Church Bulletins: 3 Essential Steps for Success
Recently, I was asked to write a blog for the church community. I first thought to myself, “What do I know about the church community?!” Granted, I did grow up in a church-going family and went to a Christian high school, but that does not mean I know how to run a church or know the “best practices” in the creation of church bulletins. After freaking out for a minute or so (okay, maybe an hour or so), I realized that I did have value to provide to the church community. See, I am an inbound marketing expert, and that holds major weight in the online community, but I started to ask myself, “how could my inbound marketing knowledge benefit the church community?” So I am here to dive in and show you how the inbound marketing process can transform your church's bulletins.First, what is Inbound Marketing?
I love the definition HubSpot, a marketing automation company, compiled (note, we have changed their definition just a bit to better relate to the church community): “Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential [church members] find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media — unlike outbound marketing, which fights for their attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal church member, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects and builds trust and credibility for your church.”
When creating an inbound marketing plan for your church, you need to follow these five guidelines:
- Lay the foundation
- Attract visitors to your website
- Convert your visitors into leads
- Close your leads into followers
- Delight your followers
To keep this blog manageable, I am going to only focus on the "Lay the foundation" phase to help you improve your church's bulletin.
The "Lay the foundation" process:
- Set SMART Goals
- Define Your Target Audience
- Define the Church Member’s Journey
Step 1. Setting SMART Goals – What’s the Purpose of Your Church's Bulletins?
Before you create any piece of content or bulletins for your church community, it's smart to set defined goals. Why? You should set goals to provide direction on what you're attempting to accomplish, which gives you the ability to determine if that content piece or campaign was successful or not. Knowing if you reached success or not, provides you the ability to learn and get better to create more effective church bulletins for your church's community.
The framework you should follow on setting goals for your church bulletins follows the SMART method. Setting SMART goals provides structure and track-ability into your objectives and goals. Instead of vague statements, SMART goal setting creates verifiable trajectories towards a particular objective, with clear milestones and an estimation of the goal's attainability.
SMART goals can help you create church bulletin ideas by setting a clear direction and purpose. Understanding the purpose of your church bulletins is the first objective of improving your bulletin's effectiveness on its real purpose.
The SMART Goal Framework for Your Church Bulletins
Your goal or objective should be specific and clear, otherwise you won't be able to focus your efforts on achieving it. When drafting your goal, attempt to answer the five "Ws":
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
It's important to set goals that are measurable, so you can track your progress and stay motivated. Having the ability to access your progress helps you and your team members stay focused, meet deadlines, and feel excited when getting closer to achieving your goal.
A measurable goal should address questions such as:
- How many?
- How much?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
It's important to set realistic goals that are attainable for you and your church team members. In other words, your goal should stretch your abilities but remain possible. Setting unrealistic goals that you and your team cannot reasonably accomplish will only hinder the team's morale.
An achievable goal will usually address the following questions:
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
- How can I accomplish this goal?
Setting relevant goals means setting goals that matter to you and the church, and having those goals align with the overall vision of your church. Setting random goals that don't help move your church in the set direction is only a distraction that should be removed.
A relevant goal can answer yes to these four questions:
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our other efforts/needs?
Any goal you ever set needs to have a deadline, so you have a target to focus on and something to work towards. Setting target dates helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.
A time-based goal will usually answer these four questions:
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do six weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
Potential Purposes or Goals for Your Church's Bulletins
- Engage new church visitors
- Outreach bulletins
- Communicate announcements
- Create a program for the worship service
- Solicit prayer requests or visitor response cards
- Share generic church information
- To acknowledge volunteers who served in the service
- To deliver a vehicle for ministry inserts
What is the purpose of your church bulletins?
Step 2. Define Your Target Audience – Who are the People Reading Your Church's Bulletins?
It's imperative to identify and understand who your target audience is before creating content ideas for church bulletins. A target audience is the demographic of people you want at your church. However, you need to dig a little deeper. You should go a step further and create a persona, which is a semi-fictional character of your ideal church community based on market research and real data about your existing church community.
Why is it important to create a persona? When you understand who you are trying to attract to your church, you are better equipped to create engaging content that will drive you towards your SMART goal(s). If you don't know who they are, how are you going to build compelling content?
Understanding your church's target audience and persona will change the tone of your messaging in your bulletins, and focus the team on the particular objective. To get someone to take action at your church, you need to strike a chord with something that’s meaningful to them. Facebook has such tools to help you identify your target audience and help you craft a focused persona for you and your church.
