You don’t need an ad budget!


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. 

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4 Comments

  1. We had something like this happen. A young couple volunteered to lead a program called “Financial Peace University”. Chuck, you having spent time in Nashville, I’m sure you know that’s a Dave Ramsey curriculum.

    It requires people to pay for a curriculum kit costing about $100.

    Using free publicity only the class was able to attract 15 paying families that meant access to 25+/- new people. Most have a church, but some don’t.

    Doing serveral semesters of this will be required to see it build the church but it builds our network of contacts in the community and gives us a chance to serve some new people.

  2. Chuck in TN, this is my point exactly. For a small church to attract 25 new people is phenomenal. If that were our church, the percentage increase would be 25% — for free! Two years ago we did a series of three direct mail pieces with a total cost of over $7500, and they produced nothing, zero. We attract new folks best by word of mouth here, so I’m glad to hear it works in TN, too. Thanks for your thoughts. — Chuck W.

  3. One of the things I forgot to mention is that since Dave Ramsey is on national radio, I think that created lots of buzz. People in the community would meet us on the street and say “we heard about Dave Ramsey’s program coming to your church.”

    In a way we harnessed his popularity and “brand”…which the staff at Dave’s office was very happy to hear.

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