Best Practices for Easter Church Marketing | Bart & Jason

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Easter is less than 10 weeks away! Has your team started planning? Bart & Jason share best practices to maximize your Easter Marketing.

Podcast Transcription


Easter Marketing Podcast – CO
On this computer. Are you ready, Jason Hamre

At Aetna, is it no? What’s her name, Agatha? Agatha? That’s great,

Agatha. All right. Here we go.

Hey, welcome to the Missional Marketing podcast, I’m Bart Blair, joined as always by Jason Hamrock, and we’re just glad that you tuned in with us today. Our goal is to help your church grow by leveraging digital marketing and effective communications. And today, in this special episode, I call it special because it’s just Jason and me, we’re going to be talking about how you can leverage digital marketing and effective communications to have an amazing Easter experience this year for you, your church, and your community.

Yeah, I’m really excited about this topic because there are two times a year where people will come to church if you invite them, it’s Christmas and Easter. And what’s really exciting, and maybe a little shocking, it could be a little scary, is that by the time this episode drops, it’s going to be like on the February 4th or 5th or something like that, by February 6th, you’re 10 weeks out from Easter. So I hope that doesn’t scare you too much, but you literally have 10 weeks to pull this off or less.

Yeah, the clock is ticking, and, you know, before we started recording, we said, why does it feel like Easter is coming so fast after Christmas this year? Because we actually have a little bit more time, but you know what, time is passing quickly. So, for the sake of time, let’s get into our content today. We want to talk about how you can plan an effective Easter service, and marketing that supports that effective Easter service, that Easter experience, whatever it is that you plan to do with your church.

And so the first thing that I want to kind of pose the question is, what is Easter for your church? Obviously, you’re probably going to have Easter service or services on Easter Sunday, but do you have other activities or events happening in and around the Easter season? Jason, what are some of those things that churches might also do in and around the Easter season?

Well, there’s, I mean, there’s lots to do, right? First, you want to recognize and put together a plan. Ok, so we have a podcast with Ben Stapley, it just dropped, so go check this one out. But Ben suggests that you should be planning for this thing months in advance, so we’re obviously past that. But for Christmas, you should be looking at planning your Christmas pretty soon here. I know it sounds weird…

Easter, Easter.

I know, but I’m talking Christmas.

Do you want to plan Christmas now?

Well, when you get into the summer months, you should be talking about Christmas, Ok? For Easter, you’re already too late, but you get on it now, right? You should be talking about it back in November and December, about Easter. Ok, so because we’re past that, here we are, we’re into February. You know, things that I’m asking about, I’m actually, when I talked to churches about planning for Easter, I consider the three rings to your audience, right? The three rings of people that you should be connecting with, because that helps you understand what is it we’re wanting to do, what is it we’re wanting to do after Easter, and how are we going to track and engage everybody? And so I think about ring one, those are your people, your people go to your church. I think churches make the mistake of always just focusing on inviting their people. Well, yeah, you should do that, but don’t put a ton of effort energy into that because they’re already going to come to your church at Easter time, so you need to make them aware about it. But here’s what I think the better strategy is, use your people to invite and bring their friends and families and neighbors and coworkers and in-laws. that’s what you should be putting your efforts into. Is using your people as your marketing little minions, and they are the ones who can invite and bring friends, and so just by bringing attention and focusing on pouring into your people to invite, they themselves know they’re invited so that that kind of accomplishes that.

In other words, coach and encourage your peeps to invite their peeps at Easter.

That’s right.

Like what I did with that?

Yeah, I love peeps, especially when they’re frozen, oh they are good. Ok, that’s ring one. Ring two, don’t miss this, ring two are people that are looking for a church, right? So throughout the entire year, you should be focusing on people that Google like churches near me, or they’re just looking around for a church. Maybe they’re new to the area, or maybe they got a divorce recently, so somebody has to find a new church, that just happens. But you want to be focused on ring two people that are looking for a church, and again, when do people go to church, the two times in the year? Christmas and Easter? So make sure you’re on it with ring two.

Then there’s Ring three, this is a fun ring that I love talking about, and it’s the people that are searching around for like things to do, stuff to do at Easter time, right? They may or may not be looking for a church, because again, that’s ting two, but they’re always searching on the internet for things to do. And so I love to talk about that, and what that looks like, and what kind of opportunities you can dive into there.

Yeah, I actually kind of asked you a question earlier, and you kind of, I guess you kind of skipped over the question that I asked you.

For a little bit.

