Small churches usually don’t have an advertising budget, or if they do it’s too small to be effective.  But, relax my small-church friend because you don’t need an ad budget.  Here’s why:

  1. Trendwatching.com says that only 13% of consumers admit they buy products because of the ad, and 6% of consumers believe that advertisers lie in their ads.  Nice group to be associated with.
  2. Word-of-mouth is still the strongest way to get your message out.  The new jargon is viral-advertising, which can include stuff like Youtube, blogs, zines, and a bunch of under-the-radar citizen marketer action.  But it’s all the old word-of-mouth, just with different mouths!
  3. The genius of small churches is relationships.  About the last thing you (and I) need is to double our attendance/membership/worship overnight.  Rodney Stark writes in Cities of God that Christianity grew at 3.4% from the beginning.  Could your church do that?  Probably.  A much more absorbable rate of growth for small churches.
  4. You can get enough free “advertising” to get the word out about anything that you’re going to do.  Poster, fliers, tickets (even freebies), handouts, mini-mailings, targeted groups, speaking engagements, phone calls, emails, websites, blogs, free soft-drink company banners, and (do you get the picture?) will be more than enough exposure for your church.  Plus, the old standby — your church sign, if you have one. 

So, be creative.  There is a ton of stuff out there about how to get this kind of exposure, and it’s a lot more fun than paying someone a lot of money to do second-rate advertising, which is what church ads usually are.  Let me know what creative stuff you’re trying and how it’s working.