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How to Promote Children's Curriculum to Churches

Wednesday, June 01, 2011   (0 Comments)
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Sticking to ‘em like Velcro

How to Promote Children's Curriculum to Churches

by Justin Cross, Director of Syndicated Research, Campbell Rinker

In his early days as a late night host, comedian David Letterman would don a big suit, run at a giant Velcro wall and jump. He wanted to stick as high as he could up on the wall.

In an offbeat way his mission was not that different from that of curriculum publishers today. Publishers want students to flock to their materials like Dave ran for the wall, and you want those materials to stick in their minds like Velcro. But on another level, Curriculum publishers work furiously to invent concepts and materials that engage not only kids, but the buyers of curriculum material as well.

Marketing research firm Campbell Rinker recently completed a major survey among curriculum and VBS buyers in churches nationwide. The study focused on many different areas of importance for publishers, though this article focuses specifically on the media and sources that curriculum customers pay closest attention.

Becoming Aware of Curriculum Products

The survey asked participants where their church first heard about the Sunday School curriculum products and VBS products they use. Most commonly, buyers first hear about the Sunday School curriculum products they use from their denomination/association (42%). Though still on top, this channel of first exposure drops to 29% for VBS products, seeming to indicate that denominational boundaries are more flexible for VBS materials than they are for Sunday School curricula.

Less common but more compelling to independent publishers, buyers are next most likely to say they received information directly from an independent publisher (13% for Sunday School, and 16% for VBS). So it clearly works for publishers to be direct and proactive in their promotional efforts.

Word of mouth is certainly a factor, with 11% of church buyers first hearing about their curriculum products (both Sunday School and VBS) from a friend or colleague within the church.

Taken together, these findings clearly indicate a bias towards denominational publishers, but they also show a willingness for buyers to investigate further and consider other products if they find the curricula from their own denomination to be lacking.

Social Media & the Internet

About seven in ten (71%) of those that influence Sunday School or VBS curriculum purchase decisions use Facebook at least weekly, making it an obvious choice for marketers to utilize (assuming they're able to efficiently target these customers within the Facebook universe).

Only 11% of such influencers use Twitter at least weekly, making it a less obvious choice for marketers than Facebook. Though if that 11% can be reached, then Twitter may still be an effective tool for publishers to utilize.

About half of the purchase influencers teach Sunday School classes, so the web sites that teachers frequent are natural places for publishers to promote their products. Survey respondents were asked what web sites they use for helping them plan for classes. The web sites of curriculum publishers are the most frequented web sites. The most popular non-publisher sites are...


About the Research Study

The survey was conducted online and by phone during March of 2011 among 1,012 curriculum customers from U.S. churches, providing a margin of error of ±3.08% at the 95% confidence level. Survey topics included customer satisfaction, spending data, customer preferences, and organizational dynamics. A summary report with additional results from the study is available by request at This study is updated every other year and was first conducted by Campbell Rinker in 2004.

A comprehensive report for the study is available to publishers. ECPA members receive a special discount. Details about the report can be found at To receive the ECPA member discount, mention "ECPA member" in the comment field of the contact form or when calling to order the report.

About the Author

Justin Cross is the Director of Syndicated Research at the firm. Campbell Rinker President Dirk Rinker also contributed to this article. Between them they have decades of experience working with the church market. Now celebrating its 20th year of providing marketing research to nonprofit organizations and the companies that serve them, Campbell Rinker is a member of the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO) and the Marketing Research Association (MRA).

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