Find out who goes to your church with Facebook’s Audience Insights Tool
Facebook provide us marketers and others with incredible tools for free! One of my favorite tools they provide is their Audience Insights Tool, which provides you the ability to learn more about your target audience and persona. From this tool, you can review basic demographic data such as age, gender, relationship status, and education level all the way to household income and much more.
How does Facebook have all this data? Well, Facebook, as is, holds a ton of personal information. In your personal Facebook profiles, you have your name, address, age, and more. Every time you like something or watch something, Facebook is tracking this data and storing it. Facebook then went a step further and cross-referenced their data with some of the largest data providers in the world like Acxiom. By cross-referencing their data, they can match household income, purchasing behavior and much more. What’s crazy is that companies used to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to access this type of information that is free with Facebook's free tools. However, what's even crazier is that people do not even know these tools exist.
There are many ways you could use Facebook's Audience Insights Tool for your church's bulletin. One way is to export your church’s community data (name, phone number, email, address, etc.) and upload that list into Facebook. Once uploaded, Facebook will work to match your provided data with your church's community personal profiles on Facebook. Once the matching process is completed, you will then have the ability to review the data collected to gain more insight on who goes to your church and what is important to them.
Now that you have this basic information, work with the rest of your team to cultivate personas to provide direction on your bulletin's content. If you would like to learn more about Facebook’s tools, click here.
Who’s your target audience for your church bulletins?
Step 3. Define Your Church Members’ Journey – What Mindset is Your Target Audience in When They Read Your Church Bulletins?
Just knowing your target audience and having defined personas is not enough. You need to go a step further and understand your church's target audiences' mindset when picking up and reading your church bulletins. This process I speak of is called defining the buyer's (church member’s) journey.
The buyer's journey is the process a "buyer" (new church visitor) goes through to become aware of, evaluate, and "purchase" (decide this is my church) a new product or service. The journey is a three-step process:
- Awareness Stage: the church visitor realizes they have a problem or an opportunity.
- Consideration Stage: the church visitor defines their problem or opportunity and reaches options to solve it (going to your church on a consist basis over another church in the area).
- Decision Stage: the church visitor chooses a solution (to join your church community over other church's).
The graphic below illustrates a sample buyer’s (church member’s) journey for the simple purchasing decision of a doctor visit during an illness.
Understanding your church member’s journey and the thought process of your target audience when reading your bulletins will guide you on what content should be in the bulletin to satisfy the purpose of your church's SMART Goal.
The Church Member’s Journey Framework
When your target audience is in the Awareness stage, they identify their challenge or opportunity they want to pursue. Your target audience also decides whether or not the challenge or goal should be a priority or not. To better understand your target audience in the Awareness stage, ask yourself the following:
- How does my target audience decide whether the goal or challenge should be a priority or not?
- Are there common misconceptions my target audience has about addressing the goal or problem?
- How does my target audience describe their goals and challenges?
- How does my target audience educate themselves on these goals or challenges?
When your target audience is in the Consideration stage, they have clearly defined their goal or challenge and have committed themselves to addressing it. They evaluate the various approaches or methods to pursue the goal or solve their problem. To better understand your target audience in the Consideration stage, ask yourself the following:
- What categories of solutions does my target audience investigate?
- How does my target audience perceive the pros and cons of each category?
- How does my target audience educate themselves on the various categories?
- How does my target audience decide which category is right for them?
When your target audience is in the decision stage, they have already decided on a solution category. For example, your target audience now can write a pro/con list of specific options and then take a decision on the one that best meets their needs. To better understand your target audience in the Decision stage, ask yourself the following:
- What criteria does my target audience use to evaluate the available offerings?
- When my target audience investigates our church's offering, what do they like about it compared to the other church's? What concerns do they have with my offering?
- Does my target audience have expectations around trying the offering before they make a decision?
What is your church member’s journey?
Now that you have a defined a SMART goal for your church's bulletin, you know who your target audience is, and understand the buyer's (member’s) journey, you are now equipped to construct the best church bulletin content for your community. I would love to hear what you think about this blog and if you can see how this can impact your church in a positive manner. If you can, please leave me a comment so I can hear what you think. I would love to answer any questions you may have or point you in the right direction for other similar content.
Also, I have added a couple of helpful links for you. Enjoy!
Church Bulletin Templates
- Life's Ups and Downs Church Bulletin
- Redeemed Church Bulletin Cover Templates
- Online Editable Church Flyer Template
- Harvest Celebration Church Bulletin
- Risen Church Bulletin Template
Sample Church Bulletins
If you would like to learn more about us and Technocom, watch this short video.