In part one of this three part series, Pastor Paul Wirth of Relevant Church detailed how 65%-70% of the members of his church have come via the Internet. In the second part of my interview with Pastor Wirth, he explained how multiple layers of church marketing – online and offline – complement each other and proved to be much more effective.
Part 2 – Marketing on Multiple Levels
Kurt: You mentioned you use billboards and yard signs as well as websites and Adwords in your church marketing campaigns, can you tell us more about the various marketing ideas you use?
Pastor Wirth: Quite frankly, yard signs are probably the number one way that we actually get people to come to our church. They see that, which just has a web address on it. They go to the web address, find out about our church, and then come and visit. That is the one thing that we have been marketing the most as far as guests coming through the doors. It was yard signs via Internet.
We’ve found out with the yard signs that we don’t put a lot of information on it. I think sometimes people in marketing try to put too much information on a billboard or on a sign that they put out and people, if they are traveling at 40 miles an hour, they don’t have enough time to read everything.
Kurt: That’s true
Pastor Wirth: We try to make it minimal, eye-catching, have it drive them somewhere where they can get the information that we want them to get. So, I think that’s where you have to be really creative about the way you market. We try to be creative on the websites that we pick or the series that we do.
Kurt: So, it gives them enough to get their attention and get them to go and give them enough information so they know where to go, but not give them too much.
Pastor Wirth: It’s a hook. That’s basically what it is, a hook.
Kurt: So, you said that you’ve had a lot of online marketing that you’ve done. What are some of the other things you done with online marketing. Have you optimized your sites for the search engines?
Pastor Wirth: Yeah, we do all of the above. I’m not the guy who handles all that stuff. I’m just the pastor. So, I don’t handle a lot of our online stuff, but we do the multiple layers. So, we do optimization and all of stuff gets taken care of through our web guy and he’s out of state. He’s actually in Georgia in Atlanta. You can pretty much type in “Relevant Church”, “Relevant Church Ybor”, “Tampa Churches” and those kinds of things and most of the time our listing will rise to the top on just about every search engine. We just believe in multiple layers. So, we’ve done MySpace Ads and other Internet stuff. We own probably 30 different websites. We’ll do a series and create a website just for that series and then market the heck out of it. It kinda layers into what people start knowing what Relevant is.
Kurt: Really none of these marketing elements are working independently. They are all interlinked.
Pastor Wirth: Yeah, it’s multiple layers. If you talk to any marketing person they will tell you that if you choose to do one layer of marketing, you will get a minimal response. If you do multiple layers of marketing, you increase you chances of being seen exponentially. So, usually we try to do five layers of marketing with anything we do. If we’re going to do a series, we’ll do a billboard maybe, we’ll do yard signs, a web address…if we’re really trying to promote it. We usually do that four times a year where we’re really trying to push it. We’ll do invite cards which our people give to other people and they have web address on it and maybe a little more information. And we may put up a banner or invite on MySpace or Facebook. We just try to make sure there are 5 layer of marketing.
Kurt: It sounds like you’re saying that having the multiple levels of marketing is the key. Spending a little extra money to include additional layers ends up making a huge difference in the impact of the marketing.
Pastor Wirth: And that’s why we choose not to do it for everything. About four times a year we say, man, this is a huge growth month…You have to know the growth cycle of your church to know that, ok we grow in this month, but this month we don’t grow so much. A church needs to be tracking their attendance so they know when they see spikes in their attendance. If you see spikes in your attendance in certain months, then you need to market to those months. If you can maximize that marketing during the natural growth patterns that the church has, then you can see those number grow more rapidly then they would if you weren’t doing anything. So, that’s why we target certain times of the year and we say “We want to do a billboard this time. We want to do yard signs this time. We want to do invite cards this time and we want to put MySpace and Facebook ads up this time.” So, we do that, but we are strategic about when we do it, how we do it, and what the series is that we do during that time. During those times we try to make sure we hit felt-need, serious things. Because people who don’t usually come to church, they don’t necessarily want to come and hear the four spiritual laws and they don’t want to talk about eschatology, but they do want to talk about, “How am I going to make it in my relationship that I have with my girlfriend or my boyfriend or my husband or my wife?” They want to know, ‘How do I deal with the stress at my work? Work is tough, man. How do I deal with that?” You have to hit on topics where they go, “Man, I would like some answers to this and I didn’t know that God had the answers to that.”