How do You Picture a Christian Small Business?

by Brad Harmon on October 22, 2009 in Entrepreneurs

What exactly does it mean when an entrepreneur says that they own and operate a Christian small business?  What should we expect when we walk through the doors?  As an entrepreneur, is this really an image we want to attach to our small business?

The name of the video is What If Starbucks Marketed Like A Church? A Parable.  The lessons from this video are great for small businesses whether they are Christian owned or not.

Does the Typical Church Experience Taint the Christian Small Business?

Clearly, this video is a wake up call to many churches that do not think that marketing is appropriate for the church.  Why?  Because whether they realize it or not they are already engaged in marketing and, as this video shows, they generally fail miserably.

When asked why he talks about God in his presentations, Zig Ziglar is found of pointing out that according to surveys nearly 90% of people express a belief in God.  “Why would I risk alienating 90% of my audience?” he replies.

Let’s face it though.  While more people may claim to believe in God, and even call themselves Christians, we have not been so despised since the days when we were blamed by Nero for the fire that nearly destroyed Rome.

In light of this, and the experience of attending the typical church service, is it a wise decision to attach our businesses to our Christianity?

My Business is not Christian Owned – Why Should I Care About This?

It’s interesting to note that some of these same marketing fiascos are being employed by small businesses regardless of whether they are Christian owned.  The truth is the truth no matter where it is derived.  We would be fools as entrepreneurs not to take advantage of such wisdom.


Everyone loves a great parking spot.  Whether it is at church or your small business, make sure that the best spots are saved for your customers.  Designate prime parking spots for your customers by putting up signs and instructing your employees, friends, and family to park in other spots.

This also applies to your website.  Make sure that it is easily accessible.  Make sure that your website is easy to navigate.

First Impressions

You know the saying.  You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Greeters are a powerful way to make that first impression.  Wal-mart does a great job utilizing greeters, but not only do they greet you they also perform a service.

Like the greeters in the video, small businesses are guilty of ignoring customers as they walk in the door.  It is such an important moment in a new client relationship.  How much time do you spend on training your employees and yourself on making the most of this one time opportunity?

Again, this applies to your website as well.  What is the first impression you are making?  What type of greeters do you have?  Is there a welcome or new visitor section on your home page?

Fill This Card Out

How many times have you heard that the money is in the list?  Sometimes we are so eager to get a new customer into our list that we bombard them with signing up before we have ever given them a reason to do so.  Provide great service, follow up with the customer to make sure they are happy, and then suggest the sign up.

In the virtual world the list is just about everything.  Screaming at your reader through multiple calls of action pointing to signing up for your free newsletter, ebook, etc. is not very wise.  If you have your auto-responder box prominently displayed on your landing page then there is no reason to create pop ups, banners ads, toolbar notes, etc.

Sprinkle more calls of action throughout your posts where they make sense.  Provide value then remind of the reader about your call to action.

What Did You See?

There are many more lessons in this video.  There are many parallels between the local church and small business.  As we have seen, many times they are utilizing the exact same methods of attracting “customers.”

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Millionaire Acts October 24, 2009 at 4:04 am

Nice video especially on the word JOY. This is a unique form of marketing to increase sales.


Brad Harmon October 24, 2009 at 12:16 pm

It is definitely a unique form of marketing, but I am not sure how effective it is. It was striking to me how accurately this portrays a visitor's experience to a typical church. It shows that even the smaller churches use marketing, but that we are very poor at it. I was surprised that there were so many parallels to small business.


corriehowe November 8, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I've been to several of these churches, small businesses and websites. So much to say, but all the words escape me. 🙂

I did sent this on to my church leaders (who also happen to be my husband and our really good friend).

I'm kind of in this dilemma now. I love to write. I've written all my life. And many people have told me that I should write (during the two decades I stopped writing as a profession). So I started blogging partly as a ministry to parents of special needs children. The birth of our middle son thrust us into this community, that is quite frankly filled with a lot of hopelessness.

So the more I learned about blogging, the more I felt led to improve my blog and platform (which costs money). I don't feel the call to make a lot of money or even to add financially to the household income. I do feel called not to burden the household income with my ministry. I also desire to enrich my children. My children are very gifted. And while we belong to a very good school district, the school district does not subscribe to the idea of Gifted and Talented programs. The school continues to invite us to pay for outside enrichment (while not giving our children credit for their achievements “because you can afford to pay for it while other parents cannot.” But this is an whole different rant.)

In some ways, I feel enhancing my children is building them up to glorify God. Before the birth of my oldest, I've felt he's called to a global ministry. Since a very young age he's been interested in the world and has traveled to Australia, China and Hong Kong as a teenager. He'd like to go to Spain next. I'd like to help him raise the money. My daughter is a talented artist. My other son is incredibly creative and sensitive to the Spirit.

So, ministry, covering the expenses of providing a quality blog and a little extra to enhance the education of my children…these are really my only goals. (Of course, if God wants to bless me beyond, I'd love to have floor to ceiling bookshelves built in the basement to house all our books).

I'm trying to figure out how to do this “tastefully.” I personally hate going to blogs where all their sales are up front and the content is very hard to find.

This is why I'm on your site reading through your posts and why I'm on Martin's site reading through his blogs.



Brad Harmon November 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm


There does seem to be a lot of websites that are more ads than content. Perhaps there is a strategy to drive tons of traffic to such sites for the ad impressions, but I wouldn't think there would be many visitors that would click through their ads. Even if there is a successful strategy to do this, it just isn't something I would be interested in doing.

You will not find much information on my site on how to monetize your blog. It's just not something that I focus on, but there are some regular commenters that do. I would suggest checking out Keller Hawthorne's blog,

Hope this helps.



corriehowe November 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Thanks, I already signed up for her site based upon your article. I was interested in yours because of shared faith and business.


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