In an effort to both reach new people and serve those who cannot come to a church service due to travel, work or illness, churches have increasing added online streaming services. Once again, what used to be reserved for “television churches” has now trickled its way down to even the smallest churches, thanks to advances in both simple video technology and broadband internet availability.
Uhmm, Why Doesn’t It Look Good?
For many churches making the digital dive into online streaming, the initial excitement of providing a single consumer video camera — or even a web cam — has quickly turned into complaints from viewers. What was a quick, cheap solution suddenly doesn’t seem to be such a great value. Now this isn’t true for all, as some just don’t care about the quality, but to these churches there isn’t an obvious step towards online church streaming beyond the advertised streaming service providers squarely aiming at the house of worship market.
Any AVL professional knows that it takes good quality video devices, good quality lighting and good quality audio to make the entire experience come off. This isn’t as obvious to the majority of churches that want a simplified solution for what is seen as a “bonus” offering to congregants.
Live services in a church sanctuary don’t focus on one view at a time, have room acoustics and congregational participation and cover up a lot of the “little things” that make the service happen from a technical standpoint. Internet streaming, especially from a single camera capturing the often huge difference in architectural lighting between the platform and the audience, with audio often coming from an auxiliary send from the Front of House console, suddenly puts a magnifying glass on the technology (or the lack thereof).
Again, this is largely not understood by the vast majority of churches, so they are looking for other consumer solutions from big box retailers to solve these issues. What they need, obvious to the reader of these articles, is some time and attention to provide the right technology solutions for their unique contexts.
More Value, Better Solutions
Interestingly, when churches have qualified professionals help them with these streaming service issues, the result is often better solutions for their overall technical issues. Issues that have been ignored in the live room can be addressed at the same time their internet streaming solutions are recommended. Clearly, this creates additional sales opportunities for vendors, too.
It is here, at the crossroads of meeting immediate needs and addressing current limitations, that vendors and manufacturers provide the greatest value and have the opportunity to build a relationship built on credibility and trust. This is not the point of an “up-sale,” but the perfect invitation to offer short-, medium- and long-term solutions. If there’s anything I’ve been trying to impart in the dozens of articles I’ve addressed to the AVL market, it is this: Meet churches at their pain point and provide them with immediate solutions while offering to partner with them on long-term solutions.
A New Way of Planning
With the acumen of a professional, the opportunity also exists to position your firm as an ally to help the church leadership with excellent stewardship when it comes to technology purchases. The simple example is that though the low-budget single web-camera solution didn’t cost much, the results reduced credibility in the eyes of the viewer. That’s not good stewardship, even if little was spent up front. Your job is to help the church leadership understand their options so that their technology decisions yield quality results – regardless of budget.
This may sound like “good inputs = good outputs” (a truth when it comes it comes to signal flow), but the bigger realization for both you, the vendor, and the house of worship market is the refocusing on the results as impact, not as outputs. The exponential effect of proper planning creates a boost in both outputs (higher quality, better results) and impact (what happens when the receiver shares the results with their friends, family and social networks).
Redefining the Opportunity
I’m hoping you see how this article has come full-circle: We started with the relatively simple application of upgrading a Web camera for better quality video streaming of church services (meeting the church at their known point of pain) and redefined the opportunity (revealing other points of pain) to help the churches with the best results possible: greater impact from their efforts. This is the life-cycle of client-vendor relationships when the choice is made to shift from commodity sales to solutions as a service.
Undoubtedly, you will run into plenty of churches that will be focused on the problem at hand and lack the vision to see the greater opportunity. Yet even in those circumstances, you stand a better chance of being contacted by those churches in the future because you took a different approach than commodity-focused vendors. And, because of this approach, those that you do win over stand a good chance at being a loyal, lifetime church client.
Remember, it only takes one loyal customer to be referrer to other churches, bringing you new business that positions you as the leader from the get-go. The AVL industry should take note: redefining the opportunity isn’t just good business, it’s the best kind of business — referral business.