One of the things we’ve noticed while working with small businesses is that there can often be a reluctance to spend money on marketing. The reason is that many companies have tight budgets and feel very uncertain about the results they’ll achieve from marketing initiatives. They may have also invested in marketing projects in the past, without clearly defined goals, that ended up feeling like a big waste of time and money.
We’ve also worked with Fortune 500 companies where budgets are much more flexible, and what would be a major expenditure for a mom and pop shop is chump change used to tidy up a presentation for next week’s c-level portfolio meeting.
Whether small or large, the most successful companies are the ones that approach marketing from a goal-oriented perspective. They understand the results they want to achieve, and they are willing to invest in the right partner to help get the job done. Without clearly defined goals, it’s hard to envision the outcome of marketing efforts, and it’s difficult to prioritize what course of action to take. Oftentimes an organization will throw a small amount of marketing budget at a really big problem hoping that it will make a dent.
But from our perspective, this is actually a bigger waste of time and money than just doing nothing. We’ve learned to just say no to companies that want to solve their marketing problems but aren’t willing to invest in the solutions that are required to fix them. But even more importantly, we’ve learned to help clients see the value in attacking marketing problems with the tools and strategies that can actually have an impact. We do this by helping them focus on results and showing how marketing spend leads to a desirable outcome. It all starts with setting clearly defined goals.
People go online to find information and make decisions about everything
So when it comes to digital marketing for churches and Christian organizations, the question comes down to this, “are there any goals that the tools and strategies of digital marketing can help achieve?” Yes, there definitely are. Spreading awareness for a church plant in a neighborhood with diverse demographics, inspiring donors to support a non-profit impacting the community, attracting students to a new seminary struggling with name-recognition—all of these are problems that digital marketing can help solve.
More and more people are going online to find information and make decisions these days. So much information is available at people’s fingertips, and this leads to at least two challenges for the average church or organization. On the one hand, it’s far more likely that people will tune out information that they do not care about. And on the other, it’s far easier for people to find precise solutions for the exact problem they are trying to solve.
Let’s apply this to the church. Say a new couple moves to the area looking for a good church to attend. Fifteen years ago, they might have relied on driving around the neighborhood, getting tips from friends and family, or contacting a former pastor for recommendations. Nowadays, it’s far easier to just pull out a smartphone and look up churches that might be a good fit.
Don’t believe me? Try googling “best churches near me” and watch what shows up. Now get more specific along the lines of what you might look for. Maybe something like “evangelical churches near me.” Or maybe try “churches with great worship music near me.” It’s easier than ever to find a church that checks off what people consider to be their essential requirements. How many 5-star reviews did your church receive?
The categorization of information and the ability to filter only what we think is important is one of the most basic features of the information age. With the explosion of information available at everyone’s fingertips, there has to be a way to break down the data and sort through the forest until we finally find our ideal flower patch. This process happens a lot faster now that we have robust search engines that capture vivid details along with pictures and videos and make it all accessible in a few seconds.
People decide things at the speed of their finger tips
People can (and do) decide what they think about an establishment (read: church, seminary, non-profit organization) before they ever enter the door or interact with a live person. Within a few clicks or swipes, they’ve made up their mind about where they’ll go to solve a problem, whether it’s getting the oil changed, ordering a pizza, or finding spiritual encouragement and fellowship.
This is just one reason why we think it’s important for the church to take digital marketing seriously. There has to be a way for people to find the best solutions to their needs. Are we talking about finding the coolest music, the shortest sermons, and the best vibes? No, hopefully these are not the default categories people use to determine what’s best.
But how will people know what good things to look for if churches only advertise themselves on the superficial level? What if they don’t promote themselves at all? How will prospective church leaders know where they can get deep theological training if seminaries don’t make known their theological convictions in a way that can be found?
These problems are not insurmountable. With a little knowledge and setting the right goals, churches and Christian organizations can connect with the people they are trying to reach using powerful online channels. That’s where Interamark fits in. We want to use the experience we’ve gained helping businesses connect with their customers to help churches and Christian organizations reach new audiences and have an impact for Christ.