So let’s dive in, let’s dive into that. Not everyone is looking for an Easter church service, but there is an opportunity for you to reach and connect with people in your community around Easter. Because even though Easter isn’t necessarily a faith-based holiday for everyone, most people in our Western culture acknowledged Easter in some capacity. Even if it’s pure on bunnies and eggs, they’re having some kind of Easter celebration. So, you know, when we talk about promoting or connecting with people in your community, there are going to be some people who are truly looking for a worship experience on Easter Sunday, right? Your ring one people, many of your ring two people. But when you talk about ring three, people who are kind of just looking for stuff to do, maybe it’s things like an Easter egg hunt or an Easter egg drop. Maybe it’s some kind of Spring Festival that your church might do, something that you can do that’s an outdoor event, Family Day. I know churches that will do like an Easter weekend family day type of event, with games and activities and things that kind of don’t necessarily lean into the eggs and bunny aspect of Easter, but it provides people in your community something to do that’s fun and engaging, all kinds of stuff like that.

Yeah, I’ve got a church we work with, they do a car show every year.

A car show?

It’s a big hit, and they always do it like the week before Easter, because you don’t really want to compete with Easter weekend. And so their car show, the week before Easter, brings a lot of people. And while they’re there, because they have all kinds of things for, it’s not just a car show, it’s like that and a family event, things to do for kids, and moms, and dads. But that’s where they make a great introduction to the church, and invite them next week. And like you said, you know, egg drops or Easter egg hunts. I’ve got a church in Pennsylvania, that they are a smaller church, right, so they run a couple of hundred people, they decided to do their activities the week before. They don’t want to be competing with all the other churches on that Saturday before Easter, so the week before on Saturday, they’re going to have their Easter egg hunt. Kind of a cool idea, because then that gives them that whole week to connect with those people and invite them to church on that following Sunday. So you want to be really strategic in what you’re thinking about there, look around to see what other churches might be doing. And those are, like what you just mentioned, those are low, easy, low-hanging fruit opportunities to bring people onto your campus and get to know them.

Yeah, I think that the key here is, going back to kind of the start when I kick things off is, you need to know what you plan to market. If you’re going to develop a marketing plan, you need to know what you’re planning to market, and who the audience is that you’re trying to reach. So as you’re planning Easter, we know Easter Sunday is an event, and that’s something that you want to communicate to people in your community, your ring one, your ring two, maybe your ring three. But as you’re looking at opportunities to engage and connect to the community, you have those ring three connection points, you need to make sure that you’re marketing those things as well.

Now, speaking of marketing, Jason, one of the things that churches ask us all the time is questions about their budget. How do I know what to budget? What should I budget? When should I budget if I’ve got Easter stuff? Here’s a question that I’ve had several churches ask me here in just the last couple of weeks, how much money should I spend advertising my Sunday morning worship service on Easter Sunday versus how much should I spend advertising the outreach event that I’m going to do, that’s on the Saturday before or the weekend before? There’s a tension there, right? What are your thoughts or your advice on that?

Yeah, there’s a reality and that is you have a budget. So when you talk about budget planning, you know, obviously this isn’t the time of year to be thinking about the budget, but what I would be talking about is, what would you do with those funds if they were given to you? Right? And I always coach up churches to say, when you go ask for more money, don’t just say, hey, I like to have a bump in my budget. Why? I don’t know, I might do something with it. Don’t do that, actually go there with a plan. I plan on doing a, b, and C, and here’s a result of if we do a B and C, we think we can do this and get this many people to engage. So think through that, and I would love to coach you up on that, that’s fun to talk about. But when you think about kind of that pull between, how much do we invest in the actual Sunday services, or maybe you do Saturday and Sunday services versus that event, I tend to lean more heavier on the event. Remember, you’ve got a built-in marketing engine, they sit in your seat every weekend, and those people should be bringing at least one person, right, that alone would double. So you’re going to get your ring one people, you know, everybody is going to come to your church on the weekend, right, that’s a big deal, they come Christmas and Easter, so your people are going to help to fill that up. So you want to add more services, and you want them to bring their friends.

So, you know, when I talk about that, you still want to advertise for it. So let’s, you know, on a percentage level, I might spend like, you know, 30 to 40 percent advertising the weekend, and that’s debatable on what you might want to spend there, plus the platforms. But then I would probably spend the rest of it inviting people to that fun, very easy to attend event, that’s not very threatening. You’ve got to remember, if people are de-church or unchurched, there’s probably a reason. And so their first interaction with you just might be on the campus having a good time with the family, and they’re like, huh, it’s kind of a cool place and these people seem normal, right? That might be the first step they need to take to go, let’s go back, you know, the next Sunday to Easter or sometime in the future. So I probably would break it up maybe 60/40 or 70/30.

