Top House of Worship Ads of 2018

Five years of highlighting the best, touching on the worst and recommending some serious advertising changes for the audiovisual industry around the House of Worship (HoW) market has a few companies embracing the church market, but most manufacturers and systems integrators still have a lot to learn about reaching church buyers. The top House of Worship ads of 2018 are included below, as well as a couple that could use some work.

Here on the HoW blog at rAVe, we’ve published hundreds of articles on how to advertise to, engage with and sell into the church market. Each December, we highlight the top House of Worship ads of the year in our best attempt to showcase what’s working and put a spotlight on areas which need serious improvement. All of this is done for you, the AVL industry vendor, because we’ve seen the buying power of churches and recognize the multi-billion dollar industry as one that has been perennially underserved.

In 2018, the top HoW ads sees only two truly outstanding companies highlighted in our annual review. For reasons we describe in detail below, these two firms have taken a serious, holistic, approach to creating a clear focus on the HoW vertical market. These two AVL firms have invested in the church buyer’s journey with truly excellent marketing best practices.

We’ve also included a few less-than-stellar examples to highlight what they are doing well, where there’s a disconnect, and even recommend immediate changes not only to their ad campaigns but use them as helpful examples to learn from for all AVL vendors interested in serving the church market.

Top HoW Ads for 2018

Canon

Ad Campaign: The Power to Bring People Together
  • Specific focus on HoW is clear and doesn’t end with the advertisement, but continues through to the website
  • Imagery representative of churches across a large cross-section of styles and venues
  • Clear product alignment with the HoW market with a promise (“the power to bring people together”) which is explored and explained on the HoW section of their website and landing pages
  • Digital edition includes clickable Call-To-Action (CTA) to a specific landing page (https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/explore/industries/worship/case-studies#eastside_baptist_church)
  • Vertical market copywriting targets a wide variety of church sizes and denominations
Canon created a strong ad campaign to promote their video production lenses to churches. While Canon’s current tagline is “see impossible,” they wisely chose a more specific and actionable tagline for their House of Worship marketing with the phrase “the power to bring people together.” This is an emotive, effective promise which aligns extremely well with one of the actual stated purposes of local churches: connecting people.

The Canon HoW market advertisement

The ad copy goes on to bring further clarity of their value proposition by highlighting various applications which are common to churches and declares that their products actually help churches become more efficient in bringing people together. Though slightly hyperbolic, the brand promise is one that will resonate with church buyers and decision-makers due to the altruistic nature of the stated purpose of these purchases.
Additionally:

The digital version of the advertisement (which was found in a digital magazine) could easily be repurposed for social media ads, Google Ads and a myriad of other platforms and channels, each with a custom landing page to track the ad source more easily and calculate ROI.

Part of the brilliance in this particular campaign by Canon is the link to an anchor on a landing page which automatically opens up with the video case study of one of their church clients. This is quite effective, as the user doesn’t even need to read one sentence before they’re being introduced to another church telling their story and highlighting the value of their choice in selecting Canon lenses.

The testimonial video from Eastside Baptist Church for Canon

Canon’s power to bring people together campaign included many of the ingredients and best practices we’ve covered here at rAVe over the years for targeting the HoW market. The only recommendation would be to spend more time/resources on building up the SEO for the landing page and increase the page rank for common searches since this page was not found using Google search but rather only through the ad click itself.

Vimeo Livestream

Ad Campaign: Reach your congregation LIVE
  • Specific focus on HoW is clear and doesn’t end with the advertisement, but continues through to the website
  • Clear product alignment with the HoW market and a beautifully-designed landing page which uses actual church video as the page background, which highlights the power of their promise
  • The digital ad includes clickable CTA to landing page offer (https://livestream.com/solutions/worship) for the Live Streaming Guide for Churches
  • Vertical market copywriting targets a wide variety of church sizes and denominations
  • Clear call to action with two options (passive and active)

Vimeo delivered two versions of the same ad; one targeting modern churches and the other more traditional churches (see below). In both cases, the call to action is the same and the link identical.

The Vimeo Livestream side-by-side view of the two versions of the advertisement

Vimeo has swung for the fences with this ad campaign and may end up with a walk-off home run if churches respond to this ad like we did. In 2017 Vimeo acquired Livestream and this ad campaign brings the best of that merger together for the benefit of the consumer.

The Vimeo Livestream landing page

The ad campaign is focused on reaching your congregants and the CTA to download the brochure leads to an exquisitely-designed landing page complete with actual video as the page background and two CTA options: get the guide — a passive, at-your-own-pace action and talk to a streaming expert, an active engagement CTA to begin the conversion from Marketing Qualified Lead to a Sales Qualified Lead.
Once on the page, Vimeo’s nuance in engaging the reader balances information with value and insight. The graphic below is a simple visualization right from the landing page which makes it easy and intuitive to understand how it works for those looking to dive into the technical details.

A simple next step built-in to the Vimeo Livestream landing page for churches

Additionally:
  • One of the largest media platforms in the world sees the opportunity for the HoW market
  • Automated email response to download with a link to an on-demand webinar for getting started with streaming for churches

Vimeo has set the bar for 2019 audiovisual ads targeting the church market. Fortunately, there is nothing inherently difficult or expensive about their approach; Vimeo simply executed very, very well. This is great news for all AVL vendors because the bar is reachable.

