Developing A Communication Strategy

Well this week I’m wearing a different hat for me, the communications/ marketing hat. I don’t know if it’s my strength but I’ve been thinking about how we could change somethings around the church. I’ve been wanting to make several changes but in the past my ideas didn’t have the sticking power. Currently there are some cultural changes taking place within the organization that might give my ideas some sticking power.

As a result this post is going to be longer than normal. It’s a lot of thoughts in progress but I thought I’d share my thought process and what’s influencing these thoughts. If anyone has any insights/ ideas I’d love to hear from you.

I’d like to say that I’m a marketing genius. Heck I’ll settle for a genius in almost any field. But my thoughts have been the synthesis (some of it was just straight stealing because they were so good) of ideas from:
Seth Godin
Kem Meyer
Tim Schraeder
(just realized all their blogs are on typepad. Coincidence?)

So the culture of our church is changing:
-Mass marketing has lost it’s impact (low ROI)
-Economy of our community is changing
-We are not doing mass mailings
-We are approaching a growth season for our church (January through Easter for us) so we are evaluating how we are going to communicate to our community.

So here are some of my goals for our communications:
-Reinforce that we are a unified church working toward a common vision, not a federation of sub-ministries. In the past every ministry would promote itself and the new series/ changes they were making for the growth season. I’m pushing for us to establish a theme for our growth season. Something generic enough like (join the journey, get in the game, walk through the door, etc…). That way sub ministries can promote to join the process by: Attending a LIFE group, being baptized, becoming a member, attending all the weeks of the sermon series, brining a friend, etc… It’s the principle

We need to use leverage our website and social networks for communicating with our members and community. Currently we have about 50 visitors a day to our website. This is about 1% of our weekend attendance. So we need to change some things to push our website. Here’s what I want to do:
-Redesign the website to better reflect our new goals and brand. Get content from sub ministries that tells a story, not just a static brochure. Have news nuggets where people can quickly see what’s going on. Develop connection points for people to get involved and take the next step. Expand experiences beyond the event (Bible study for current series, pictures and videos of events, testimonies, etc…)
-Reduce the size of our bulletin from it’s 11×19 size. Remove the inserts we put in the bulletin for special events etc… 50-70% of our bulletin is static information. Have only current info in the bulletin and let it be short to the point, push people to the web for more info. Let the bulletin content peak an interest and push them to the website to answer their questions.
-Instead of having signup sheets and brochures in our welcome center, put a couple of kiosks where people can sign up online.

This is a bit of a mind dump for me about some changes that we might be kicking off. We have a meeting next week so we’ll see what happens. But this might mean I’ll be designing a new bulletin layout and a new website over the next few weeks.

If you guys have any ideas on how to improve our communication and how we use the web I’d appreciate it.

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November 12, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized.

9 Comments

  1. Ben Anderson replied:

    We threw the idea around several times back in 2002-2003 to have an interactive kiosk for information, sign-ups and other uses, but the problem is is that they would have needed to be in a visible area away from traffic or no one would bother using it. The reality of information and interactive kiosk is that they slow people down for simple sign-ups, which isn’t exactly something you would expect, but it’s still much faster to thump through brochures, and scribble your information on a sign-up sheet.

    If they were doing a survey or writing a lot then the kiosk and a keyboard would speed things along, but the kiosk would result in people queuing up or avoiding the processes all together.

    If the kiosk was simply the sign up forms for the purpose of the members and visitors that didn’t have internet access, then it might be the perfect supplement to taking out the static information from the bulletin, but the kiosk would still need to be out of the way or the after service traffic would run the person off.

    Since everyone has a cellphone though, cellphone auto-responders and signup bots might be a better way of going. For example, txt 86754 with FinPeace with your name to sign up for the next Financial Peace session. Then people can still apply while sitting is service. The Pastor might not like, but they are texting anyways. The bot could also be setup to reply to key words and questions.

  2. Matt replied:

    Seems to me to be really tough to “Market” a Church. I’m a Marketing Manager, but we get to figure out in retail who we want to target and go from there. A Church at it’s core would have to say the target is the non-Christian so as to increase the Body of Christ. However, seems to me that unless you have a church full of Ministers, you need to figure out your niche based on the other churches around you and allow the congregation to attract the un-churched. What does your church offer that the others don’t? What does your church body as a whole reflect to those that may be searching for the answer? Once you narrow down what your church is or is turning into as far as the “face” you put forward, you begin a very focused approach to “marketing.” What does your church do better than others? “Sell” that concept to those that are hungriest for that specific attribute. They are the most likely to be satisfied. They in turn will “sell” to the next. It doesn’t mean you disregard others who don’t fit that profile – a Christ-based churched by it’s nature should never do that, but you ensure that in everything you do, your core identity is always conveyed. Don’t know if i sound rambling, confusing, or just babbled without providing any concrete suggestions. anyway take care and i love you brotha!

  3. Dave replied:

    Ben,
    I agree with the some of the problems a kiosk can bring. Some of that would depend on the number of people we usually have going to the info center. If this gets rolling I’ll try to get some numbers on how many people we get signing up at the info booth.

    I think having some printed material on hand is good for those without a computer or internet or just old school. I’m trying to think of other ways for us to communicate that we want people to go to the web.

    I’ve looked at some slick texting solutions. Jarbyco offers some very customized solutions for sending out text messages and doing polls and sign ups. But right now I don’t know if I can get the budget for it. Unless you know so economical ways to do this?

  4. Dave replied:

    Matt,
    I think the competition for a church is not another church, but any other activity that a person could do besides come to our church. Why should someone come to our church when they could watch the game, play golf, go to the lake, sleep in, etc…

    What makes our church unique? We are a multi-cultural, muti-generational church that wants to change the future by impacting the lives of youth and children.

    I agree with the idea of equipping our biggest fans to promote the church. I think it was Seth Godin who talks about giving our fans megaphones to promote us to their friends.

    Some of this should be the result of us identifying the brand/ image/ message we want people to have about us. Now this should be authentic in who we are. Nothing is worse than inauthentic Christians.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my brain dump and sharing your thoughts.

  5. Ben Anderson replied:

    Well, I’ve looked into a couple of different services, unfortunately most SMS Gateway providers aren’t very open about their prices and services…

    It’s usually cheaper to be a developer and throw together a backend for the interface than it is to pay for a service from the gateway provider. One I’ve looked into is Cell Trust, but it’s been a while since I looked around.

    The other option is using a GSM phone as a GSM modem, and hooking it up to a server, then the SMS service from the cellphone provider would be the major cost, and whatever software is running it.

  6. mylifeisepic replied:

    i wish i was a marketing genius đŸ™‚

  7. Tim replied:

    Dave,

    Way to go! It sounds like even though it’s a different hat for you, you are thinking the right things!

    Keep us updated on how these new ideas and implementations work out for you!

  8. human3rror replied:

    thanks for the follow! were you at the internet campus beta release with lifechurch?

  9. Dave replied:

    Found your blog awhile ago then your twitter feed through a friend.

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