Welcome to this seminar on church communicationsJust to help me and know who I am talking to, who is a pastor here today?Who is involved in the doing the communications in their church?How many church plants are represented here?Don’t you just wish there was an app that you could get and all your problems would be solved?Today, I want to remove the scare factor and make a simple communication strategy much more accessible to all, regardless of size of church
[Write people’s comments/thoughts on flip chart]
Just a little about myself...I have been working in advertising and marketing since 1985I have had the dubious honour of working as a creative on advertising accounts such as McDonald’s, Prudential 7up, Kellogg’s Coco Pops (that last one always impresses my kids. Man I hate that monkey!)However. I am also a church planter and pastor Stour Valley Vineyard in South Suffolk with my wife EmmaSo I come today not just as some detached marketer, giving you a load of stuff you may like but can’t use, but as someone who has to live the words the speakI offer some thoughts as a practioner with a foot in both worlds.
Okay, let’s jump in at the deep end and tackle the tricky one of marketingHere are some common responses I come acrossI find that if anyone has a view on something it is in the area of marketing and brandingIt is the subject that has the power to unite and divide peopleWe love to relay that great TV ad to each other, but we are also quick to talk about its evil on a Sunday morning
Starting with first things first... I suspect no church planter or senior pastor had, perhaps, really thought ahead when they starting out that they were going to have to become an au fait in communicationsBut don’t worry! Everything is going to be okay
The ‘great commission’ is all about getting the message out thereThe word ‘Preach’ suggests that we are to announce, publish, make known, and proclaim the gospelIts very definition indicates one of the main pillars of marketing – promotion.As we are walking advertisements of God’s grace, so is everything we say , write down and action
We need to think through how we want to be perceived by peopleHow did Jesus want to be perceived?To do this he had to be seen doingHe had to communicate with the crowds, the religious rulers with words and worksThe church is very good at keeping its light hidden under a bushel, but we are told to put it where it can be seen
The chances are, unless you really are inept, you be doing some of these things already in your churchSo you already know something useful about marketing and communications
Here are some of the areas I thought we would touch on todayEach one actually deserves a seminar in itself, but hopefully in our ‘whistle stop tour’ you may pick up something that is useful.We’ll also have an opportunity at the end to ask any questions or pose any specific communication problems/issues
The truth is, you already have a brand, whether you are aware of it or not.You have a nameIt stands for somethingIt has a character, set of beliefs and valuesPeople have a perception of you
Charles Handy has a helpful definition in his book: Inside Organizations (Penguin)A true brand reflect only what is happening inwardlyIn short, we don’t make it up, wemerely pull out and presents what already thereWe give it emphasis and underlining
A brand is only a brand if it stands for somethingIt embodies our vision, values, purpose and missionA well-considered brand brings that experience alive!It is lived, breathed, spoken and consumedIt get spoken about and draws people inIt contains something special at its core that is hard to ignoreEveryone in the church is an emotional stakeholder of that brand
We might think we are known, but are we really.I like also what Jason Scott asks about his church in Dungannon: “If our church closed down tomorrow would anyone notice?”
We are in the ‘people business’But as some wag has also said, so are cannibalsWe are not an institution, we are all about relationshipsWe can say one thing and do another
For instance most broadband companies are great at sales, but bad at ‘after sales’ serviceOnce they have got you they seem to try less to please you, so when you can you move to someone else.Marketing is essentially all about relationshipIt is something churches should have a head start inTreating people well, being authentic will contribute to church growthThat’s part of the social science of communicationsIt is not just about announcements
I hear Mark Driscoll say recently that trust is slowly made, but quickly brokenWhatever we say will eventually come home to roost, if we have not been quite honest
The best carrier of that news is you and me, and those around you.The early church got the good news out not by a brand push by central headquarters, but through one anotherThis is why the gospel travelled so quickly through Asia Minor
There are a number of ways of getting the message out – and the good news is most of them are free for the basic package.
Are they Twitter people, SMS txt people or what?Use different tools to communicate the same thingTrusted advertising research shows that people need to consume a message three times before they get it
Blogs are a great way for people to get to know you before they come to youPost twice a once or twice a week and build up from there as time allowsBUT it must be regular.Be positive, respectful and truthfulGive credit to another blogger where credit is dueThis says to others that you are in a community
Manage your content - don’t overload peoplePeople don’t necessarily want to know every ministry you have, just what happening next weekend and through the following weekPrioritise by what is immediately relevant
Quick tipsKeep it fresh – update it regularlyMake sure all links workSpeak in your voice, not the BBC’sKeep it simple, not wordy (People scan and don’t read)Avoid putting up half constructed sites – to annoys people!
SMS Txt MessagingWeekly textsTiming is everything!Send out first thing in the morning at a lunchtime or early eveningPeople use it as a calendarThey like getting communications from the church – feel in touchCheap, easy and quick to do
I would really only recommend an e-newsletter, if you have a lot to communicateAs a church plant I do one once a termIf you are an established church with lots going on do moreBut don’t be too ambitiousGrow your frequency, don’t shrink it because you run out of steamIt sends out a bad sign.
Notice the personalisationTo be known is to be loved, as someone once said.
Work best when used with PR editorial
Ambient advertisingDon’t always think paper – think creatively
Church. Got an app for that?
NLC 2010 seminar<br />church. <br />is there an app for that?<br />simple communications strategies for getting the word out<br />Andrew Stewart-Darling<br />stour valley vineyard church | For a life less ordinary<br />
Where do you want to go today?<br />Microsoft<br />
Don’t tell my mother I’m in advertising - she thinks I am a pianist in a brothel.<br />American adman Jacques Seguela<br />
If we simply pray more...<br />Called to be different<br />Branding and marketing is manipulative<br />There are more important things to give my time to<br />Some common misconceptions<br />About marketing<br />Marketing is of the world!<br />We’re are not big enough for that kind of thinking<br />All we need is the Holy Spirit<br />
The role of brand awareness...<br />“If you got a taxi from the train station to your church, would the driver know where to go?”<br />David Carr, NLC 2008<br />
A personal case study: <br />The meaning behind the <br />Stour Valley Vineyard logo<br />
We are known locally as simply the Vineyard, so that’s reflected in the weight of the words<br />
But our vision is for the Stour Valley area, as well as obviously needs differentiation from other Vineyard churches<br />
We are not a wine-maker. Recognition of the Vineyard brand is low among the churches and often meaningless to those outside of it<br />
Palette shape: artistic heritage (Thomas Gainsborough & John Constable country)<br />Blue depicts big Suffolk skies<br />Green reflects that we are in a rural area<br />Strapline: encapsulates our excitement for the Christian life in a non-religious way <br />
70%<br />OF OUR DECISION TO BUY IS BASED ON HOW WE ARE TREATED AS PEOPLE<br />Source: Mintel<br />
The way email communication is read is very different to offline communication…<br /><ul><li>Average amount of time readers </li></ul> spend once opening e-newsletter: 51 seconds <br /><ul><li>Recipients fully read only 19%, often not scanning the entire newsletter.
35% of readers scanned only a small part of the newsletter
67% of readers completely skipped introductory text at the top of the newsletter. </li></li></ul><li>e-newsletters<br /><ul><li>Free for up to 5,000 emails a month