It’s day four out of five for LAVNCH WEEK — the industry’s first all-digital launch event we’ve been putting on with Zoom and our partners this week — and today was House of Worship (HoW) day. This day was created specifically for two audiences: house of worship integrators and AV/IT providers (maybe even volunteers) who run church AV systems. That covers a vast span of people who may be involved in specifying or running church technology, so we wanted to make sure our keynote presenter for the day could speak the language of all these audiences.
That’s exactly what we got from Anthony Coppedge, a digital sales and marketing consultant; veteran consultant in the house-of-worship space; and member of the rAVe [PUBS] BlogSquad with almost 200 articles specifically on this space. Today, Coppedge brought our HoW readership and LAVNCH WEEK viewers some much-needed insights on stats, facts and opportunity on this (billion-dollar) market.
Let’s jump right into the recap.
Why HoW is interesting
Coppedge jumped right in too: What’s interesting about the HoW market is that the application for technology and what’s needed is all over the map. As are the people who need to implement that technology is houses of worship, Coppedge added. For instance, there’s the mega-church (defined as greater than 2,000 attendees on any given weekend, though most have many more than that). But that’s just one type of church here. There are plenty more, and we’ll get into them soon.
Most of the churches that want to stream or use AV want to leverage the technology because it’s the medium by which so much happens in our culture.
So how do we support these teams and show them what’s possible, with such a vast audience to accommodate?
HoW technology is all over the map
Coppedge’s advice: start with TWA. That’s your typical weekly attendance, which determines who shows up to church versus who is just a member — that TWA figure will define who will engage, who will volunteer, etc. TWA provides a better understanding of the scope and reach of the church as opposed to just looking at its membership.
He continues that the vast major of churches are well under 500, but, for implementing technology and AV, we’re mostly looking at the growth opportunities in spaces with TWAs of 500 or more. That doesn’t mean smaller churches don’t matter! But for consistent opportunities to sell and service churches with AV, 500+ tends to be the market segment that’s most represented.
Whether it’s very involved or super simple (some churches use LED digital walls and livestreaming, while others just focus on projection), the tech can be an integral part of that weekend worship experience. How do we support and show these church teams what’s possible? Turns out you can actually do a lot with very little.
To better guide us in his keynote and on this topic, Coppedge hones in on three key points:
- What is the HoW market like?
- How do you sell to the HoW market?
- How do you market to HoW in a way that helps them understand you get them?
What is the HoW market like?
In this niche industry (HoW) within a niche industry (AV), you have:
- Multisite churches. These are churches that look at a zip code’s population density and decide to put campuses in areas where they can have a national brand but a local presence. As of 2014, there were more than 8,000 multi-site churches (and we know for sure that figure is higher today) in America alone.
- Portable churches. These churches are actually meeting in spaces like movie theaters or retail centers, where organizations rent a space to set up and tear down every week. Coppedge says there’s a huge technology opportunity here — of course, different from a purely fixed install.
- Church plants. These are new churches created from larger churches, Coppedge explains. These tend to succeed and do really well, even without satellite campuses.
- Use of midsize venues. And then you have church organizations that use average- to midsize venues (approximately 500-750 seats) because they require lower costs to build and maintain, with fewer staff and volunteers needed too. In this format, churches can scale without as large of a capital investment.
We got a ton of great data and information from Coppedge next, and I won’t recap it all here because I certainly won’t do it justice. You can read any of Coppedge’s articles on rAVe [PUBS] or, specifically, the one he mentioned in his keynote about the multisite church model.
“How” do you sell to HoW?
Like any market, Coppedge explains, you have end users and you have decision makers. Someone who’s deeply into the tech may not always have the authority to make the final purchase decision — sometimes, the ones who have the purchase authority don’t have the tech knowledge; it’s an inverse relationship; you have to be able to speak to the pain points of each.
The people you will be speaking to in houses of worship either want to solve a pain or identify an opportunity. In AV, yes, we love to geek out on our tech — but you’ve gotta think about the church’s needs before anything else; don’t tell them about your product first. Focus on asking churches: what are you trying to accomplish, and what hurts the most right now? What does a great weekend look like?
Anthony teed up his next bit: “what’s on screen next is gold for you.” If a pun wasn’t intended as related to the copy in his next slide, I’ll just use this space to call that out.
A big takeaway from this bit: define the value of your solution before the price is even discussed. When you look at it, Coppedge adds, it’s not really about price; it’s about stewardship. “In the church world, good stewardship has less to do with how much money is saved and more to do with how much money is not wasted,” Coppedge writes. “Help church buyers be good stewards of donated funds and sell them the value of meeting or exceeding their expectations and let price be what it is.” Also, as Paul Richards from PTZOptics brought up later in the day, many folks in the HoW market — more so than in other markets, you could argue — will be looking to trust you as a person first before you sell them one thing. Keep that in mind for later.
Churches have less than a week to either completely solve their AVL problem or come up with a viable temporary solution, Coppedge explained. Timeliness said, ask better questions to reach better conclusions in this market. Rather than telling them what they need, let them back into it — pull them out of the “I need to know what to buy” mindset and into the “I need to know what to solve” mindset. Here are four incredibly helpful questions Coppedge recommends asking:
“How” do you market to HoW?
Content marketing in AV industry is generally very poor, Coppedge then argues. This includes manufacturer websites, email content, trade show content in more. Coppedge said: “Impressive? Yeah. Effective? No.”
We now have the ability to do very specific targeting to reach the right person at the right time on the right channel. This means doing more than just adding some nice keywords and SEO hacks to your website. This is a full-on strategy for every individual vertical.
“This sounds like work. And it is. But it’s worth it,” Coppedge explains.
Coppedge then goes into one of his content pillar approaches (again, no pun intended). The theme: granularity, in every market. For more on HoW advertising and Coppedge’s thoughts and advice, check out his annual wrap-up article (this one’s from December 2019) for what works and what doesn’t.
Pay Attention to HoW, and join us for LAVNCH 2.0
Integrators and readers, do not turn a blind eye here — this is a billion-dollar AV market in the U.S. alone (with more than one billion in annual AVL sales). In fact, it’s the only segment of AV that grew both in 2008 and 2009 during the last recession. In short, the House of Worship (HoW) market is thriving.
“We really are still the wild west, though, and we need to do a better job here,” Coppedge concluded before the rest of the keynote and a Q&A session.
Many churches aren’t ready for the virtual worship market (but want to be) and will need to upgrade both their infrastructure and their AV gear. Are you ready?
Check out our LAVNCH WEEK microsite here to see all the articles (like this one) and public videos from the week and more. And if you’re interested in attending LAVNCH 2.0 the week of June 22 (it’s free to attend!), go ahead and join the list here; spots will fill up fast.