Align to Church Growth Trends

featured-how-trendsWhat percentage of your products and integrated solutions are ideally fit for the house of worship market? Of that percentage, how many of those products and services are requested by churches out of their need instead of offered to churches out of their potential value? There is an opportunity gap between products that solve problems churches know about and the technologies that bring a game-changer to church-as-usual. Product promotion should align to church growth trends.

The question for the manufacturer or systems integrator is this: Are you aligning product solutions to the growth patterns of churches?

In the early 2000s, I attended an InfoComm show where Doremi Labs (later purchased by Dolby) introduced the V1-HD, a digital video recorder that allowed for simultaneously playing back video while still recording video. The called it “broadcast video time delay,” but I remember thinking of it as time-shifting. It introduced an entirely new set of options for churches that were beginning the multi-site and multi-venue models so that, for the first time, a church service could be recorded and ‘stutter-started’ minutes or hours later in another venue. For churches that were experimenting with different musical style services that started at the same time, this new device meant that the venue with the live sermon could be recording and delaying the playback to match the end of the musical segment in another venue.

This was hugely innovative, but it wasn’t on any church purchase list; not because these churches didn’t have a need, but because they didn’t know the technology was available to align with their needs.

Promotion Is Only Ever One-Way

Part of the problem with promotion as the end-game motivator for a purchase is that it bypasses engagement for the promise of a lower barrier-to-entry. Not entirely bad in and of itself, promotions are helpful for building awareness but do not establish engagement with the receiver.

Don’t think I’m saying not to promote — heck, good advertising is a key to increasing brand awareness. However, it has been my 20+ year experience that the surprising majority of vendors selling to the house of worship market fall far short of doing their best to reach church buyers; they consistently choose the wrong message, promote themselves instead of promoting the prospects’ needs/opportunity, and simply stop at promotion and miss the point of engagement, especially in a socially connected market.

It’s worth noting that churches have had enough experience with technology — in large part because of the age demographic shift in church leadership and the shift downward in the age of staff for newer churches — that the distinction between product promotion and product positioning is not lost on these influencers and buyers.

It’s important to help churches self-identify not only their pain points but also their opportunity points. It’s better business to identify with and sell to a church that prioritizes value over price; it’s the savvy product seller that does themselves the service of aligning technologies to church trends and the fool that promotes on price as the key differentiator. Heck, even if your price is lowest, your best selling point is in solving problems and/or identifying opportunities, as price won’t be a barrier.

Align to Church Growth Trends

So, which trends are prevalent in the House of Worship market? Well, while trends are named such because of particular patterns over time, these trends shift and change to some degree. Still, I’ve written extensively about some of the most prolonged and important trends right here on rAVePubs.com for the last several years and have included a helpful list of links below to help those new to targeting the church market get up-to-speed and highlight some key facts for those already busy selling to churches.

As you check out the list above, think about the products and integrated solutions your firm could offer to the church which aligns with the above trends.

There are more viable and affordable technologies available to help churches than ever before. Why, as a vendor, are you not serving this market well?

Over the past two years, I’ve taken a year-end look at the AVL industry’s best promotions (ads) aimed at this massive market. For those already advertising, see if your ads made the cut; if not, question why the ads I chose may likely be better than yours. And for those vendors coming back towards the church market, consider how your firm could do even better than the ads that made the list for the past two years.

Top House of Worship Ads of 2014

Top House of Worship Ads of 2015

Make the shift away from mere promotion to product and service alignment. Put simply: Align to church growth trends.

Do you agree with the author’s distinction between ‘promotion’ and ‘alignment’? Share your views and opinions in the comments below.