See also  Future of AV: Merging of Product Development and Marketing

Room for Improvement

Electronic Theatre Controls

Ad Campaign: We are where you are
  • The imagery could be from a modern church or a theatre; lacks specificity and alignment
  • The copywriting doesn’t link to a page to explain the statement or align with the sentiment.
  • Passive CTA with no discernible value for church buyers links to their blog archive (https://blog.etcconnect.com/category/spotlight/) with no church-focused content highlighted

The ETC full-page ad for print and digital magazines.

The full page and banner animated GIF ads from ETC are from an ad series which states ‘we are where you are.’ Potential ubiquity aside, the tagline may bring up memories of seeing other ETC lighting instruments and lighting systems in other church venues, but it doesn’t immediately translate to a strong value proposition for the church buyer.

The ETC digital advertisement

Sure, the map ‘you are here’ pin icon built-in to the image is clever, but does it translate to a compelling reason for church buyers and influencers to click that banner ad (which has no CTA) and discover what ETC had in mind?

Even in a best-case scenario where the user does click, they only land on the ETC blog archive page. And not even a categorized or a filtered list of blogs focused on churches or applications useful to church buyers, but instead the raw, generic blog archive page. This makes no sense and offers no clear next step for the user considering ETC for their next purchase. The user now has to begin navigating the site or blogs to figure out their next possible steps without any guidance. Clearly, this is not a good idea.

The ETC Lighting Fixtures page – which includes a Market category, but no church option?

Additionally:
  • While ETC will have tracking information on the blog section of their website to see the originating clicks (from a church production magazine, for example), there’s no identifier for the prospect themselves nor is there a way to engage or capture any information about the prospect, their church or even the problem they’re trying to solve.
In addition to my above comments, I’d add that AVL advertisers could learn from this by focusing vertically in ads instead of generically, as is this case with this particular ad from ETC. The key is to focus not only on personas but also on vertical markets. The ad can target by application or by venue but must address the problem or opportunity head-on and establish a value that is compelling specifically for that market segment. Urge the user to click or want to learn more not about your solution, but by showing them you can address their issue.
In 2016, I selected ETC as a winner with their ad but recommended many of the same landing page and CTA actions I’ve highlighted above. I’ll ask again, as I did then: “Are you even listening, ETC?”
They, like many advertisers targeting church buyers, could do much better with such minimal changes.

Vaddio

Ad Campaign: All-in-one Streaming Solution
  • There is a specific focus on HoW, which is good
  • However, the imagery is only representative of traditional churches, though modern churches are statistically more likely to buy these systems
  • The copywriting doesn’t link to a page to explain the statement/tagline or align with the sentiment stated in the ad
  • Passive CTA with no custom URL or offer, even though there is a page for HoW on their site (http://www.vaddio.com/markets/worship)

Vaddio has advertised consistently to churches for a while now, as is evidenced by the ad below found in a Worship Facilities Magazine digital edition (hence the tradeshow red banner call out). At first glance, it’s a typical audiovisual ad targeting churches. And that’s exactly what’s wrong with it: there’s nothing about adding value for the church or solving a key problem or resonating with the church buyer. It’s generic pablum and recite-in-your-sleep sales schlep promoting benefits and a bit of the feature set. So. What.

The swing-in-a-miss here is that there’s nothing compelling about this ad. At best it’s brand awareness for those who just happen to be looking for a streaming solution when it could have been an ad that delivered on a brand promise or addressed a common problem or opportunity for the vast majority of churches that are not actively looking for a streaming solution, but could benefit from the outreach, connection and engagement with their congregants and community at large.

The Vadio digital advertisement

Additionally:
  • On the upside, Vaddio has created a vertical market subsection on their website exclusively for House of Worship. Once at this web page, the copywriting and resources offered do provide helpful links and even short training videos, as well as a few case studies. Unfortunately, much like the ad, copywriting is generic and focuses on features and benefits instead of being value-focused or addressing a common issue or challenge to overcome. 
  • The ad itself and the HoW page on the website both are product-centric and focus on the brand rather than on the value proposition for the target audience of church buyers and influencers. 

The Vaddio web page dedicated to the House of Worship Market

The comparison to Vimeo’s Livestream offering is noteworthy because the contrast between the two ads is notable on multiple fronts. Though both are focused on live streaming for churches, a side-by-side comparison reveals far greater persona clarity with Vimeo and a refined, nuanced online experience with clear calls-to-action for both the passive user and active buyer. This recommendation is not merely for Vaddio. All manufacturers and even systems integrators can learn from the approach and execution by Vimeo (above) as a textbook-quality example of identifying with the targeted persona and providing clear paths for education, learning and engagement.

As with past years, we’ve looked to provide an objective, helpful set of metrics and useful insights to help the AV industry at large reach more church buyers. After all, a bilion-dollar-per-year industry in the United States alone is worth any AV vendor’s attention. Perhaps the advertising in 2019 will begin to reflect the size and buying power of this still underserved market.
Anthony Coppedge

About Anthony Coppedge

Anthony is an Agile Marketing evangelist and Agile-certified coach. He teaches the proven and unmatched success of Agile for aligning Marketing teams to business outcomes for measurably better deliverables with greater frequency and impact. He has been consulting, teaching, and speaking to leaders since 2003 and writing for rAVe since 2012. Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn.