Church Marketing Tips - God’s 4 Step Marketing Process
Marketing Like God
Biblical Marketing Principles for Effective Church Advertising
God’s 4 -Step Marketing Process from Exodus 3
If you do a word search in the Bible for the words marketing or advertising, it will yield no results. With all the divine wisdom held in those pages, why aren’t these words found? Is God saying, Do not advertise? And particularly, Don’t market the church?
Leaders from today’s most influential churches share their wisdom during general sessions. Speakers challenge and equip leaders to be catalysts in today’s generation.
Many Christians reject the very idea of marketing when it comes to the church. They see it as a waste of church resources, believing that people will simply find their way into our churches through divine guidance.
But before we embrace that mindset, let’s take a closer look at what marketing is all about.
A few thousand years ago, God used a 4-step marketing process to get Moses to obey His will. And businesses are still using this exact same 4-step process—from Madison Avenue marketing gurus to your neighborhood pizza parlor. While they may not be giving God the credit, He actually originated the idea. The proof is in the scriptures; we just need to look for it.
Let’s take a quick look at the process, then go to the book of Exodus and find the earliest example.
Effective marketing can be divided into four tasks:
1. Capture Attention
Before you can offer solutions, services, or products you must first gain the attention of your audience. If you don’t do this first step, the whole process fails.
A common misconception is that “sex sells”. Sex sells nothing; it captures people’s attention. Have you ever wondered why you keep seeing commercials pushing the limits of censorship with risqué and even violent images? Unfortunately, it’s because our society has become so desensitized that advertisers and marketers must continue to increase the shock-value to get our attention.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m not condoning the use of violence or risqué images. But I do suggest thinking outside the box a little …
I once saw a church marketing piece that featured a graphic of a man’s large, muscular, tattooed arm (the tattoo was the church’s logo) coupled with a message that said “All of God’s people are welcome here ”. I was later told it was one of the most successful campaigns they’ve run. They thought out of the box—untypical for “churchy” advertising. This may not be the message that reflects the personality of your congregation. But there is certainly something unique about your church. Share it through your advertising! Don’t be afraid to push the limits; you might just reach people on a whole new level.
2. Engage the Audience
Once you’ve got people’s attention, you must keep it long enough to educate them on what your product or service has to offer. It is important that these steps are carried out in the correct order. The term attention span refers to how long someone will stay engaged. A great attention-getting image or headline may work at first, but you still need to engage your audience—hold their attention.
3. Educate the Audience
This is where you present the benefits of your product and guarantee that it will make the reader’s life better. You establish the need—and then meet the need with a solution. For example, you can probably remember viewing an ad for some product you felt no need for—and then after 60 seconds discovered you couldn’t live without it. That’s effective marketing. But if the advertisers hadn’t kept your attention, they wouldn’t have been able to establish a need and pitch the solution.
4. Call to Action
This is the point where marketers urge their audience to Buy Now or Call Today. If they have done their job correctly, they’ve captured the audience’s attention, engaged them long enough to educate them on the benefits, and created a need for the product. And now the listener or reader is ready to bite. All he needs is a way to respond—a call to action.
There really are only 4 reasons why people don’t buy a particular product or service:
1. No Need. The customer hasn’t been convinced that the product or service will benefit them. .
2. No Money. This is usually just an excuse. If people really want something, they find a way to afford it!
3. No Time. The benefit of the product/service is not worth the amount of time it would take to obtain it.
4. No Trust. They don’t believe it will do what it promises to do.
Savvy marketing, advertising, and salespeople will intentionally address each of these issues in order to sell the potential prospect.
As a church marketer, it’s important that you always consider these issues in your campaigns. Specifically, keep in mind the issues of need, time, and trust (and, even money at times). How can your church successfully address these issues?
Now that we understand what marketing is, let’s look at the Bible and see how God used this 4-step process to get Moses to follow His will.
Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3)
Here, God uses the first step in the marketing process: He captures Moses’ attention with the burning bush.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father -in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. (God captures his attention) So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’ (Exodus 3:1-3)
I don’t know about you, but a bush burning on the side of a mountain would be a huge attention-getter for me.
Once God gets Moses’ attention, he then uses the second step in the marketing process: He engages Moses.
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3:4)
After God has Moses’ attention and has begun to engage him, He then uses the third step in the marketing process: He educates Moses on who He is.
“Do not come any closer,”’ God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.” (Exodus 3:-5-9)
God then uses the fourth step in the marketing process: He tells him what to do, or makes him an offer. God presents Moses with a call to action!
“So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)
We can analyze story after story and see that God systematically used the principles of marketing to accomplish what He desired. If these principles are good enough for God to use in building his Kingdom, then they should be good enough for today’s church.
So, how can the church apply these principles today in the form of marketing?
A Current Example
Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, offers a vivid example of how we can use the four steps effectively in a church marketing and advertising campaign:
Capture the Audience’s Attention. In the case of The Purpose Driven Life, the strong title and the intriguing graphic of a tree (possibly inspired by the biblical tree of life or a symbol of growth), create an attention-getting cover. Both elements combine to imply that there is something greater to achieve in life. Readers are attracted to the message from the first glance. While the graphic design alone is not the most attention-grabbing element, take note of the power of words combined with an intentional graphic subtext!
Engage the Reader. The subtitle is “Discover Your Purpose in 40 Days.” After the title has grabbed the readers’ attention, the subtitle holds it, engaging them with a promise: discovery of purpose in 40 days!
Educate the Reader. After the subtitle has engaged the reader, it also serves a secondary purpose. It establishes a need—the discovery of one’s purpose! The title implies that we need to discover our purpose. With the title and subtitle together, readers have a basic knowledge of what’s inside. They have been educated. Now they can turn to the table of contents to become further educated on how this book can help them fulfill their needs.
Call to Action! If you were preaching a series based on The Purpose Driven Life, you might use the following as a call to action: “I would like to invite you personally to join us this Sunday when we will help you discover your purpose and dramatically improve your life over the next 40 days.”
Don’t miss the opportunity to call your audience to action! You might invite them to take the action-step of making a phone call to your office, or visiting your church website, or visiting the church, or attending an event. Just be sure you don’t leave them stranded without an action-step! If they’ve paid attention to your efforts thus far, they want to take action. Tell them how!
Marketing is a science, equally applicable to churches as to any other product, service, or business. It doesn’t have to be a guessing game. When you implement them correctly, these well-thought-out steps can give you the results you desire.
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