Marketing Your Ministry
How to Market Your Ministry: A Basic Template
By Heidi Martella Baumgartner, M.S., Washington Conference communication director
As a ministry leader in the church, you probably don’t have lots of time to devote to marketing your ministry. Communication activities may be an if-I-only-had-time dream or perhaps even an after-thought. With little thought or planning, we jump into distributing our (often haphazard) message and then wonder why we are getting few results.
In the business world, marketers devote quality time and resources to develop thorough marketing plans to target specific audiences with a particular message. Depending on the brand, the plans can range from five pages to hundreds of pages.
What if we took a page from the business world and adapted complex marketing plans into a simple and approachable church marketing plan?
Here’s the process:
Step 1. Define your ministry.
Step 2. Identify your audience.
Step 3. Discover media options.
Step 4. Create a strategy.
Step 5. Implement strategy.
Step 6. Track your success.
Step 1. Define your ministry. Imagine yourself in an elevator, and someone asks you what you do. How do you answer in 15 or 30 seconds?
This is where a little pre-planning comes in.
Your basic ministry description should answer three basic questions:
1) Who are you?
2) What do you do?
3) Why does it matter?
Your detailed ministry description will have two parts: 1) a document that provides a detailed profile of your ministry, and 2) a ministry description summary.
Your detailed profile should include elements such as: ministry history, leadership, any chain of command, mission/vision/values, services provided, any “competitors” who provide similar services, key audiences, and other pertinent information to your ministry. This document will likely be 1-3 pages.
Your ministry description summary should be about 35-50 words—something short and conversational that you can memorize to share at a moment’s notice.
Organization Example: Auburn Adventist Academy is an accredited co-educational, residential campus for students in grades 9-12. The Academy nurtures a vibrant spiritual atmosphere, offers superior academics and fosters a friendly and accepting student body. /32 words
Ministry Example: First Friday is a simple, hour-long program offered by Kent Adventist Church on the first Friday of each month. The program features a time of sharing, prayer, testimony, a Bible-based presentation and a mini-concert./34 words
Where to use: Use this ministry description in conversation, in your message points, in publications such as flyers, brochures and newsletters, and in advertising events.
In public relations, this is called “the boilerplate.” A boilerplate is a standard statement in reference to an organization that used over and over again.
Step 2. Identify your audience. As a church ministry, you need to identify your primary and secondary audiences to address. If your target audience is internal, external or a combination of both, you need to identify demographics such as:
1. Gender, Age Group, Generations and Social Status
Audience demographics can be defined by gender (male/female), age group (3-12, 13-17, 18-34, 34-49, 50+) and/or by generations.
Six major generations function in the United States: pre-Depression (born before 1930), Depressions (born between 1930-1945), Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964), Generation X (born between 1965-1976), Generation Y (born between 1977-1994), and Millennials (born between 1978-1998).
Additionally, descriptors may be used such as: teenagers, young adults, young professionals, working professionals, mothers/fathers, working moms/stay-at-home moms, families, ministry leaders, senior citizens, etc.
Social status may also be used: single, in a relationship, engaged, married, widowed, separated/divorced.
2. Geographic location
State, City, County, Neighborhood, Urban, Suburban, Rural.
Caucasian, African American/Black, Hispanic, Asian American, Native Americans, Other
4. Socio-economic standing
Upper class, upper middle class, lower middle class, working class, lower class. (Search Wikipedia for “Social Class” to find descriptions.)
5. Educational attainment
Grade school, high school graduate, some college, completed college, master’s degree, professional/doctorate degree
6. Employment status
7. Religious affiliation
Not sure how to define the demographics of your community? Do a Zip Code search at www.claritas.com/MyBestSegments/Default.jsp.
In addition, you may want to consider “psychographics” or attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests or lifestyles.
How to Use: Transform your audience profile into a one-paragraph or a one-sentence summary. Example: Our Vacation Bible School ministry targets suburban mothers with children ages 3-12 who live in the Renton area.
