Seth Godin wrote a great post this week about the “About” tag on websites, called “Five rules  for your About page.”

It’s 5 simple rules, but they speak volumes:

1.  Don’t use marketing jargon.  Tell us who you are and what you stand for.  In plain language your grandmother could understand.

2.  Don’t use a stock photo of someone not at your church.  Use real pictures of real people (with their permission).  Not just leaders.  Ordinary people.  Helps visitors connect when they see the web face sitting next to them in the pew.

3.  Make it easy to contact you. Don’t hide the address or phone number.  Don’t use an email address that doesn’t work anymore.

4. is like 1.  He says to “Be human. Write like you talk and put your name on it. Tell a story, a true one, one that resonates.”

5.  Use true testimonials to build credibility.  Helps if it’s not someone on staff.

Good words.  Read and heed.  (excuse me while I edit mine!)

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Susan Young has written part 1 of a series that describes the difference between marketing and publicity, and why you, as a volunteer organization, need to be doing both.  If not you, then your message.

Marketing is all about branding. Marketing is how your organization differentiates itself.  Susan says that marketing messages should be a few short sentences that are punchy and concise.

  • A Church on the Move
  • Church with the Big Red Door
  • Real church for real people
  • For by grace we are saved . . .
  • The Offer Still Stands

Every person in your organization should live and breathe this message. When they convey this nugget to someone, the person listening should not walk away puzzled.  It belongs on everything you publish,  every message that goes to the congregation and the community.  The slogan defines who you are in a few words.

Marketing is how you position yourself to the community.  Sometimes it’s in your name, especially newer congregations or newer congregations within the older church.  At one 40-year-old church, we created GracePlace, a Sunday evening service different from the morning.  The name was to convey a shift in attitude, trying to change the neighborhood’s perception of us as “the place I used to go before they ran me off over some triviality.”

And that’s the warning with marketing.  It has to match who you are.  If you say you’re a friendly church but no one talks to visitors, you’ve wasted all the effort to build a brand, and in some cases, take a step backward.

But if you have a consistent message, get that message down to a few words and get the message out into the community.  It is your new brand.

I’m not saying the Gospel needs improvement, but in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christianity, you may need to do some

Element Community Church in Tucson sent out postcards advertising a new sermon series on God’s intended purposes for sex.  Just like every other place the concept has been tried, it’s getting lots of attention.

35,000 Tuscon homes got this in their mailbox

35,000 Tuscon homes got this in their mailbox

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I study marketing, because if no one hears of our congregation, how will they know where to come? and if they don’t come, how will they grow?  Marketing gives them salt, to thirst for what you offer.

There are a number of choices, but most of what you find on the ‘net favors whatever the source is selling.  The postcard people tell you postcards are best.  The cable people extol the virtues of TV ads, even as they talk up the cost savings of targeted cable advertising.  Direct marketing folks show how you can “reach your target” with inserts, blow-ins, and mail-outs.

Truth is, the right solution is whatever God tells you will work at your time, in your circumstance.  Often, it’s a blend of multiple approaches.  And so I keep learning, exploring this one and that one.

I’ve been fascinated with the “guerrilla” approach.  Getting newsprint easily, becoming a news item, or creating internet buzz.  And this week, I heard about guerrilla radio.  It’s such a good 2 hours, it’s worth listening to several times   Here’s the link.