Church Marketing: Are Easter Promotions Overrated?

On a recent call with a church client, the leader asked me, “Are Easter promotions overrated, do they really work?”

His timing was impeccable because Easter comes early this year on March 31. That means if you want to launch your Easter promotion by March 1, you really only have three to four weeks to plan and create everything. Less time if you want to kick things off just after Valentine’s Day. Ministry really is like one run-on sentence with no punctuation!

So how about it… are Easter promotions overrated?

Honestly, I wrestled with this one. I’ve always believed that promoting Christmas and Easter was a great outreach opportunity to invite people who have never attended your church. But is it overrated?

After some thought and a lot of prayer, here is where I landed…

Easter promotion is not overrated, because the gospel is not overrated.

Like the woman at the well, we should do everything we can to get the attention of our culture and invite them to “come and see” this man named Jesus.

Think of it this way. If you walked into a large meeting room filled with thousands of people from your community and were given a microphone with the opportunity to tell the room about your church, share some stories of life change, and connect with people in the crowd, wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t you seize the chance to invite people to “come and see.”

In a recent Barna study across all generations, the majority of people surveyed were spiritually open – even two-thirds of elders (66 percent) are at least moderately spiritually open.┬áToday’s teens are especially in a state of amplified spiritual openness, with nearly three in four (74 percent) qualifying as moderately or highly open. (https://www.barna.com/research/spiritual-openness/)

This means most of the people in your community are at least open to a discussion about Jesus. Easter provides an opportunity to invite them into that conversation. But paving the way for that conversation takes focused strategy and intentionality to get them into the room.

Here’s a follow-up question: Do Easter promotions translate to healthy growth and lives changed?

What’s the point of driving an Easter crowd into your building, if everything goes back to business as usual the next week? Perhaps what really determines successful Easter promotions is not only how many attend Easter, but also what happens the next week and the next. Do you see a lift? Do you see new people engaging? Do you see life change happening?

In 2023, D+C partnered with numerous churches to create and execute marketing strategies for their Christmas and Easter services. The majority of churches we worked with saw a significant increase in attendance (some as high as 30 percent year over year) and then experienced significant growth during the following weeks (one church reporting a 20 percent increase this January). What made the difference? I believe it was mindful, prayerful, intentional engagement with guests from the first click to the final amen.

Here are a few best practices you can utilize to see the best results from your Easter promotions:

  1. Create a multichannel promotional plan that targets your audience from different perspectives. We like to start with a social media and digital advertising plan that makes sure people find you when they are scrolling and searching. From here, layer in other channels as your budget allows (direct mail, cable ads, connected TV (CTV), billboards, etc.). And don’t forget to engage your internal audience to create a groundswell of excitement to attend, serve, and invite others.
  2. Be yourself on Easter Sunday and give your guests a taste of what to expect from your church. Sure, make it special, but don’t overproduce the service so that what they experience the next time they attend is radically different.
  3. Give people a good reason to come back and intentionally talk about what is happening next week. This could be a new sermon series that targets a felt need, children/student activities, or some type of special event (we have a church client that has food trucks and family activities the next week).
  4. Put your best foot forward and think about all the touch points a new person will experience both online and in person. Make sure things are clearly communicated, questions are answered, volunteers are trained, and everything is clean, spruced up, and on point. Perhaps think about engaging a secret shopper ahead of time to pinpoint things you may have overlooked.
  5. Be intentional to make personal connections with people who attend. Create a plan to capture names and follow up quickly with your guests. Think about engaging your guest through a texting strategy, a gift at the information booth, or providing a way to “plan your visit” or “let us know you’re coming” on your Easter landing page. Once you have these names, make a personal connection within one to two days.

Be encouraged. Reaching people in your community with the gospel of Jesus is worth it and is never overrated. We are praying for your church during this season and believe this can be a catalyst to even greater ministry impact.