Youth Group Marketing

Youth Specialties
January 12th, 2009

Let’s take a minute to think about marketing your youth group. If the word “marketing” sounds too business-like and not spiritual enough, than think of it like this, “How do students talk about your ministry?Marketing youth ministry? Even just typing the title of this blog post gave me a flashback to my youth group days. When I was a high school student we didn’t need marketing. There wasn’t much to do so whatever the youth pastor put on a calendar got put on my personal to-do list. As you well know, it’s not like that anymore. Students have many more choices and they are being taught to pick and chose to make the best of their time. And, as much as we don’t like to think about it, what we’re offering is not always the best use of their time. Local eyes. You have the tremendous benefit of having access to the world of church marketing. You can visit the Church Marketing Sucks labs and get inspired with some of the best ideas in the country. Or you can follow some youth ministry blogs and harvest the best of their ideas for your own ministry. What I love about that type of networking is that I can find an idea worth doing in my own ministry and my students think I’m a complete genius. I call this the wisdom of a crowd. Your local students will never know or care where the idea came from, but they will care that you’ve gotten their attention. With very little effort you can produce something completely unique for their local eyes. Global eyes. The bad news is that your marketing efforts are going to be compared to everything else. Gone are the days when you’re clip art calendar was put in a different category as iTunes or Coca-Cola. It’s a global world and your messaging will be looked at by your students and their parents alongside the hundreds of other messages they receive any given day. That can be both good and bad. Something that looks really good will get lots of local attention from students. And things that aren’t quite perfect, but local, will likely get a pass in the same way you don’t expect your local newspaper to be quite as good as the New York Times or Chicago Tribune. The really bad part is that if you produce something that doesn’t connect, they’ll treat it just like the rest of marketing they get everyday… they’ll ignore it. The personal advantage. Now the good news! While your marketing efforts may be judged by your parents and students with global eyes right alongside Nike and Comedy Central, you have a major advantage over them. You know your students. You know your community. And you know what will activate your students to action. Recently, marketing experts have been talking a lot about the need of companies to tie their marketing messaging to a movement or a cause in order to grab adolescent attention. I think that’s a great idea for your youth ministry marketing efforts as well. Today’s students are passionate about social justice issues. Tying your teaching and programming into social action will connect and provide your students with something easy to talk about to their peers. Teach on human trafficking and then host a party to raise awareness for ways to get involved with anti-trafficking organizations. Or teach students about their citizenship in heaven and tie that into action by helping them start a food pantry. My experience has been that if I can clearly draw a line between my teaching and an action students are passionate about, they will talk about it with their peers. And that’s a marketing message stronger than anything Madison Avenue can create. What about you? What have you learned about marketing to your students? What works? What doesn’t? Share an idea or a comment below!

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.