“If I had an unlimited communications budget, then I would _______.”
I would make a pretty confident bet that no church has dedicated an unlimited amount of funds to communications. In fact, most of us operate on what we consider a limited budget. This means we have to get creative about communicating with excellence. Here are the five ways that I have been able to make my limited budget go as far as possible:
1. Dig on Vimeo for Promo Videos
If you are like me, you see the value in moving pictures behind your ad. But it is not practical to hire a production company every time you want to promote an event or initiative. And there is too much junk on YouTube. You might already be using Vimeo to host your videos, but did you know that a lot of artists openly grant access and allow you to download it for free? Search some keywords be sure to check the box “downloadable.” Boom. Then you can spend your money on design and editing. (Make sure you’re only grabbing videos that are licensed for reuse. You can also set the search box to look for specific licensing. Also user beware, not every licensed video is fully licensed and good to go.)
2. Download Existing Designs for Marketing
It might surprise you to know how many large and growing churches use pre-existing designs, templates and other shared media. If you have a limited staff and budget, you probably should not be spending 10 hours working on a custom graphic for your men’s banquet or hiring a designer to do it. An example of a website that facilitates this inexpensive design sharing: CreationSwap. Most graphics are free and can be downloaded as a source graphic (i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.)
3. Target Market with Facebook Ads
If you are bummed that you don’t have the budget to do a mail drop to the 20,000 people in your market, then this will comfort you. You can reach an exponentially larger and more targeted audience for much less money by harnessing the amazing power of Facebook ads. For example: We ran a simple five-day ad on Facebook to promote our Easter web page. It targeted those who are friends with someone already connected to our Facebook page (approximately 1,800 followers at the time) who also live in a 10 mile radius from our church. The results?
- Total individuals that saw the ad at least once: 8,491
- Actions taken/clicks: 401
- Total spent: $38.58
That’s like 401 people calling your church office after sending out 8,491 invite cards! There are so many great reports and articles out there that can get you started with Facebook advertising.
4. Piece Together a Web Presence
You might already know that your web presence needs refreshing. Maybe you need to start over. If you started to look for all-in-one packages like I did when I started out, then you are probably disappointed with the cost per/month. While there are lots of advantages to this option (web hosting, design, forms, email, etc. included in one fee), you are usually stuck in an expensive contract with little or no expansion possibilities. Instead begin to make a list of all web functions you require, then set out to get them individually. Remember you are reading about church comm on the cheap, not the easy. Example:
- Web template/structure: WordPress
- Web hosting/support: local web nerd
- Forms: Wufoo
- Sermon audio/video: Series Engine
- Video hosting: Vimeo
- Audio hosting: Dropbox
- Giving: Paypal
- Calendar: ServiceU
- Email: Google Apps
By piecing together services you also have the ability adapt to growth or get rid of an area that is not working while retaining control of all the pieces.
5. Dirt Cheap Printing
You can print high-quality, full-color pieces for cheaper than you think. Web printers like UPrinting, VistaPrint, ClubFlyers and others have very affordable prices. You can get 1,000 full-color, two-sided business cards for $25. Consider the possibilities of printing invite cards and doing a ‘bring a friend’ push for your next event.
Church communication doesn’t have to be costly. This just a quick sampling of ways you can promote your church without spending a lot of cash. How are you doing church communication on the cheap?
Joe Porter is the communications director at Whitewater Crossing in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area in addition to maintaining his photo and video business. This post appeared April 8, 2013, here. Used with permission from the author.
This post originally appeared in Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication, used with permission.