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Advertising and Sales

Once upon a time I worked in retail management, a very cut-throat business.  During that time, I learned two important things regarding people:  you have to get them into your store (advertising), and then give them a reason to keep coming back (sales).  Although it is sad to think we have to deal with this in religion, well, we do!  For a congregation to thrive, people need to come in the door and see a reason to stay.


We advertise a number of ways.  We have space in the church directory section of the Topeka Capital Journal.  We are in the phone book.  You can find us online at sites like yellowpages.com and Yelp.  We have a presence on Facebook (I’m not so sure about Twitter or if anybody sends out any official tweets from our parish).

Another way to draw people in is our signage.  As most should be aware, we have taken a major step forward in that arena.  We recently replaced the antique wooden sign on 17th street that catastrophically broke over the winter.  This summer we will get rid of the old faded sign at the east of the building fronting Gage Boulevard and replace it with an electronic sign that will be at the corner of 17th and Gage.  All of this is nice, but signage is only effective if somebody happens to be driving by, or is not familiar with the area and is looking for us specifically.

Online presence helps, and we can track various statistics using those methods.  We have analytics that show us what drives people to our web site, including search results and social media campaigns.  This is useful information to help us tailor our approach, surely, but we are so far skipping the best form of advertising:  word of mouth.  Inviting people to come visit us.  I did a blog recently on evangelizing, and personal invitation is just that.  It is probably the most effective form of advertising we can do!

 

   

All this is the advertising – getting people through our doors.  Up next is sales – how do we bring them into our fold?  Retail is carefully designed to direct you through the store and maximize how much money can be extracted from a person without stopping them from coming back in the future.  That is not the sales we need to concentrate on when trying to bring people into our flock!

To keep them coming back, we need a fully engaged welcome.  Greeters at the door with a smiling face, ready to answer questions, and/or provide them with a welcome bag.  Somebody to ask them (nicely) if they would be willing to fill out the welcome card and what to do with it afterwards.  Ushers to provide them with orders of service and answer any questions regarding what happens once the service starts.  Parish members who will engage the newcomers with smiling faces and welcomes.  Depending on what service we are speaking of, walking them down to breakfast, and sitting with them and engaging them is a huge thing!  Let them know of all the ministry opportunities we present so they can consider what best fits them!

When I first came to Topeka, I found local Episcopal churches on the Internet.  I attended Grace Cathedral and felt snubbed as nobody seemed to want to speak with or recognize me.  The next weekend I came to St. David’s and was greeted no less than 3 different times.  I was hooked.  I had found my new spiritual home.

So let’s remember that advertising may get somebody to visit us – but SALES is up to us.  We need to engage to keep them coming back week after week, and that will be a key to keeping our parish thriving!


Bryan Irvine
Website Adminstrator
Building Manager

 

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