The average person receives between 100-120 emails a day.
The average person bounces between seven different social networks per month.
The average person sees around 10,000 ads per day.
The average person sends 72 texts per day.
The average millennial picks up the smartphone 150 times a day.
You may be looking at these numbers and wondering how to communicate your church’s message when so many other messages are vying for your audience’s attention.
The truth is that consumers today are well connected. Between social media, email, videos, texting, podcasts, mailers, and TV, communicating your message to your audience may feel impossible. Why? Because we live in a noisy world where the average human attention span is 8 seconds.
We live in a world of information overload.
As a church leader, how can you connect and engage with your audience? It begins with Strategic Communication.
I define Strategic Communication as “Intentional communication that advances an organization’s goals and is specifically aligned with the mission and vision.” The goal? To engage our audience through intentional communication.
The key word here is intentional. Gone are the days when we could print out a bulletin and share it on Sunday. We can no longer use social media just to share about our upcoming services. Instead, we have to be strategic, purposeful, and intentional.
How do we do this? Here are five strategic steps you must take before communicating with your audience, both offline and online:
- Know your audience: Every church has a target audience. Yes, we want to reach everyone with the good news of Jesus, but every church has a specific audience they are trying to reach. This particular audience consists of many different factors:
What is the makeup of your city, the demographics? Who resides there? Age, race, ethnicity, income level, marital status, education, and employment?
What is the psychographics of your city/target audience? What does your target audience value, and what are their personality characteristics, beliefs, goals, interests, habits, and lifestyle?
If you want to successfully connect and engage with the people your church is called to reach (both internal and external), you must know who they are at an intimate level. Research, dig deep, and create an avatar that shows and describes the person you aim to reach and serve in your city.
- Know how your audience communicates: Once you know who your audience is, you can research how they prefer to communicate. Your church may want to focus on serving Millennials, but your communication has been face-to-face interactions and phone calls, which is what Baby Boomers prefer. If you feel called to serve Millennials, you must know that they best communicate via short messages and texting.
Knowing your audience’s preferred communication method will allow you to connect and engage with them in new ways!
- Know the preferred learning methods of your audience: We’ve all heard the importance of differentiated instruction, where you tailor your teaching to meet individual needs. This can include visual and/or auditory learning. But, if we want to connect and engage with our online and offline audience, we have to go deeper.
It’s been said that GenXers want relevancy while Millennials want interaction, and they want it quick. Knowing your target audience will help you create messages that engage your audience. For example, suppose you are reaching GenXers. When you create posts and/or videos for online consumption, make sure that it’s relevant to who they are and the obstacles and challenges they are navigating in life right now. If you are reaching Millennials, make sure that you allow them to interact (think through small groups, group chats, FB Live videos, etc.) and share your message “quickly” (meaning, don’t spend 5-minutes on a video sharing small talk when they want the meat of the message quickly).
Knowing the preferred learning method of your audience will help you connect and engage with them at a deeper level.
- Know that consistency matters: The key to success is consistency, which is true for the church too. If you’re serious about reaching the people your church is called to reach, you must be consistent in your online and offline communication.
If you move forward with social media, you have to take the time to create engaging content that will connect with your audience. You have to put a plan in place. What stories will you share? Whose stories will you share? What videos will you create? Who will be involved? If you move forward with offline communication, you must be consistent. What will it look like? Who will be involved? When will it happen?
In a world filled with lots of noise and information, the one thing people are looking for is consistency. Creating a strategic communication plan will help you move forward with consistency. Why? Because you’ll know what direction you are heading in, rather than just implementing something and hoping it sticks.
- Know that systems will impact your results: If there is one last piece of advice I can offer, it is this: have one communication point person. Creating and implementing a strategic communication plan will require that you have a point person who leads this endeavor rather than adding this to the job description of someone else.
Church communication can no longer be an afterthought. Connecting with your audience will require that you have someone who can put systems in place that allow consistency around messaging, voice, brand, and mission. If you have no systems in place, your communication will be chaotic and inconsistent. If you have systems in place, your communication will be clear and consistent.
Excellence in church communication begins with a strategic communication plan!