Here's Why You Hate Marketing Your Ministry (And How to Fix It)
I'm pretty sure somewhere in at least 80% of my consultations, the following phrase is uttered: "I just really hate marketing" or its close second "I just hate talking about myself."
I get it. I really do. I don't really like it either, for fear of being too salesy. But allow me to tell you a little story...
No Need for GPS
Once upon a time, you're about to head out on a road trip across the country. You have all of your snacks, you've read up on the latest travel tips for driving with screaming toddlers (and invested in some earplugs), and you spent hours cultivating a Spotify playlist set to let you jam from coast to coast.
Then you head out...without setting your GPS or looking at a map. How hard could it be? As long as you pay attention to the road signs, it can't be that hard to drive in a straight line across the country.
How successful do you think that trip will be?
You did all of the planning: snacks, resources, music - but you didn't actually set up your plan. Instead, you assumed you'd figure it out along the way and focused too much on the details.
As you drive, muttering non-church words under your breath at each delay, you proclaim: I hate road tripping! I did all of this work, and we've got nothing to show for it!
Sound like your approach to marketing your ministry?
Real talk: The reason you hate marketing probably isn't because you actually hate marketing - it's because you don't have a plan.
My goal? To make you just as passionate about marketing your ministry as you are actually running it.
What is a Marketing Plan?
At their core, marketing plans are high-level blueprints for your organization's strategy. They allow you to articulate your vision and mission, goals, and strategies for growth. They encapsulate who you are so that you can easily articulate the why, who, and how of your ministry.
In the above example, the map is your marketing plan, but instead, you've been focusing on the marketing details, trying to do everything in the hopes that something will stick. The snacks you've packed for your audience through social media posts and the dozens of free resources you've scoured for marketing tips (including mine!) don't mean a thing if you don't actually know how you're getting your audience from one coast to the other.
Now I can hear you saying from here - but Emily, how can I possibly make a plan when Instagram changes the algorithm every other day and I need to be active on every single marketing platform and oh yeah ACTUALLY DO MY MINISTRY?!
Let's debunk a few myths:
Marketing plans are NOT about keeping up with the ever-changing algorithm or latest fad. It's about creating a timeless vision that charts a course for you to be successful and adapt no matter the latest TikTok trend or course/webinar/podcast/funnel series craze.
You DO NOT need to utilize every marketing platform out there - nor should you. Not all of them fit for your target audience and needs, and it's a recipe for marketing burnout.
Marketing plans are for EVERY ministry. You do not have to be a large establishment with dozens of employees to be "worth" a marketing plan. (In fact, I would argue that you're never going to be a large establishment WITHOUT having a marketing plan first.)
Marketing plans don't have to be so complicated! My advice would be to NOT Google "marketing plan templates" because you'll get overwhelmed and confused very quickly. My advice instead WOULD be to keep reading, because we're about to unpack this.
It Doesn't Have to Be So Complicated.
Putting together a plan for marketing your ministry shouldn't be as complicated as putting together Ikea furniture - but it can be when you don't know the language of marketing and business.
The official elements of a marketing plan go over your executive summary, your value proposition, the 4 P's, competitive analysis, etc...
And they're all actually really helpful - if you know what they mean.
Let's talk through the elements of a marketing plan in actual human language:
Executive summary - This is the overall statement of who you are and what you do. It's a like bite-sized vision statement that sums up your niche and your mission.
Value proposition - This is the unique value you offer: what pain points do you solve and what makes you different from everyone else?
Target audience and character personas - This is who you serve and where they "live" online so you can make decisions about where to market.
SWOT - An evaluation of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats so you better understand where you are currently based on internal and external factors.
Competitive analysis - This looks at your positioning within the industry by looking at others who are doing well (and not so well) compared to you.
4 P's - This outlines your product, price, promotion, and place (to be honest, I've never found this incredibly helpful for ministries' decision-making). It essentially explains the why behind your pricing, what you make (product), where you produce it, and where it is promoted - but if you don't know the above, then articulating those four is difficult
Goals - Using a timeline or journey map and armed with the mission and strategy elements above, you're able to make effective marketing decisions to reach your goals.
But What Makes It Catholic?
If you've been around a while, you know I'm PASSIONATE (see also insane, fanatical, nerd, etc.) about how Jesus used marketing strategies - THE SAME ONES WE USE TODAY - to grow the Early Church. Things like the Rule of Seven, drip marketing, and the like - He may not have had social media, but He sure knew how to grow a following, and we can learn a thing or two about marketing our own ministries from His example.
Anywho, how do we integrate that into our marketing plans? Traditional marketing plans focus on gains and growth that just don't make sense when your ultimate goal is saving souls.
So in addition to the elements above, a Catholic marketing plan should be just that - rooted in Catholicism. It should take into consideration not only your practical goals, but also your spiritual ones. It essentially asks the question, what is the unique way you've been called to bring souls to Christ? Whether that's through your artistry, your writing, your speaking, or your work at a parish, this is the foundation upon which all other marketing decisions should be made.
There's One Problem.
I've worked with dozens of ministries over the past few years, and something I've noticed: there's a big difference between those who implement a plan and those that don't.
Because here's the thing: When you know what you're doing and where you're going, marketing simply becomes a process of continual discernment, not trying to start from scratch each time.
So this is something I'm super passionate about seeing ministries implement. I began offering marketing plans to clients, working with them 1:1 to chart a path for their ministry so that they can easily articulate their mission, build relationships, and reach their goals.
The thing is, there's only one of me, and lots of ministries that can benefit from something like this.
I tried Googling to see if there was a marketing plan template I could recommend that would actually help my clients move their ministries forward on their own terms, and I just couldn't find anything.
And so.....I decided to create it myself.
Creating Your (Catholic!) Marketing Plan
INTRODUCING: Creating Your (Catholic!) Marketing Plan - a new resource by Gloriam Marketing!
I'm so excited to be offering this brand-new resource for ministries. It's a jam-packed workbook that walks you through all of the traditional marketing plan elements in real-life, human language so you can actually implement it practically in your ministry, PLUS a customizable template to layout this plan.
Best of all, it's authentically and fully Catholic, which means two things: all the marketing WITHOUT the sleaze and real life examples from the ultimate marketer/evangelizer Himself. With every exercise, I show you how Jesus did the EXACT SAME THING in building the Early Church, so you can do the same guilt-free to build your ministry.
And, since they have different goals and needs, I created not one, but TWO: one for churches and one for businesses and ministries.
You don't have to be stuck trying to make marketing decisions anymore. You don't have to guess who God is calling you to reach and which platforms to prioritize to do so. You don't even have to hate marketing anymore.
And you can do it all with Christ (who gives you strength) in the forefront.
My prayer is that this plan helps all ministries to discover and get back to their God-given mission so that they can do the work we've all been called to do in our own unique way: bring people to Christ.
Be sure to check out the church edition and the business and ministry edition of Creating Your (Catholic!) Marketing Plan (and if you grab a copy before October 2, you can get $3 off with code MPLAUNCH).