Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Rules of Marketing

One of the results of our planning process late last year is we at Chain of Lakes are trying to upgrade our on-line presence and use that presence as an Evangelism tool. At our last Outreach meeting at Chain of Lakes someone brought three books about on-line marketing. At the meeting I asked what book I should read. I was given “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” by David Meerman Scott.

Scott rightly claimed that the old rules of marketing are done. Just putting an ad in a newspaper or sending out a press release are part of the old rules of marketing. He encouraged businesses and non-profits to create and develop interesting stories and then share them across multiple platforms—via a web site, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and video.

He shared many examples in his book of companies and non-profits who successfully used these strategies. Scott talked about the strategies that National Community Church in Washington D.C have used to build their congregation. Their web site—theaterchurch.com—includes a content-rich web site, podcasts of weekly worship, a motivational Webcast series, video, and email newsletter, and Batteron’s Evotional blog. On their staff they have positions for media pastor, digital pastor, and buzz coordinator. Batterson said that more people watch the podcast of worship than attend worship. These podcasts are an entry for people. Folks have a sense of what the church is about before they walk through the door.

I am not trained in marketing or publicity. I think I can speak for most pastors that all of these multiple ways to publicize our churches seem overwhelming to us. I remember when having video projection in worship was cutting edge. Now that is accepted practice in most churches.

At Chain of Lakes we’ve dipped our toes into these new rules of marketing. I’m blogging about twice a week; through my own Facebook page I try to generate traffic on our blog, in the next few weeks we will be launching a new web site; we’re posting my sermons on-line and using Facebook as a portal so that people can view the sermons. We’re already using targeted Facebook ads and decreasing our newspaper publicity.

We have a lot of room for improvement, but at least we’re trying some of these new communication methods.

We are fortunate at Chain of Lakes in that we have people in our new congregation who are very interested in using these multiple platforms to communicate our ministry. I see my role as encouraging everyone who is excited about using these new communication methods. I don’t claim to be an expert on these methods—though I have opinions about them. My role is to stay out of the way and not muck up the plans that our folks have for getting out the word about our ministries. And my role is to remind the people who are revolted by these changes that the Holy Spirit is always calling us to change.

I don’t think that the church is called to be the leader in technological change; however I do believe that we must stay relevant in how we use technology. Jesus was very relevant in his ministry in the 1st century. If he was alive in the 21st century, I believe he would be using video blogs to share his message. I’m proud that one of the Core Values of Chain of Lakes Church is relevance. In the north metro we at Chain of Lakes don’t want to feel old or out-dated.

My head is still spinning after reading Scott’s book. I encourage other religious leaders to take a spin.


David Meerman Scott said...

Thanks so much for reading my book and sharing your thoughts.

Isn't what Mark has done at National Community Church amazing?

Good luck implementing the ideas.

David said...

Reaching the unchurched and dechurched is a challenge. A simple newspaper does not seem to be a motivator to attend. Increasingly, people are becoming accustomed to interaction and participation through social media, before commiting to pysically attend an event or service. Potentialy, they may become affiliated (from their point a view)without the churches' knowledge

Chainoflakesncd said...

You are so right, David, in that the way the unchurched interact with a church is different. I find that people have done quite a lot of research on churches before they even walk in the door. This means that an authentic, on-line presence is even more important than before. In the past a person would see a physical building and think, "I'll try that church out." Today I think people go on-line, research a church, and then try it out.

Dennis said...

Just finished your comments. we are starting a web page at CPC Plainview. you can check in on it as it prgresses.

Anonymous said...

Great insight from someone trying out the process. I have also read Meerman Scott's book (in a class for college) and found it very helpful. I think it's great that your church is embracing social media and search engine optimization services to increase your congregation. The goal of any church is to be able to share the message of the lord with as many people as you can, and in today's internet world, this is the best way to do that. I hope things continue to go well for you and your church.