Creativity for the Creator
We don’t usually think of Easter as the most important marketing holiday of the year. But for one category, it is the mecca of marketing. Easter (or as I like to call it: “the Black Friday of church shopping”) can actually teach us several lessons beyond the baskets of marshmallow candy and hidden egg hunts (not that I’d turn down either of those things). Maybe you’ve never thought about the marketing need for present-day congregations, but I guarantee that the congregations in our communities are thinking about it. In the end, there’s more than one parallel between evangelism and marketing, and we can certainly learn things from each other.
So, what can churches teach us as marketers (especially when churches are technically selling a product that doesn’t even belong to them)? A lot actually. Because churches may not have their own unique product on the shelf, they’re selling an emotional connection (in a way). People can receive God from anywhere they want, but convincing someone to come into your location or to donate money? Now that requires the best of emotional marketing. You have to engage with your visitors either through tradition, non-tradition, style of music, or some other factor that creates a valuable connection between the church and the visitor.
Let’s take Long Hollow Baptist Church, here in Nashville, just as an example. Now, I’ve never visited this church or known anyone who attends it, but I just may have to do so after their latest stunt.
In preparation for the clutter of congregations this Easter season, this one church has chosen to go after the holy grail of prospective members. Millenials. And they have done so in an oh, so interesting way. Included is the launch of a slick mini-site complete with a video about a (fictional?) character named Phillip Randoll who leaves puzzles (with prizes!) within his blog posts. Each one leaves the audience digging a little deeper for answers about the church and about this Phillip Randoll. To get the full story, it sounds like I’ll just have to visit the church this Easter Sunday to see what it’s all about. The site only goes deep enough to leave me wanting more. If you want to see for yourself, check out www.whoisphilliprandoll.com.
From a marketing perspective, this is the best example of church marketing that I’ve experienced from an individual church in a while (if not ever). Too, millenials respond well to this sort of online engagement campaign which intrigues while staying more light-hearted than what they might normally expect from a church. I expect to see various congregations (and other local advertisers for that matter) making similar adaptations to court millenials in the near future.