Non-profit, for-profit, and church marketing campaigns
You know you need a marketing campaign for your church Easter egg hunt, or the new sermon series, or the marriage retreat, or the volunteer event. But you’ve got meetings to go to, budget items to approve, fires to put out… And before you know it, that big event is a week away and you haven’t done anything to advertise it!
So you flood the church’s channels about it. A couple emails to the congregation, a bunch of social posts, a pre-service video announcement, an event listing in your church’s app. The message is out there. How could anyone miss it?
But then—no one comes.
What’s not working? Is it the way you’re communicating the message? The timing of the messaging? The event itself? Should you read yet another marketing book in the spare time you don’t have?
Take a deep breath. We’re here to help.
You may already have the marketing knowledge, but you need a practical guide for how to put those strategies into practice at your church.
So here’s a quick, digestible guide for your church’s next marketing campaign. We’ll look at timing, best practices, and examples for each step of the process.
We’ll use the example of marketing an Easter egg hunt so you can see the ideas in practice, but you can use this approach to market anything: a book, a free resource, a specific ministry area, or even a for-profit business.
You can create your own marketing campaign for your church by following this article and filling out ArtSpeak’s Marketing Campaign Template Google Doc. Download it for free here ›
5 Steps to Create a Marketing Campaign for Your Church, Non-Profit, or Business
- Refine the event, resource, or ministry to meet your audience’s needs.
- Develop the campaign’s messaging and visual feel.
- Think through the audience journey.
- Create specific marketing deliverables.
- Launch your marketing deliverables.
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Refine the Event, Resource, or Ministry to Meet Your Audience’s Needs
When to start refining: 16 weeks before the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
When to have details set: 14 weeks before the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
Identify the Shared Win
Before you ask a staff member to start drafting social posts or designing a handout, take a few steps back to make sure the event, resource, or ministry meets your audience’s needs.
If the event doesn’t offer your audience any value—if it doesn’t touch on a pain point—they won’t be interested. All the good marketing in the world isn’t going to work.
First, figure out your audience’s pain points. Sample questions to ask:
- What emotions does our audience feel regarding this event’s topic?
- What are our audience’s biggest challenges regarding this topic?
- What are our audience’s hopes and fears regarding this topic?
Second, figure out what your church needs. Sample questions to ask:
- What are our goals for this resource?
- How does this resource relate to faith and a meaningful relationship with God?
Third, figure out how your event, resource, or ministry will meet both your audience’s needs and your church’s needs. Sample questions to ask:
- How can this ministry help our audience overcome their challenges and make their hopes become reality?
- How can we use this ministry to draw people into the church for meaningful faith in Jesus?
Another way to approach this is by visualizing a communication triangle. The first corner of the triangle is your audience’s pain points. The second corner is your church’s needs. The third corner is the shared win, or how your event, resource, or ministry fulfills both your and your audience’s needs.
Say you are marketing an Easter egg hunt.
Your audience: Parents with young children. They fear Easter will be uneventful or that their kids will miss out on the Easter experience. They want a fun, family-friendly event during which they can make new memories.
You want: People to come to your event. Further down the road, you want those people to attend a worship service, get plugged into the life of the church, and have meaningful faith in Jesus.
The Shared Win: Your event will include a photo booth and an Easter bunny to take family pictures with. You’ll give each child a branded bag to collect eggs and include a flyer inside with information about worship services, small groups, Sunday school, or other family-friendly goings-on.
The pastors and other church staff will greet families as they enter and engage them in conversation to get to know each family and help each person feel welcome. And to stir up interest in the event and your church, you will offer a free resource with 10 ways families can teach their kids about Easter at home.
Step 2: Develop the Campaign’s Messaging and Visual Feel
When to start developing the messaging and visuals: 13 weeks before the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
When to have the messaging and visuals set: 11 weeks before the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
Messaging: Getting Your Audience to Care
Now that you’ve figured out how your event, resource, or ministry meets your audience’s needs, you have to figure out how to convince your audience that they can trust your church to meet their needs.
These “why you should care” promises are what we call value propositions.
Your value propositions should be built on your audience’s hopes and fears, which you identified in step 1. For example:
- Audience hope: That I’ll make Easter fun and memorable for the whole family
- Audience fear: My kids will miss out on the Easter experience
- Value proposition: A fun, family-friendly Easter egg hunt where you can make new family memories
Those value propositions should be the foundation for the language you use to communicate your event, resource, or ministry.
- Description: Bring the whole family to our annual Easter egg hunt! See the excitement and joy in your kids’ eyes as they find bits of hidden treasure, and make friends with other families like yours. Join us Sunday, April 9 at 9 a.m. on the church lawn.
- Tagline: Make new memories this Easter
Visual Identity: How You Want Your Audience to Feel
The visuals you use will drive the audience’s unconscious response.
To craft the event’s visual identity, start by considering how you want your audience to feel about your event, resource, or ministry. We call these “how you should feel” ideas pulse words.
