How to Make a Winning HoW Advertisement

The house of worship (HoW) market easily exceeds $1 billion (U.S.) in sales each year for audiovisual systems and gear. Yet, the market continues to be one with a mere handful of vendors effectively targeting and selling consistently into this underserved vertical space for the AV industry. With over six years of historical precedent and the release of the Top HoW Ads of 2019, we know there are certain tried and true elements to make a successful HoW advertisement. If manufacturers and systems integrators begin focusing on these elements and placing greater emphasis on the HoW market, it will no longer be dominated by these select vendors.

With any winning marketing strategy, advertising is only a small part of an overall campaign. We at rAVe think that with a bit of focused effort and some helpful insights, there could be a substantial opportunity in 2020 and beyond for AV vendors to show up with quality church market campaigns. With that in mind, we’ve highlighted two key focus areas to amp up HoW ads: copywriting and landing pages.

Focus Your Message. Don’t Pander to Churches.

Take a look at the top ads from previous years, and you’ll find that the best ones don’t bother with trite phrases, generic imagery or cliché visual metaphors. Instead, the most memorable ads focus the message and align the visuals to the value proposition. They have a precise alignment of AV solutions to the unique needs and pain points of churches.

The ads below are from the 2018 Top House of Worship Ads from Vimeo as well as the 2015 Top House of Worship Ads from Sony. Both advertisements stand out as prime examples of what works well in a targeted church market advertisement.

What’s great about the 2018 Vimeo ad:

  • The ad campaign focuses on reaching a church’s congregants, a remarkably high priority for churches everywhere.
  • The call to action (CTA) to download the brochure leads to an exquisitely-designed landing page complete with actual video as the page background.
  • In fact, there are two different 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 a marketing qualified lead (MQL) to a sales qualified lead (SQL).
  • The landing page: Once on the page, Vimeo’s nuance in engaging the reader balances information with value and insight. The screen capture above is a simple visualization right from the landing page, which makes it easy and intuitive to understand how Vimeo’s service works for those looking to dive into the technical details.

What’s great about the 2015 Sony ad:

  • The ad doesn’t have any product photos or signal flow diagrams because anything else would cheapen the message and skew the reach to a smaller market segment. Even the call-to-action URL includes a nod to understanding this market (faith) without pandering to the audience.
  • The landing page is unique to the House of Worship market and nothing else. This signals a strong focus by one of the most notable brands in the world.
  • To Sony’s credit, it identifies strongly with churches of all sizes and denominations — no small feat.
  • This is likely co-op marketing where the vendor, Omega Broadcast Group, utilized Sony’s marketing funds and focused (brilliantly) on Sony’s Faith market to align themselves with Sony’s commitment to the church market. The CTA for Omega was an awareness campaign to see the company’s booth at an upcoming church market expo, WFX. This understated approach placed the focus on Sony, not Omega, though Omega Broadcast Group wisely positioned itself with the mighty Sony brand name.
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Though both ads above from the previous year’s Top Ads lists use some church-centric terms (“believe,” spread the “word”), neither pandered with a cheap phrase to sound “churchy,” and the messages come across as genuine and authentic. Further, these ads focus on the brand value proposition over product features and/or benefits, which signal to the church AV buyer that these brands are serious about serving churches.

Landing Pages Exclusively for Church AV Buyers

Landing pages are unique URLs designed to present web content for a specific market segment, product or service. For the HoW market, landing pages should focus on addressing the consistent pain points and growth opportunities for churches so that the vendor’s offerings fit the unique market needs with clarity.

Landing pages also use those unique URLs so that they are trackable by the vendor’s marketing department to correlate return on investment (ROI) with the ad spend. Even with print ads, these unique URLs should provide a detailed view into which ads are generating interest and which pages convert to new leads and, eventually, sales.
Finally, the best landing pages are unique to a particular vertical market — or, even more granularly, a specific persona within a vertical market segment. Below is a prime example from Canon, a winner from 2018’s Top House of Worship Ads.

What’s great about the 2018 Canon ad:

  • The church market-focused landing page shows the HoW vertical market industries section of the website.
  • Part of the brilliance in this particular campaign by Canon is the link to an anchor on the landing page, which automatically opens up with the video case study of one of the company’s church clients. This is quite effective, as the reader doesn’t even need to read the first sentence before they’re being introduced to another church telling its story and highlighting the value of its choice in selecting Canon lenses.
  • The use of video is a bonus that works well. Still, the copywriting and content on the landing page are customer-focused instead of feature/benefit-oriented, which makes this even more powerful as an example.

Takeaways for Vendors Advertising to Churches

As always, here’s my helpful advice for marketing to this massive vertical market:

  • Define your church market personas and know your target audience well; not all churches need the same solutions.
  • Sell your unique value proposition over your product’s features and benefits.
  • Connect with and promise to solve the user’s pain points.
  • Learn which images and photographs serve your best target demographic in the HoW space.
  • Use compelling, singularly-focused landing pages that invite the prospect to learn more with a non-existent barrier to entry.
  • Track your marketing efforts and measure what’s working — and why — with a unique URL that is either the landing page or a page that automatically redirects to the landing page so that link tracking can show which publication advertisement prompted the user to visit said landing page.

The HoW market comprises over 300,000 different churches in North America alone. Add to that the crazy growth of multisite and multi-venue church campuses — and the obvious intersection of your products and churches should be crystal clear. Make that clarity visible with your church market advertisements.