I have always enjoyed Technologies for Worship Magazine. It provides great insight into the practicalities of improving the technical excellence of the worship experience. But as a marketing guy, I have also been concerned about how we can take this great message of the Gospel outside the four walls of our churches and into the communities we serve. This is the first of a series of columns which I hope will help you impact your community in a more profound way.
When I first started my company several years ago, a number of Christian leaders questioned my judgment about building a business around marketing ministries. The reaction ranged from, “Can’t you find another word instead of marketing?” to “God doesn’t want us to market our ministry – that’s the role of the Holy Spirit”.
While none of us wants to compete with, or try to take the place of, the Holy Spirit, I am convinced that in our present culture it is absolutely necessary to market our ministry and message if we are to be heard in this media cluttered society. To assume that if we do a good job inside the church that the community will just find us is just naïve. You have to get the word out!
The second problem is that most attempts by churches at marketing are abysmal failures for a number of reasons:
• They don’t really engage the community in an appealing fashion.
• They don’t understand the purposes, strengths, and weaknesses of the various marketing tools available.
• The quality of communication is often sub-par in a world that is bombarded with sophisticated messages and communication tools.
• They send mixed messages to the community because they are not intentional about their branding.
In my opinion, it is time to fix this… That’s why I’m here.
Together we will lift the veil of mystery from the world of branding – marketing – advertising – and communication. We will discover what works and what doesn’t – and more importantly – why! We will explore the emerging communication tools and discuss how to use them efficiently and effectively for the Kingdom of God.
The whole process of effective marketing begins with effective branding. In this issue we are discussing branding in greater detail (pg.35). However, let me just tell you that “branding happens” – whether it is intentional or not. Your ministry is “branded!” Unless you are intentionally defining your brand, you most likely have “brand dilution” – even among your leadership.
Here’s a branding challenge for you. Invite a group of your church leadership to answer the following questions independently on paper. Then compare the results.
1. What are the three most important services your church provides to your community?
2. What 3 adjectives describe the personality of your church?
3. What is the one thing God has called you to do that makes you distinctive from every other church in your area?
If your church is like most, there will be a broad spectrum of replies to these three questions. It doesn’t mean anyone is wrong – but it does mean that you’re communicating a wide variety of messages about your ministry to the congregation and the community. This results in “brand confusion” instead of “brand clarity”.
To achieve brand clarity takes work. It means choices need to be made; messaging needs to be consistent; and common understanding needs to be cultivated. This process is not easy. It takes time, patience and persistence. But, in the end it is worth it!
With brand clarity, everyone on the staff and in leadership are speaking the same language and declaring the same message. Once this is defined, you can begin to communicate your brand at every level and achieve measurable results. Attempting to advertise, market, or communicate to your community without brand clarity only creates confusion and can ultimately harm your effectiveness.
Once you discover and define your ministry brand – it drives all communication messaging. From the design of your logo – to the colors of your palette, from the style of design – to the people you try to reach, from the culture in your organization – to the phrasing of your messaging, everything reflects a clear and consistent brand by which both the congregation and the community know and relate to you.
God has given you an uncommon role in His Kingdom; He as called you to do unique work in your community; He has given you a distinctive message that is only yours to proclaim. You are not “like” anyone else… nor should you try to be.
Discover the clear assignment God has given you – and translate that into a clear and consistent brand that is yours and yours alone.