Perhaps you want the audience to feel this way about your Easter egg hunt. (These are your pulse words.):
Use those pulse words to help you make decisions about the visuals. For example:
- Warm hues of your church’s brand colors to convey a sense of welcome
- Bright hues of your church’s brand colors to convey a sense of energy
- Photos of smiling or laughing children from last year’s Easter egg hunt to convey a sense of excitement
Step 3: Think through the Audience Journey
When to start considering the audience journey: 10 weeks before the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
When to have the audience journey set: 8 weeks before the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
The Marketing Funnel
Next, think through the steps your audience will take from hearing about your event, resource, or ministry to actually engaging in the way you want them to.
We call this journey a marketing funnel. It has six steps:
- Awareness: Learning that the thing you are offering exists
- Consideration: Determining whether that thing will meet their needs and is worth their time and money
- Engagement: Not quite committing, but making an effort to learn more
- Conversion: Taking the step you want them to take, such as filling out a sign-up form
- Retention: Maintaining a relationship with your church and an active faith life
- Advocation: Telling other people about the church and their faith
The top of the funnel is wide because a broad range of people will see your initial messaging. As people who aren’t your target audience or who aren’t interested drop off, the funnel narrows. A smaller number of people will come out at the bottom of the funnel as they complete the goal you wanted them to complete.
As your audience tells others about your church during the advocation stage, new people enter the top of the funnel. This is the cyclical nature of word-of-mouth communication.
Here’s what the audience journey could look like for the Easter egg hunt:
- Awareness: Seeing a Facebook ad for your church’s free Easter resource, “10 Ways Families Can Teach Their Kids about Easter at Home”
- Consideration: Clicking on the ad to see more info on your resource’s landing page
- Engagement: Filling out a form to download the free resource
- Conversion: Filling out a form to sign up for the event
- Advocation and retention: Telling other people about the event and actually attending the event themselves, in the broader context of learning about your church and growing in faith
Step 4: Create Specific Marketing Deliverables
When to do start developing deliverables: 7 weeks before the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
When to have deliverables set and ready to launch: 4 weeks before the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
Our Go-To Deliverables
Once you think through the audience journey, you can start considering the specific points along the journey when the audience will interact with your church via your marketing deliverables.
There are endless deliverables you can create, but the most successful ones will be the ones that will work best for your audience. If you’re not sure where to start, here are our go-to deliverables to consider creating:
- Lead magnet
- Landing pages
- Email or text drip campaign
- Organic social posts
- Paid social ads
Lead Magnet: Offer Value for Lower Commitment
A lead magnet is something that gives your audience immediate value and helps them begin to trust your church without making a high-level commitment. A lead magnet could offer information or expertise, such as tips for the audience’s life or faith. Or the lead magnet could offer a portion of a resource, like the first chapter of a book, to entice people to purchase the full resource.
For the Easter egg hunt, the lead magnet is the free resource “10 Ways Families Can Teach Their Kids about Easter at Home.” It helps people see how your church can help them ease their fears by making Easter an event their kids can be involved in.
Once they see how your church can help them in little ways, they’ll be more open to making a larger investment with you, such as giving up time for the Easter egg hunt or the ministry, or by purchasing the full resource.
Landing Pages: Capture Conversions
Create one landing page for your lead magnet and one landing page for the event, resource, or ministry that is at the heart of your church’s marketing campaign.
Each landing page should achieve these three things in this order:
1: Sell the thing you are offering by describing how it will add value to the person’s life. This is where your value propositions will do their work. Place these value propositions at the very top of the page, before you explain the facts like what’s in the lead magnet or the time and place of the event, so you can grab the audience’s attention and entice them to keep moving down the page.
2: Help your audience overcome obstacles to committing by providing all the information they need. Think through your audience’s fears or points of resistance. List some things the audience will find inside the lead magnet. Add an FAQ section covering what to expect, what time to show up, what to wear, and where to park for the event.
3: Let the audience take action. Give one clear next step for the audience to take. Fill out a form to download the lead magnet. Fill out a form to sign up for the event.
Email or Text Drip Campaign: Continue the Relationship
The email or text drip is a series of emails or texts that keeps the audience engaged with your church. They’re little nudges that help you build trust with the audience and encourage them to become advocates by telling other people about your church.
The emails also keep the relationship going after the event or after the audience interacts with your resource so you can draw people further into the life of your church and a fulfilling faith life.
You should create two sequences: one for current church members and one for new people who opt in via your lead-magnet landing page.
Here is a basic three-email or three-text sequence for your current audience.
- Email or text #1: Announce the event, resource, or ministry and highlight its value for particular members of the church.
For the Easter egg hunt, describe the event as family friendly and meant for families with young children to feel like integrated, cared-for members of the church. The call-to-action should be to sign up for the event. (You can also mention the lead magnet, but since these people are already part of your church, the main call-to-action should be to sign up for the event.)