Step 3. Discover media options. Your audience description, budget and timeline determine which media options you select.
Local Internal Communication – Communicate with your local church or school through bulletin or verbal announcements, bulletin board, flyers/posters, PowerPoint, newsletter, electronic newsletter, direct mail letter or postcard, website, social media, giveaways (t-shirts, totes, notepads, writing utensils), etc.
Tip: Contact all bulletin editors in Washington Conference by emailing your announcement to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you include an insert/flyer/poster attachment, include a paragraph version as well.
Tip: Create a multi-purpose, one-paragraph announcement (about 35-50 words) and include the event name, a short description, date/time, location, web URL, any special instructions, a call to action, and who people should contact for more information.
Example: THE MEMORY PROJECT: Emerald City Community Adventist Church (linke to church website) invites you to contribute to a Memory Quilt (to be unveiled March 13). A special workshop on preparing quilt panels will be held February 11, from 5:30 to 7 pm at C Art Gallery at 855 Hiawatha Place in Seattle. Panels must be turned in by February 28. >Questions? Email email@example.com or follow ECCSDA Church on Facebook.
Local External Communication – Communicate with your local community through community newspaper event listings (often free), reader boards, direct mail letter/postcard, door knockers, personal neighborhood invitations, social media, church website, community bulletin boards (library, local business, Laundromats), banners, SIGNS boxes, Comcast TV ad, radio announcement, giveaways, etc.
Conference Communication – Communicate with your sister churches/schools/ministries through department newsletters, electronic newsletters, the conference website, monthly pastors’ mailing, social media, etc.
Conference publications: Sailing with Jesus (weekly e-newsletter), Facebook page, Twitter tweets, washingtonconference.org website news stories and calendar listing, Anticipate (quarterly newsletter insert for the GLEANER), contributions to the GLEANER and contributions to Adventist World.
Union Communication – Communicate with a Northwest audience through the GLEANER website, weekly e-newsletter, print edition announcements (free for the first event listing) and department newsletters.
Tip: Work with Washington Conference to place news and event information with the North Pacific Union Conference. The GLEANER print edition does not publish “forward looking” articles, only news reports of recent events.
Step 4. Create a strategy.
With your ministry description, audience profile and media options in hand, it’s time to create your strategy. This should be a 1-2 page document that summarizes your marketing plans.
Basic Creative Strategy Outline
- Why are we advertising? (Identify purpose, goals, objectives)
- Who are we talking to? (Plug in audience profile information)
- What do they currently think? (Plug in psychographic information)
- What would we like them to think?
- What is the single most persuasive idea we can convey?
- What is the tone and style?
- Why should people believe what you say? (Plug in ministry description for your “credentials”)
- What are the creative guidelines? (example: Bulletin insert, postcard, door knocker, imaging for website)
- What is the communication timetable?
Step 5. Implement strategy.
With your strategy defined, it’s time to implement it. If you’re working with a team, give everyone an assignment to accomplish at a pre-determined time. If you’re working by yourself, create an action plan with timelines and deadlines.
Keep track of your communication activities—people or organizations you contacted, their contact information, when you called, what you discussed and any necessary follow-up. Take good quality photos (at least 1 MB in size each) along the way to document the success of your event.
Step 6. Track your success.
Clip newspaper announcements, collect copies of church communication, print out web pages with your event listing. Gather reactions from participants, volunteers, and leaders. Evaluate what worked, what didn’t work and what could be improved.
After your event is over, prepare a news story about your event, what happened and how it turned out. Submit a copy (along with good quality photos with captions) to your community newspaper, church newsletter and conference/union publications.
For a news story, use an informative headline (format: subject, verb, descriptor) Start the story with a short, interesting paragraph (who, what, when, where) and transition to a short background statement (why). Follow with a quote from a leader before providing event details (how). Include a quote from a participant (and include how they are connected to the story). Wrap up your story with a non-editorial summary. Include an author byline with your name, connection to the story, email address and phone number in case the editors need to contact you.