It’s one of my favorite tricks.
On a recent Sunday I wasn’t preaching. After doing some Ministry By Wandering Around (MBWA) at our Loring Mill campus, I went down to visit our Pocalla campus. After doing some MBWA there, I headed back to Loring Mill and stopped for a Diet Coke at store near Pocalla. As the cashier rang up my purchase, I asked, “Could you tell me where Pocalla Church is?”
She said, “I think if you go up to the Piggly Wiggly, and turn left, and then go down the one-way street, it’s there.” I thanked her, and walked out with invaluable market research. She had just given me directions to the BBQ hut. She didn’t know where our campus was located; in fact, she sent me in the exact opposite direction.
If people don’t know where you are, they can’t come to you.
Most churches and many businesses are over-confident that people know their location. Churches especially over-estimate their brand recognition and community profile.
I was doing a revival for a church in Kentucky. This church was the largest in town by a fair margin, and was located one block off the main drag. I went to three stores to ask directions. Twice the cashiers told me they had never heard of the church – including one store three blocks from the church. The third cashier told me she had heard of the church, but had no idea where it was.
When I shared this story with the church, there was shock. They couldn’t believe people didn’t know them. One older lady approached me after the service and wanted to know if I had gotten the name of the church right when I asked for directions!
How do you help people know where you are?
1. Include your address on everything you do. Think this is simple? I saw a Facebook ad for a large ministry that failed to identify the location of an event.
2. If you are off the beaten path, include a simple map on publications. You may think in the age of Google Maps you don’t need to, but people still need a picture of where you are.
3. Make sure your social media provides your address and directions.
4. Regularly post a map of your location on Instagram.
5. Regularly take homemade cookies to cashiers at stores near your church or business. Be sure they know who brought them and where you are.
6. Make sure you have visible directional signs on main thoroughfares.
7. Make sure your sign is simple and visible from the road. One of my pet peeves: Church signs that are parallel with the street. Great for pedestrians; horrible for cars. Invest in signage that is positioned at a 90 degree angle to the street with your identity on both sides.
8. In an era of information overload, this is a battle that never ends. You have to constantly keep your profile up in the community.
Try the Cashier test. Let me know what it tells you about community awareness of your church!