The Deacon's Bench

One of the best-kept secrets of advertising may be in the back of your church bulletin:

bulletin_ads_new_large_50q.jpgMassage therapist Dan Snyder has discovered it’s better for business with God on your side. The 62-year-old owner of Dan’s Hands Therapeutic Massage and Body Work picked up 10 new customers with just one business-card sized ad in the weekly newsletter of the local Catholic church in his Emporia, Kansas community.

Now he’s a believer.

“The response was almost immediate,” said Snyder, a member of the monotheistic Baha’i faith who was raised in the Protestant tradition and doesn’t even attend the church. “Before I hardly knew the advertising was up and running, I had people commenting.”

After running the small, month-long promotion in the back of the bulletin for Sacred Heart Church, where it was flanked by callouts for a carpet cleaner, an electrician and the local McDonald’s, he saw his daily massage roster get a steady boost.

“There’s a strong Catholic community in this town,” said Snyder, who had experimented with other forms of print advertising with limited success. Snyder, who also relies on networking at local festivals where he offers free samples of his services, said the ad cost $345 and has already paid for itself.

“Anything for the rest of the year is gravy,” he said.

Snyder’s experience is not unusual. Proponents of marketing in religious publications said there are a variety of benefits. The ads can be purchased for just a fraction of the cost of traditional newspaper advertising, which can run in the thousands of dollars on an annual basis, depending on size, frequency and circulation.

There’s less distraction for readers; the promotions are typically limited to just a few pages in back of the publication, where there are few direct competitors. And for a select block of time each Sunday, every week of the year, church newsletters provide congregants with the only other reading material available beside Scriptures and hymnals.

“It’s kind of like the in-flight magazine; it’s a captured audience,” said John Jantsch, a Kansas City-based marketing specialist, who runs the website Duct Tape Marketing. “That kind of targeting is what makes it effective.”

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