Watch What We Say: Marketing Methodology

Recently I had a conversation about the nature of church communications. One of the challenges a lot of churches face in communicating is that we are all stuck in communications overload. We have about 10 to 15 things to tell people every Sunday, plus whatever makes it into the worship guide and then our groups announcements. Realistically folks attending might hear or see nearly 20 different ads for their attention.

Does this bother them? Probably not. We’ve all been in a multichannel advertising environment for decades now and we can shut it off pretty easily.

Does this help us? Probably not.

Organizations that operate at high functionality have a tendency to be able to identify the primary points that need to be said, focus their message, and articulate with excellence.

Lots of churches don’t do this well. We settle back into an institutional model of communication where all of our ministries are fighting for time and recognition. As a result, we end up overcommunicating and the people we’re trying to connect with the most just don’t hear us.

In this conversation we ended up talking about the two primary channels we have to communicate through on Sundays. We have the “Insiders” and the “Outsiders” communication channels. So we looked at a couple of our major communication pieces that lead to Sunday morning. (Honestly, the Sunday morning challenge is deserving of an entirely different conversation.) My question in this conversation ended up being, why are we pushing our insiders to the outsiders channel to get all their info. If we have a social networking tool, why not push our insiders into this venue to get their information. Where there is reduplication of events or information, we can use a common medium. However, if we want to step up our communication level, why not use the appropriate channels and draw people into anticipating our communication through their appropriate channels.

Outsiders are going to be attracted to using whatever channel we give them or validate for them. They’re outsiders, they don’t know any different. They don’t know our culture and that’s good. Use that knowledge and leverage it. But our insiders know enough about us to anticipate our inadequacy of communication. This is where the “re-education” (not in the Maoist sense here) comes in.

By taking our insiders through their own channel, reinforced by social media and (perhaps most importantly) consistent platform validation, they will grow accustomed to anticipating their information comes through their specific channel. The challenge for the church staff is differentiating the channels and being zealots for sticking to our guns when staff members get their noses bent out of shape. Of course part and parcel to this is recognizing and classifying events according to their role within our larger assimilation framework. Not everything is a front door event (which is for outsiders.)

I think the hardest thing a church has to do as it grows (or any organization) is helping its communication process evolve along with its growth. How you communicate to 500 people is different than how to communicate to 5000.

So, how do you use channels for communicating appropriately? What are some of the challenges you’re facing in communicating consistently to your insiders and outsiders?