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7 Cost Effective Ways to Grow Your Church!
By:John Panico

Do you want your church to grow? Are you reaching the people looking for a church just like yours? Some of those folks are looking in your area for the first time and yet others for a variety of reasons are looking for a new church home.

If your church is like many organizations, you don't have a large marketing budget to spend on marketing. But that doesn't mean there aren't things your church can do to promote itself. All it takes is being creative by thinking a little bit out of the box to get some fantastic returns on your marketing budget. Here are 7 ideas that should help build your membership if you do them consistently. More importantly, do them in excellence! Are these the only ways to market your church? Absolutely not!

1. Send Out Press Releases REGULARLY! - Press releases are one of the biggest sources of free publicity for your church. One of the most effective (and cheapest) ways to get your message out about your organizations special event or activity is to regularly provide press releases to the local paper and radio stations. These organizations are hungry for content. You just need to provide it to them. Complile a list of all of the outlets in your area. Don't forget to try and find out who handles your section of the paper and sent it to that person directly. Learn how to write a good press release.

2. Email Signatures - How many emails do you send out each day/week/month or year? Many of those emails go to non church congregants. Each of those provides an opportunity for a little promotional "commercial" if you will about your church. An e-mail signature consists of text and/or pictures that are automatically added to the end of an outgoing e-mail message. Email signatures are automatic and once set up require no effort or thought on your side. They provide a powerful opportunity for you to provide your organizations web address and a tag line that promotes what your church is all about.

3. Plan a Special Event! A special event held at your church can either let people know about your church and what it stands for or even reinvigorate awareness of your church. How does that work you ask? Special events give your current members a reason to reach out to friends/co-workers to experience your church. The thing you need to remember is to make special events special. Provide spacing in terms of time between events.

4. Promote a different ministry each month. Your church can be viewed as one large group that is composed of several smaller groups or ministries. Sometimes called Love In Action Ministries, you may have groups within your church that get together regularly that are focused on niches within your church. Some of these groups are or can be Youth/Teens/ Men's Group, Book Study Groups, etc. Each one of the ministries in your church contributes in some way to the growth and outreach of your church. Don't think that just because these groups are ongoing in your church that everyone knows about them. Promote one group each month weekly.

5. Using the internet as an outreach ministry. Now more than ever, individuals are looking to attend churches that share their values. The Internet can be one of the most valuable and cost effective ways to get your church's name in front of others who share your passions. Those others may include the media, civic or community leaders. Don't back away from helping publicize other noteworthy activities in the area either. Your church's interest/participation/promotion of those events will register with like minded individuals who will be attracted to and visit your church. Don't have a website yet? Think Craigslist to promote your church.

6. Signage - Whether it is your church sign or roadside signs placed strategically around the area, this is one of the best returns on investments to get your church exposure and thus visitors. Using your church sign to serve your community is a unique and powerful means of reaching out. Think about announcing community events beyond those that are happening at your church, such as a neighborhood association meeting or charitable events. Let the community know about the organized activities offered by your church beyond weekly services too, such as day care and youth group events. You can also promote your church by putting posters on bulletin boards and other places to let people know what events/services are available at your church. Posters that are the size of a standard sheet of paper (8 " X 11") can usually be posted in a variety of places such as grocery stores, laundry mats, at other places where people gather. Get permission before you put up your posters. Be a good neighbor!

7. Postcards/flyers - In the age of the internet, many wonder if this medium works. Yet for shear cost effectiveness, in your immediate area, either hand delivering or mailing a postcard in a 1 mile area around your church is hard to beat. What is amazing about dropping a postcard off at a home is the lingering effect as well as the immediate response. You will see results almost immediately in visits to both your church and your website. There will be a diminishing return as interest from that postcard will erode over time. But you will see folks coming to church months after from that initial campaign. That is actually a great thing. So, by systematic in rotating the areas/neighborhoods you are covering. And just because you dropped off a postcard in a neighborhood previously, don't feel you can't do it again. You should always see visitors/interest from a postcard campaign. So instead of doing 1 large campaign of say 10,000 postcards/flyers all at once. Better to do them in 500 increments a week.

Don't feel like you have to incorporate all of these at once. Learn how to do each one of these and do them well. On the other hand, you don't have to have perfected an item to begin on another. Just don't try to do too many at once. Tweak each item and split test results to see which approach works better.

Want to learn more about church marketing? Or did you read something here that you want to discuss more? Perhaps you have a project that you need help on or at least want to bounce ideas off. We are there for you!

We welcome your feedback at Unity Church Marketing http://www.unitychurchmarketing.com. Or follow our tweets on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnpanico

We think church can and should be more. We hope you do as well!