Ok, I’m with you on that, I think 60/40 is typically what I would do. I would also say, though, as it relates to outreach events, those connection points, those easy on-ramp events that people in your community can attend, in addition to getting people on your site or on your campus or wherever you’re planning to have the event, it’s really important to make sure that you have some strategic plan for a next step for those people. So, the next step may not be show up to church on Sunday morning. If you’re doing, I’ll use Easter Egg Hunt because we know a lot of churches that do an Easter Egg Hunt, and you’re doing an Easter egg hunt on, say, Palm Sunday, or the Saturday before Easter, or two Saturdays before Easter, a lot of those people who are part of your community are not ready for church, hey, but they might be ready for VBS, which is coming six weeks later. And that might be a great opportunity for you to be promoting Vacation Bible school at that event, rather than promoting your Sunday morning worship services, or maybe you’re going to have some sort of parenting seminar, or something I see some churches doing, and a lot of other community organizations doing, is they will bring a professional in to do a workshop on a Saturday morning on how to keep your kids safe online. And you might be offering a free workshop at your church, like on the Saturday after Easter, or two weeks after Easter, at that Easter egg hunt. You know you’ve got families, you know, you’ve got kids, you can give people a next step for engagement with you that something that might not necessarily be Sunday morning worship.

Yeah, and I always caution churches, to be mindful of who is at that event. So if it’s younger families, probably, then invite them to the next younger family event, don’t give them the whole smorgasbord of we’ve got 15 things to choose from. I always use the analogy of Cheesecake Factory, they have a book as a menu, like I’m more of an In-N-Out guy, or a Chick-Fil-A guy, I just I’ll take that, you know? I think the same thing, if you give too many options, people are going to be like, nah, nah, I’m not choosing any of it. But if you invite me to one or two things that are relevant to my family, then yes, that’s what you should be putting in their hands, or inviting them via email, if you captured an email address, to the next thing. And of course, you want to invite them to church, but I think it’s a given, they know they’re invited to church, you still probably want to say that, but don’t go so extreme to create like a 12-page brochure for all the things that you and your family can do at our church. Do not do that.

Yeah. And I do want to move on to the next point that we want to talk on, but I will say this, if you have a thousand people, show up for your Easter egg hunt on the Saturday before Easter, don’t be disappointed when those people don’t all show up at your church service. I’m just going to leave that there.

Ok, so you know, 60/40 split, 50/50 split, 70/30 split, we’ve taken our budget, we know what we’re going to market, what we’re going to promote. The next question, Jason, is, you know, how am I going to market what I want to market? What are the methods? What are the platforms that are most effective for me when I’m trying to reach the people in my community?

Well, I kind of put it in this pecking order, I’m obviously a big fan of Facebook, social media, you should be advertising in that space. Yes, it does kind of skew a little older, more female, but you can reach a lot of people using Facebook, and certainly Instagram, and Instagram Reels and all that kind of stuff. But I’m also a big fan of Google, not just necessarily Google search, but Google Display Network. You can use the Google Display network to advertise on all kinds of different websites, and games, and apps, and geo-target your area. Though Facebook and Google Display Network are really two incredibly powerful popular platforms to advertise in, but I also would include Instagram because you can do Instagram Reels, and that gets a lot of traction. And, you know, Tik Tok is coming around, but I would not also dismiss YouTube ads because those are, I mean, tons of people use YouTube and you can get an advertisement in front of them, an invitation in front of them. So I definitely would put money into interruptive advertising, that’s what we call it around here, interruptive advertising on social media or on Google. Then the next thing I would do is Google search, right, people are searching in Google, they’re looking for a church, ring two, or they’re looking for things to do. And so you want to make sure that you don’t leave out Google search as an option as well.

Yeah, I would say this, you know, running ads on interruptive platforms is one of the easiest, cost-effective ways of running ads. Our experience has been that Google Display Network will get you a slightly more diverse audience between male and female, and it tends to skew a little younger than Facebook. Facebook clickers, ad clickers on Facebook, not all Facebook users, but Facebook ad clickers tend to be women in their fifties or older. And if that’s your target, if you’re trying to reach, you know, moms of teenagers, or you’re trying to reach grandmothers who you think might have some influence on bringing their kids and their grandkids to church, it’s a great place to be. The reality is, you can’t avoid Facebook because so many people are on Facebook. But also with those interruptive ads, you should also have a very, very robust and strategic organic social media strategy. You need to be posting consistent content, not just invitations, not just information, but creating content that inspires people and tells stories and gives them a reason to join you on Easter Sunday or for your Easter events. Don’t just use Facebook as a billboard, use it as a way of communicating to people how their life can be impacted by a connection with Jesus in and through your church. So I would say those two things need to work together, you’re paid interruptive, as well as your organic social media strategy.

