you? Not so fast. The fact of the matter is most churches have always done some sort of marketing. Some of them do it a lot better than other. Just like attorneys and doctors, people no longer have a poor view of churches that market.