We bottled 20 cases of wine over the Thanksgiving holiday and a "tithe" of the wine (10%) was delivered to the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego on Saturday morning. The Reverend Canon Steve Wendfeldt accepted the gift on behalf of The Bishop. Canon "Steve" had time for breakfast , so over eggs Benedict dripping with extra Hollandaise sauce we discussed "Church Marketing 101". What he said applies just as well to promoting a winery, or a business:
Become known in the community:
* Join the local Chamber of Commerce. Get a link from their website.
* Approach local real estate agents/agencies about exchanging links. Give them your cards, flyer, brochure which they can include in their information for new comers.
* Get a listing on the website of your town.
* Take out a Yellow Pages listing -- make your listing stand out (by reversing the image, etc.)
* Flyers: post them up at community service bulletin boards, at shopping centers, wherever appropriate
* Identify members of the press in the community who would have an interest, and issue press releases, often. (For example, at Grace Church in San Marcos, the members got together this month and provided Christmas gifts for every single child in the local Head Start program -- that's worth a press release. Another example would be the education classes sponsored by University California San Marcos which are held at Grace Church each week). Be sure and understand the correct format each media outlet prefers.
* Use the church to hold events, such as concerts, lectures, classes, etc. If you have a good piano and a suitable space, contact all the piano & violin teachers in the area, and let them know they may use the church for free concerts.
* Hold a youth dance for teenagers, from 9pm - 2 am. Charge $1 or a can of food (to be given to the local food bank) as admission.
* Offer a "Friday Morning Out" for mom's -- where mom can take a couple hours off, leaving her kid(s) at church.
* During the Christmas season, on an appointed Saturday, offer to take care of the kid(s), so the parents can go shopping. Make this available as a service to the community -- not just the membership.
* Design ministry opportunities for retired seniors. For example, contact local schools in the area to see if they would welcome church members as tutors to help kids improve their reading skills.
* If you live in a town with a military base with lots of deployments, consider a ministry for young mothers (whose spouse may be deployed). Example, have the retired folks who love to knit offer a gift of a sweater/clothing for newborns....
* Use the kid's Christmas pageant as an opportunity to practice "all are welcome" by giving parts to all children who attend Christmas services -- even those who are attending church for the very first time. Prepare extra costumes for angels and shepards, and invite any newcomers you see at church that day to participate. (Make sure there are adults on hand who can guide the little ones who haven't participated in the rehearsals.) Publicize the open pageant to the community. Parts for everyone. No auditions required.
* For a "Blessing of the Animals" service, partner with the local ASPCA or animal shelter to get the word out about the event. The co-marketing will work well for both organizations, as both groups care about critters.
These are all great ideas, and we should follow them up at the Blue-Merle Vineyard and our little church in the valley, Grace Church San Marcos. What would you suggest?