Yeah, and then I also don’t want to discount the traditional methods, right? So I love invitation cards. You know, you can print a card that has Easter information on there, and perf right down the middle, and you tell your congregation break that in half, right, and you keep one and then you go invite somebody else with the other one, and so that’s a good strategic move because you want to be utilizing that. Or any kind of billboards, or you know, newspaper, I know that some of that is getting kind of old, but it can still be effective if your budget is big enough. If it’s not big enough, I would focus on digital first. Yeah, that’s what I would do.

Yeah, I agree. It’s not that we completely, that we’ve gone anti-billboard or anti-print material. I, personally, I would almost always print an invitation card that can be used in house. I wouldn’t mail them, I’m not personally big on mailing because it’s cost-prohibitive in some cases, it’s a shotgun blast that you don’t really know if you’re going to have any return on it. It’s not very ecologically sound to print thousands upon thousands of postcards, and many of the people that you’re trying to reach, they’re thinking about those things. But I love to have a tool that I can put in the hands of the people in my church to actually use as an invitation, so I think that’s an important point there.

So, Jason here’s the deal, this is something I wanted to camp on for a couple of minutes here, and that is once I’ve built my ad campaign in Facebook or Google Display or YouTube, once I’ve printed my card, where am I sending people for the information that they need about my Easter services or my Easter events? Where am I sending them, and what information do I need to provide them?

Ideally, a landing page on your website, not your home page, and force them then to find it, but actually like an Easter landing page on your website. It’s really important that if I’m interested in coming to your event, I want to learn more, don’t make me have to think and click around to find it. They will not. They’ll bounce, so send them straight to an Easter landing page, where on that landing page, a lot of great options, right? First of all, invite them, you’re invited to Easter at our church, whatever. I’m a big fan of putting a video on there, not a high-end, you know, crazy, expensive video, I’m talking just maybe an iPhone recording of your pastor just inviting them and telling them that they are highly valued and you want to invite them, and here’s what we’re going to do, and all the cool stuff for the kids, and we promise that you’ll have a good time. I mean, just something simple like that. Obviously, all the details, it’s crazy how often we’ll overlook that, or we’ll just make it small and insignificant. Now you’ve got to be really careful, you’ve got to make sure they see exactly what’s going on, the who, what, where, when, why, especially what’s in it for kids?

I’m also a big fan of other buttons, that you could, hey, learn more about our kid’s ministry around here, or maybe there are links to other things that might be relevant to kids. We were just mentioning it, maybe VBS is coming up, learn more about VBS. But you want to be very careful of simply making sure they are invited to your Easter services. Lately, because of COVID and whatnot, a lot of churches will put an RSVP. That’s really cool, they can just send like how many people in their party, their name, and their email, right, and you’ve just captured some information. And so some people will RSVP, and you’re not given a ticket, it’s more about we just want to know, have a count on, who is coming, and so I’m a huge fan of RSVP.

And then there’s this other huge opportunity, Bart, you can talk about it, it’s this idea of creating a little bit of gated content so they can download something that’s of value to them, and you can advertise that. Do you want to talk about the kit?

Yeah, absolutely, a couple of ideas. You know, one of the things that we get asked all the time is, OK, great, we spent five hundred dollars or a thousand dollars on Facebook ads, and we had all these people click to our website, who are they and how can we know them? And it’s a problem that we, in the church world, we want to solve, the business world has actually solved it. They have this thing that they typically refer to as lead generators, a lead generator is a piece of content that’s on a business’s website that is of interest to someone who might be interested in their particular product or service, and you can download it in exchange for your name and your email address. Maybe you’re looking for, you know, investing tips, and so you go to a website and there’s like, hey, we’ve got a PDF, a free PDF and it’s the top 10 investments that you should make if you’re starting your retirement plan at the age of 50. Not saying that I’ve been on any of those websites lately, but maybe I have, and I want that information, so I’m going to give them my email address and my name so that I can get that PDF download.

