Shotguns vs. Sniper Rifles: Methods of Church Communication
When you have a message that needs to get out, the first thought is to get that message out to as many people as possible. If more people are able to see the message more people are likely to respond to it; it’s a game of percentages. For national campaigns that are purposed to build identification with a brand this strategy works well. Blockbuster movies, fast food, automobiles, and other universal products that have appeal to most demographics thrive on this sort of communication. Your Church announcement does not.
Even within these monoliths of production and advertising you begin to see much more focused niche marketing when it comes to their specialty products. Their decisions on communication are centered on the demographic they are targeting. The method of communication depends on a key decision long before crafting the message: who will be interested in this?
The church can learn something from these patterns of communication. Many churches have built massive email lists that they use to blast their messages out. I call this the shotgun approach: you spray a blast of pellets and pray they hit your target. The assumption behind this model is that if someone signed up for the email list, they want to hear what you have to say, simply because you’re saying it.
This may be true. Some people may want to hear anything and everything you say. But in most cases, you’re probably training people to disregard your message by consistently sending them information that is not relevant to them. if your message is repetitive and not limited to the people who need it, people quickly learn to skip over your emails after the first few viewings.
The shotgun approach is outdated and we need to start our communication the same way other organizations in the world do it. We need to define our audience before we communicate. Who in our sphere of influence will be interested in this particular information? Is it relevant to married couples or singles? What age range and economic level would be interested? Is it targeted toward men or women? These are just the beginning of the questions to ask as you craft and broadcast your message.
As you begin to hone in on who this message is relevant to, you’re using a method more akin to a sniper rifle. You aren’t just hitting targets at random; you choose the target you want. (This metaphor works great in Texas, but if the gun references offend you, remember our bullets here are invitations to engage and interact in the body of Christ.)
Whether you are communicating the Gospel or promoting the next youth retreat, first think about who you should be targeting. Once you know who the message is relevant to, you can target the announcements to those individuals. This affects everything from emails to announcements before service.
Modern communication is individualized, so to keep from being lost in the noise, churches have to learn to target better. The City offers a system in which information is stored in one place that everyone in the church can access, so they always know where to go when they need something specific. It also offers the group structures that allow for targeted communication to specific groups. Even if you aren’t on The City, think about breaking out your communication into targeted groups. Use a solution that allows you to see how well your audience is receiving and engaging your communications, so that you can continue to adjust and adapt your strategy to hit just the right people.
At the end of the day, communication method is a valuable consideration only because what we’re communicating is valuable. The message of the Gospel is too important to be kicked aside with the rest of the world’s noise.