Rethinking the Way We Market Churches

Garrison Smith: you might be in the wrong job if you don’t want to try every available strategy to share the Gospel.

In college I was taught McCarthy’s 4 P’s of Marketing.

Product. Price. Promotion. Place.

The product is what you are selling to the consumer (i.e. candy bar, life insurance, trip to Disneyland). Price is what the consumer is willing to pay for the product (i.e. $1.25, $100 per month, Too much). Promotion is how you communicate information about what you are selling (i.e. TV ads, radio commercials, email marketing). Place is where the consumer is able to purchase the product (i.e. grocery store, over the phone, online).

This was the lens we filtered all our research and insights through in order to come up with a strategy for a brand. Addressing these points does not guarantee a recipe for a successful brand, but it helps establish a strong foundation for the rest of the campaign.

In 1990, Robert F. Lauterborn argued another lens to view advertising and marketing through: the Four C’s:

Consumer. Cost. Communication. Convenience.

Lauterborn suggests the consumer is no longer who you are selling to but it is identifying the wants and the desires they have that your product can solve. The cost is no longer just a dollar sign because it costs more than just money to invest in something. Gaining awareness and engagement is no longer about shouting information from rooftops, rather it is about engaging in a conversation. How readily available your good or service is more important that traditional means of interaction.

While the landscape these principles were suggested in has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, they still act as a framework to think about how we position brands – in our case, the church.


The reality is, the church is one of the worst marketers and advertisers in the world today. Take a look at any of the church signs around your town that make you cringe because of their puns, shame-filled statements, or cheesy cultural analogies. It is time we completely overhauled the way church does marketing and advertising. I think one practical way is to think through the Four C’s in the context of your local church.

1. Consumer – From the perspective of the church, the consumer’s wants and desires are pretty easy to put a finger on. While we understand the desires of our heart as inherently evil (Jeremiah 17:9), there are common desires that are hardwired in every human being: love, acceptance, hope, purpose, etc. If we identify those as the wants and needs of the world, the church is perfectly positioned to address those desires.

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