Does Church Marketing Still Suck?: Dawn Nicole Baldwin

Does Church Marketing Still Suck?: Dawn Nicole Baldwin

July 21, 2014 by

Editor’s Note: Today our 10-year anniversary series asking if church marketing still sucks turns to marketing strategist Dawn Nicole Baldwin (she’s also one of our former board members). We’ll be discussing this question all month long, so check out the other posts and share your thoughts.

Does church marketing still suck?

Yes and no.

No, It Doesn’t Suck:

The good news is I think we’ve come a long way in the past decade:

  • Most of us don’t see the terms “marketing” or “branding” as dirty words anymore.
  • We’ve made real strides in understanding the communications department is more than a drive-thru service for ministries.
  • Many are putting communication directors on the senior leadership team and thinking more strategically of the role as a whole.
  • We understand everything communicates—from the parking lot to the bulletin to the check-in process for children’s ministry. The guest experience matters.

Yes, It Still Sucks:

The bad news is in an attempt to communicate more effectively, most of us are over communicating. Everything is delivered at the same volume at the same time without much of a process to triage what is most important.

We live in a cluttered, distracted world with everything competing for attention. Yet we tend to add to the noise with ministries competing with each other, in addition to the messages bombarding our congregations from the rest of the world.

We need to be curators of content—deciding what gets communicated when and where. Because when everything is important, nothing is.

Grocery aisle where every item has a sale tag.

Recent trip to my local grocery store.

How to Decide What’s Important:

Using a process leadership agrees upon in advance helps to make these decisions feel a little less personal. It takes the emotion out of the equation so the communication director isn’t left trying to explain why the Knitting Ministry for Lefties with Red Hair won’t have a platform announcement.

I’ve used this quick illustration to help bring focus and clarity to this idea for the churches we work with:

Opportunities vs. the Size of the Spotlight

The highest visibility opportunities are at the top of the pyramid but there’s only room for a few. However, the key is to flip the pyramid to determine how much attention should be given to each category.

Questions to Help Get Started:

  • What events and opportunities apply to most people attending each weekend? (High visibility)
  • What are high visibility next steps, large side doors or areas we want to strategically promote? (Medium visibility)
  • What about everything else? (Light visibility)

The challenge is deciding in advance which channels and tools are available for each category and what is used when. Most of us wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to hang a picture. We need to ensure we’re using the right tools at the right time to ensure our message is heard.

If we’re all screaming, but no one is listening, does it really matter what we’re trying to say?

What do you think: Does church marketing still suck?

Post By:

Dawn Nicole Baldwin

For almost 20 years Dawn Nicole Baldwin has worked with ministries of all shapes and sizes to help them tell their stories more effectively. As co-founder and lead strategist of AspireOne, she’s always on the go as a coach, consultant, occasional blogger and sought-after speaker.
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6 Responses to “Does Church Marketing Still Suck?: Dawn Nicole Baldwin”

  • Emily Kantner
    July 21, 2014

    You make a great point about churches sometimes adding to the noise with competing messages from different ministries–especially a problem when there’s conflict and disagreement among ministry leaders. Good insight!

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    • Dawn Nicole Baldwin
      July 21, 2014

      Thanks, Emily! Without clear direction from senior leadership, it can be hard to say whose message is more important than another. (And it’s not fair to place this on the shoulders of Communications without leadership support)

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  • Jan
    July 21, 2014

    Great post Dawn. I think we in ministry can forget how busy daily life is for people. It’s kind of a miracle that they’re even willing to take on one more thing (a connection group or volunteering). It’s our job to do the hard work of filtering & prioritizing for them, to make that “1 more thing” really count.

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    • Dawn Nicole Baldwin
      July 21, 2014

      You are so right, Jan. This is especially true for the “core” volunteers of a church. Oftentimes they are getting bombarded by a slew of emails (or actual mail) from different areas within the church.

      Coordinating efforts to minimize the volume of content sent can help a ton.

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  • Travis
    July 23, 2014

    Great article Dawn. What do you think about church’s use of social media–especially twitter and FB? Does this just add to the “noise” or can it be an effective mode of branding , marketing, etc?

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    • Dawn Nicole Baldwin
      July 23, 2014

      Thanks for your kind words, Travis. Yes, I think social media is a critical component to connecting people & also a great way to help bigger churches feel “small.”

      But it needs to be done well–consistently & with intentionality. If a church doesn’t have a lot of resources to dedicate, start with just one channel. Don’t try to tackle everything at the same time. Post content that is more personable… think “behind the scenes” stuff that typically wouldn’t be posted on the homepage, as well as alerts for key opportunities and events. (Photos/stories of a recent missions trip, prepping for the big summer picnic or serving event, etc.)

      Social is just that–social. It’s a great way to build community and relationships in a more personal way to help people feel connected to the church & others.

      There are folks who specialize in social content development strategies and helping churches get started, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed.

      Good luck!

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