There is a counterintuitive marketing concept that we, as pastors, should spend some time contemplating: “If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one.”
When you are promoting an event or sermon series, who is your target audience? Are you focused on a 35-year-old man who works in construction and has two kids, or are you focused on all men who might possibly see your sign or know someone who does?
When you focus your advertising (announcement) on a particular target audience instead of trying to reach everyone possible, you create energy and momentum.
Imagine this: You are having a men’s breakfast. You want to reach all the men in your church, so you tailor the announcement to hit everyone. What you end up with is a generic ad that actually reaches no one—those who come will be those who come out of relationship with you, but there will be little or no excitement for the event.
Now imagine the same event, but you’ve decided your target is 30-year-old men who game a bit and love British humor. You put together a short video with a bit of British humor and a few video game references to show on Sundays. As the video plays, only a few people get the humor, but their laughter (albeit quiet laughter, in a British sort of way) causes others to perk up.
You decide you will give away three of the latest video games during your event, and you start the event by pitting one of your pastoral staff against the winner of a competition put on by the youth department the week before.
Which of these two scenarios will draw more men to your breakfast?
Now, there will be those who will think you excluded them (like the elder woman who hit me over the head with an umbrella at a women’s tea because the performing band was too loud). You might need to do a bit of leadership with them to help them connect their passion (seeing the church grow, usually) with what could happen if the 30-year-old men who game a bit and love British humor connect through this event.
Does this sound unspiritual? Shouldn’t we just pray people into the church?
Consider Jesus. He came to save the whole world. Yet He focused on just a few people, all Jews, most of them young Jewish men from working-class families. By narrowing His focus to Peter, James and John, He was able to reach the entire region—and build momentum to reach the world.
Jesus' message had something for everyone, yet His focus was very narrow: “When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions” (Matt. 5:1-2, MSG).
When you don’t focus your advertising, those who are listening assume you are talking to someone else. You see this play out when you are trying to recruit someone to help out in the 4-year-old classroom. An announcement from the pulpit might plant the seed, but it will get almost no response.
However, when you approach someone directly, explain your need and how it might fit into their life, you get a much greater response—you target your audience. Chances are high that even if they turn you down, you’ll get a referral for someone who will fit the position.
So, what events are you planning this fall? Who is your target audience?
Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach and can be found online at deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.