Church Marketing Lessons From The Grocery Store

Mother and daughter shopping in supermarket

I was in a grocery store the other day as a clerk explained to another customer why certain things are placed where they are. People typically don’t look up to the top shelf or down to the bottom shelf. That’s why tomato soup goes on the bottom shelf. People who love it will find it. Items the store is trying to push the most go on the shelves at eye level, where people can easily find them without much effort.

I believe the church can learn much from private industries that invest thousands of dollars on marketing…far more than most churches could afford.

How do we translate the concepts of grocery store marketing to our churches?

One thing it means to me is that whatever we value most, needs to be at “eye level”, or promoted in a way that it receives the most attention. In my experience, sometimes churches, even in my own church, do better at promoting things that have lesser importance, and sometimes don’t promote enough the things that deserve the most attention. One example is that we often promote our programs more than we promote the person of Jesus.

At our recent staff retreat, it was decided that in 2010 we would analyze the way we do things to ensure we remain true to our strategy and ultimate vision of producing growing followers of Jesus Christ. We are going to make sure plenty of emphasis is placed on salvation, for example. We have tons of fun every Sunday, but we need to make sure no one leaves without the opportunity to know the person of Christ. We will continue to plan incredible services each week, but we want to make sure our main purpose is always at eye level.

Another example is baptism, which is important to us, but is often “difficult to find” in our structure. We need to find ways to talk about it more. Small groups and service are ministries we value greatly. We need to make sure we promote them adequately and how people get involved is easily understood.

With this line of thinking, because we have limited time each Sunday, we will bypass talking about some issues, so we can make sure we are talking about our main objectives. There are other things, such as membership, that while we have it, we’ve purposefully placed “on the bottom shelf”, because people that really want that step will usually find it.

Could grocery store marketing help your church? If something is valuable to your church and its vision, make sure it gets the most promotion.

For more thoughts on ministry, click HERE.

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6 thoughts on “Church Marketing Lessons From The Grocery Store

  1. Ron,
    Great ideas. Thanks so much. The one I might add is to hold the line once you've decided who your target is. Ours is those who have been profoundly disappointed by religion or God. I realized the benefit to holding the line just recently when I did a memorial service for someone who used to attend our church. The audience was a who's who of people that left our church because it wasn't what they wanted. I shared with our elders it was a great lesson of the benefit of holding the line of who we wanted to be as a church and who we are trying to reach. Holding the line can be very difficult, but well worth it in the end.