Well, we had a church that experimented with this at Christmas, and now we’re seeing some churches explore more opportunities like this around Easter, with things like maybe an activity kit, an activity kit like a PDF that maybe has some coloring pages or some Easter recipes or a list of activities or events in your community, including your own events that you’re holding, and you have this on the landing page in exchange for an email address and a name. We can actually run those ads right through Facebook, so Facebook actually collects the information for you and then you get those email addresses. I don’t think I told you about this, Jason, but one of our church partners in Ohio has a Lent journal that they have produced, and during the Lenten season, they’re actually running ads so that people can download the Lenten Journal in exchange for their email address. Now. obviously, someone who’s interested in this Lent journal is probably going to be somebody who might be interested in church already. they’re at least interested in practicing Lent or learning more about it, so they’re already maybe spiritually open, maybe already a Christian person. But as soon as the Lent season is done and they move to advertising Easter, they’re going to change that download from the Lent journal right to an Easter activity kit, which would be something that would be engaging more to people who might not be ready for faith yet, but they want some Easter Bunny coloring pages for their kids to color or what have you. So, it’s a great way for you to not just get clicks to your website, but get clicks from people who raise their hand and say, this is who I am and I’m interested in this thing. And then from there, we want to build a nurture campaign and an email platform that sends them three or four or five emails, inviting them to upcoming events and other activities. We’re not going to put them on our permanent E-news where we’re going to email you every single week, you know, kind of newsletter email list, but we are going to email them a few invitations to Easter, or to VBS, or whatever is appropriate, given the type of content that you’ve provided for them. And I think, you know, adding RSVP to this type of engagement gives us the opportunity now to say, hey, we’ve got people clicking to our website who are interested in whatever it is that we’re offering, and we can now start a relationship with them, at least through email, because they’ve raised their hand and said that that’s OK.

Yeah, we tried this, like you said, and it was overwhelmingly successful, we generated a lot of brand new emails for the church, of people who are interested in what we had to offer. And it’s kind of common sense, if they’re a Christmas activity kit or an Easter activity kit, there are probably families. This is probably the mom or the dad of a young family, so you follow up and invite them to the next thing, you’re developing a relationship. And we can take a page out of the big box marketing strategy on how they do it, and we at the church can do the same thing. And I tell you that this lead generator thing is, it’s not a bad word, it’s not a bad thing to do, it’s actually connecting with people and inviting them to something that is incredibly meaningful, right? It’s the most important thing you can be inviting them to is, which is the next thing at your church and to get them connected to Jesus. So hands down, you really want to be focused on doing something like that this year.

Yeah, I think it’s really a great tool, and if you are listening to or watching this podcast and you have questions, make sure that you reach out to Jason or me and we can dive into this in more detail with you to explain how it works and how your church might be able to use something like this.

Ok, we’re going to wrap up, but I have one bonus tip. Ok, can I give my bonus tip?

Go for it.

I’ve been holding out on to this, Ok. For all churches, everywhere around the globe, always, always, always, post your Easter events and your services on your Google my business page or what is now called your Google business profile. Most of you aren’t using your Google my business for anything, but at the very least you can create events in your Google my business and you can post your Easter services, Easter events, and Easter activities. And here’s why this is important because when people get online and they google things like Easter activities near me, your activity has a better chance of showing up in those events, in those returns, those search returns, if you have posted your event on your Google My Business. It gives you better local SEO juice because Google loves it when you play in Google’s sandbox, so do it. It doesn’t cost you anything. And here’s another thing that doesn’t cost you anything, speaking of RSVPs, post your event on platforms like Eventbrite and All Events, they’re free, you don’t have to pay anything to post them there, and people use Eventbrite and All events listings to find activities and things that are going on in their community. And, you also will show up in Google search returns because those websites are optimized to show events and activities in the community when people are searching for events and activities in their community, it costs you nothing. This is what I call passive marketing, just putting it on my Google My Business page, putting it on all events, putting it on Eventbrite, and more and more people can find what I have to offer from my church as they’re looking on the internet for stuff, for their families to do, or places to worship, stuff like that. So, that’s my bonus tip, I hope that you will take it, Jason, any parting shots here?

No, just get after it, you know, I mean this is the time of year, there are two times a year that you want to have your game on, this is one of them. So if you ever need any help, and any free advice, reach out to Bart or myself, we’d love to talk with you and give you some tips. So. Happy Easter!

Absolutely. Hey, thanks so much for tuning in, if you’ve gotten all the way here to the end, we really appreciate that. If you haven’t left a rating or review on whatever platform that you consume this content, we’d appreciate you doing that, and make sure that you subscribe so that you don’t miss any of our other upcoming episodes. We appreciate you all, we know that the work that you’re doing is hard work sometimes, and we do pray for you. Believe it or not, we pray for the churches we get a chance to work with because we really want to see God’s Kingdom be built, and we know that the local church is really instrumental in that. So thanks again for tuning in, and until next time, this is Bart and we’re out.

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