Friday, September 4, 2015

The Headache of Promotional Items

How many ink pens can you possibly need? Many churches give them away like candy and other churches hang on to them like they are solid gold. Some churches have a large budget for coffee mugs, tee shirts, key chains and bumper stickers, all with the church logo emblazoned on the item. Other churches don't waste the money on such items. So where is the line between getting the name of the church out with promotional material to the community, and finding another use for the tithes and offerings? Just trying to figure all of this out can give you a headache that aspirin can't cure.

Ministers and ministry volunteers are often faced with a difficult choice of how to best spend the promotional budget. Some church leaders now are thinking, "Promotional budget, what promotional budget?" But if you have one  figuring out what to do with it can be difficult and if you don't have one should you?

Finding the knick-knack or tactic that will give you the biggest bang for your buck is not only difficult to anticipate, but for many churches it seems a lot like "casting lots" instead of a coherent plan. Will a coffee mug or ink pen really remind people to come to church on Sunday? Would a logo-printed flash drive help them choose your church instead of one down the road? Will a fancy tee shirt in the churches colors in the latest design pull in the curious that see it?

Maybe all this junk is just junk and a more traditional advertising plan would be better?  TV, radio, magazines, billboards and direct mail pieces have all been tried but that can be even more costly than coozies or flashlight key chains. Any promotion can fail to generate interest and not matter what you try it will be expensive.

While every church is different, at Speiro in general we recommend that you think long and hard before you invest in a lot of knick-knacks and thing-a-ma-bobs. However there is a place for them.

1. Pens - If you currently buy pens as office supplies you should just order some with your name on them and put them in the pews for people to use. If you get them in lots of 700 or greater they are less expensive than ones from the store in many cases. Don't go cheap! A pen that doesn't write makes your church look bad.
2. Sticky Notes - Same as ink pens. If you are already buying them, get them with your logo on them and give them away in visitor packages. Stick notes are useful and will "stick" around (pun intended) for a long time.
3. Coffee Mugs - Mugs can be used for visitor packages or to celebrate an event as a keep sake. Know how many you need over a long period of time and make sure you have a place to store the surplus. Look at attendance figures and visitor numbers over a two-year period to give you a good idea of how many to order.
4. Tee Shirts and Apparel - These are getting less expensive all the time. Again know how many you need and get a wide variety of sizes. Always use the church logo or theme on the design. Remember some people just don't like tee shirts,  the same with hats. For events (parades, community night out, festivals, etc.) always make sure everyone has a tee shirt to wear and ask them to put it on. Always have a plan to get rid of the surplus as give-a-ways and prizes. These should not be given as a welcome gift in most circumstances, unless they ask for one.
5. Magnets - First of all if possible make your own. You can save lots of money by producing only what you need. Also make it useful like Spiritual Emergency Phone Numbers. Magnets come in different strengths so test them out before you produce them in mass qualities. You test them by taking a pizza delivery menu and sticking it on a fridge door with the magnet. Slam the fridge door a few times. If it holds it is strong enough. If not try again. A magnet that doesn't hold a menu will get tossed in the trash.
6. Other items - Be creative and find fun things that are useful and will stick around for a long time or things that will help you make a point. Think about what you are trying to tell people. For instance luggage tags can be used to promote missions giving. You want to memorable.  

One thing for sure only order what you need and always have a plan for distributing whatever you order. The biggest waste of money is for there to be shelves of all sorts of items that just sit. If you think through the items, make plans and wisely order then they will be a reminder of your church to people.

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