One of the most important strategies in marketing is trying to ride the wave of what everyone is supposedly thinking about, looking for or doing in a given moment.
Similarly, you can boost your success and your church’s relevance if your messaging really resonates with whatever is happening.
Churches generally do a great job with this around Easter, but there are many other times every year when just the right message, event or invitation can have a big impact.
Here are three ideas that might help you ride the wave.
Capitalize on self-improvement resolutions
For many retailers, Black Friday and the holiday shopping season is the most critical time of the year. But for gyms, it is January. That’s because every January, many people resolve to start working out.
If your church has ever considered offering a sermon series on health, holding a class to help people get fit or hosting a health fair, the time to do so is January. You will have a greater chance of reaching new people and engaging existing members if you are mindful of seasonality.
Launch a vacation photo campaign
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Summer months can be a roller coaster for church attendance and engagement. Between camps and family vacations, summer can be a time of disconnection for many churches. Even those with a creative summer message series can fall victim to this busy travel season. Instead of fighting against travel and vacation schedules, lean into them. Try inviting people to take part in a photo challenge or photo campaign while they are away.
Some churches have had success with the Flat Wesley photo challenge that plays off the Flat Stanley book series for children. Have church members print out a cartoon version of John Wesley, attach it to a tongue depressor or Popsicle stick and then invite them to take “Flat Wesley” with them on their summer travels.
Encourage them hold up Wesley and take a picture of him whenever they stop at a new or interesting place. It could be in the mountains, on a beach towel or even stopping for gas during the road trip. Have them post the picture and tag the church or use a well-crafted hashtag so members stay connected even when they are not at church.
If you have creative people in your congregation, consider creating an animated character out of your logo for a custom version of the Flat Wesley idea. Monitor your hashtags and re-share those posts through your official church page!
Create a special try-us-out Sunday
Late summer and early fall, as families get back to school and work, can be another time when there is a wave of flux and reevaluation.
This can be a time when people make critical decisions after settling into new communities. This is a great time for churches to introduce themselves anew to their communities and extend invitations.
A well-advertised, well-planned try-us-out Sunday campaign can attract new visitors and let the surrounding community see the church at its best.
To create an extended opportunity for interaction, offer a free kid-friendly lunch in the parking lot after church. Add features such as an inflatable or two to help communicate your family-friendly personality and offer an opportunity to have conversations with visitors in more casual settings.
To make this strategy soar, ensure that visitors feel seen and welcomed. Enlist staff and members to mingle with visitors. Have them get to know visitors and their circumstances to see how best your church can meet their needs.
Whether it’s self-improvement in January or a strategic, visitor-focused Sunday in August, paying attention to cultural moments is key to making a big impact with your marketing.
Jeremy Steele is the associate pastor at Los Altos UMC in Los Altos, California, as well as a writer and speaker. You can find a list of all his books, articles and resources for churches, including his most recent book All the Best Questions, at his website: JeremyWords.com.