- Email or text #2: Keep the event, resource, or ministry present in members’ minds and continue building excitement for it. Remind people to sign up and to invite their children, grandchildren, friends, or neighbors to your Easter egg hunt.
- Email or text #3: Add urgency and value for the event, resource, or ministry. Say this is the last chance to sign up for the Easter egg hunt. Push the event as an opportunity to make new family memories with photo ops.
Here is a basic three-email or three-text sequence for new opt-ins.
Email or text #1: Acknowledge and thank people for downloading your lead magnet.
At this point, don’t push people to sign up for the Easter egg hunt. Pushing too hard too soon can cause people to feel uncomfortable. Relationships with churches are just like relationships with people: They take time to grow.
Email or text #2: Keep your church present in your audience’s minds and nurture your relationship with them while encouraging them to sign up for the event or ministry.
Since the audience has had time to make use of your lead magnet and see its value, they will be more open to an ongoing relationship with you. This is the point when you can introduce the Easter egg hunt. Sell the event by using your value propositions.
Email or text #3: After the event or after the audience interacts with your ministry or the free portion of your resource, lay out the next steps to continue an ongoing relationship with your church.
This may be inviting people to a worship service on Easter Sunday or other family-friendly events that can meet their needs and help them grow in their faith. You also can ask for feedback on the Easter egg hunt.
Organic Social Posts: Talk to Your People
If your church has channels on several social media platforms, choose the channels your audience participates on the most. If you’re not sure where to start, our go-to for older audiences is Facebook, and our go-to for Millennial and Gen Z audiences is Instagram.
Because organic posts will be seen mostly by your current followers, write these posts for people who are already somewhat familiar with your church.
Social media is a place for your value propositions to shine. Address your audience’s pain points head-on; don’t beat around the bush! You can do this by sharing bits of your lead magnet in your posts to give people immediate value. You can also highlight aspects of the event, resource, or ministry to show how your church is providing a solution to your audience’s needs.
In every social post, link to a landing page, which is the vehicle for driving people further down the funnel.
For example, for the Easter egg hunt:
Post 1: Since your lead magnet includes 10 ways families can teach their kids about Easter at home, share one of those 10 tips in the social post. Link to the lead-magnet landing page to encourage people to download the resource to get more tips.
Post 2: Announce the event as family friendly and meant to further help teach kids about Easter. Share some highlights of the event and connect them to your value propositions. Link to the event landing page to encourage people to sign up for the event.
Post 3: Remind people to sign up and tell others about the event. Link to the event landing page.
Post 4: Remind people who signed up for the event about the time, what to wear, and where to park to keep the event top of mind and encourage them to follow through on their commitment to attend the event.
Post 5: Encourage people to take photos and post them on social media using a specific hashtag to tell others about the value of the event and your church.
Paid Social Ads: Talk to New People
Your paid social ads will be geared toward new people who are not yet followers of your church’s page. The purpose of these ads is to distribute your landing pages and promote awareness among people who are not yet your followers.
As with organic social posts, our go-to platforms are Facebook and Instagram, and you should link to a landing page in every ad.
For example, for the Easter egg hunt:
Ad 1: Share one of the 10 tips from your lead magnet. Link to the lead-magnet landing page to encourage people to download the lead magnet to get more tips.
Ad 2: Announce the event as family friendly and meant for young families who fear their kids missing out on the Easter experience. Link to the event landing page.
Ad 3: Push the event as an opportunity to make new family memories with photo ops. Link to the event landing page.
Step 5: Launch Your Marketing Deliverables
When to start launching deliverables: 3 weeks before the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
When to have deliverables stop going out: A couple days after the event happens or the resource or ministry goes live
Schedule of When Marketing Deliverables Should Go Live
You’ve done all the hard work behind the scenes. Now the easy part comes: shipping your message out to the world! Here’s a basic schedule to follow for when your marketing deliverables should go live.
Three weeks before event happens or resource or ministry goes live
- Launch lead-magnet landing page (and lead magnet)
- Launch event landing page
- Send email or text #1 to current audience
- Set email or text #1 to auto-send when someone opts in via the event landing page
- Post organic social post #1
- Start running social ad #1
Two weeks before
- Send email #2 to current audience
- Post organic social post #2
- Turn off social ad #1
- Start running social ad #2
One week before
- Send email #3 to current audience
- Send email #2 to new opt-ins
- Post organic social post #3
- Turn off social ad #2
- Start running social ad #3
One day before
- Post organic social post #4
- Post organic social post #5
Two days after
- Send email #3 to new opt-ins
Our Biggest and Best Piece of Advice: Plan Ahead
In our years of working with churches, the biggest source of stress we’ve seen about marketing is trying to do it all last minute. Start earlier so you can lower your stress level, think more clearly, and approach your audience more patiently so they feel less threatened.
Look ahead at the rest of 2023. What are your three to five most significant events happening this year? Start ideating and outlining your schedule now so nothing sneaks up on you and you can start marketing your events sooner.
Digital-Marketing Campaign Guide
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