Throwing Good Money at Bad Advertising

featured-future-howThe writer inside of me knows that people want helpful insight and good advice. It also knows that ticking off potential advertisers for rAVe isn’t a good idea. Sometimes, the two are at odds. I also believe that telling the truth, kindly, is possible. And it is with this good intention that I focus this future of the house of worship article to those in the AVL industry that are at least trying to advertise to churches. Don’t hate me for my honesty.

Don’t hate me for my honesty.

Lose the Religious Lingo

For the vast majority of churches here in the U.S., speaking at them with flowery, church-y language identifies your brand as being out-of-touch with the church market. Examples abound and include silly phrases like “angelic sound,” “heavenly lighting” and “the answer to all your prayers.” These are actual advertising copy pulled directly from ads selling A/V/L gear to the HOW market. Stop it!

Your audio processing may be beautiful to hear, but churches don’t need to have your signal flow likened to angels singing. Really, it’s just pandering. Church buyers are not idiots, though many of them could use some helpful education and insight. I can personally promise you that they’re not actually praying for your brand of projector, either, so stop the God-pitch.

Sometimes, when you really know the HOW market, a few key phrases in context can be helpful. See this month’s 2015 top ads article for examples of advertisers, like Sony, that got this tricky one right.

Stop with the Cheesy Artwork

I don’t know what it is about advertisers, but showing ‘angels’ or Photoshopped corporate presenters in front of a large audience isn’t going to convince church buyers. Tell it and show it to us like it is. Here’s a brief list of what doesn’t work.

Does even one advertiser here think that a silhouette of a rock band is going to encourage even the most edgy of churches to purchase a wall-mounted lighting controller? Apparently, one does.

And what ad designer though Photoshopping impossibly high-contrast photos onto projection screens in a room lit with windows was going to pass as plausible? It’s tantamount to an automotive company showing a car flying through the air. It is this level of fraudulence that eliminates credibility of a brand and eschews churches away from your products.

Does another curved line array Photoshopped onto a stock photo of an empty church auditorium really look that different from every other curved line array Photoshopped onto a stock photo of an empty church auditorium?

The examples are, sadly, almost endless. Enough with the angels wings and excessive beams of light shining down onto a pastor. This is what we get out of those ads: You don’t get it.

You’re Killing Bunnies with Bullet Points

I’ve long said that identifying the user (persona), defining your value proposition and solving technical problems are the best ways to help churches connect with your brand. I’ve also said time and again that a dizzying bullet list of features, capabilities, and technical specs is a sure fire way to miss the extreme majority of church A/V/L buyers. And yet, the lists continue to proliferate in ads.

The average seems to be around six to eight bullet points per ad. One manufacturer decided to double down and go with a whopping 13 bullet points for a single ad. To add insult to injury, all of the product shots in the ad had old-school Photoshopped glow around them to further demonstrate how out of touch they were (1995 called and wants its glow effects back).

Here’s a practical bit of presentation advice that is seemingly needed for a shockingly large number of church market advertisers: Bullet points kill bunnies. No, they don’t actually do that, but if they did, I’m not entirely sure we’d see less bullets in these ads by this time next year. Still, a columnist can try his best to stop the endless bullet point lists.

25-Year-Old Female Models are Infrequent Church Buyers

This one could really get me some stink, but I’m just gonna say it: While there are a disproportionate amount of males which make up the church tech arts space, putting a ridiculously attractive young female model in your ads isn’t working.

If anything, we don’t really believe that young lady is really benefiting from your assistive listening devices while being Photoshopped into a church pew. We’re pretty sure the larger majority of our congregants that want those devices are senior adults.

I’m not saying all of the dudes in churches are not appreciative of a pretty young lady, but she’s simply not representative of how the majority of A/V/L products are utilized. This goes in line with my belief that the era of booth babes should have ended long ago, and not because I’m a ‘religious person,’ but because I’m not a misogynist.

Tell Me What’s In It For Me

If you really want to make compelling and effective ads for the church market, tell the reader what’s in it for them. That has far less to do with the number of features and more to do with your understanding of my venues, my pain points, and my goals. You know — Marketing 101 type stuff.

The HOW market isn’t an aberration; it’s a vertical market that’s made up of people. And, like all people, we need to know you can meet our needs and solve our problems if we’re going to purchase anything from you.

So stop the crappy artwork, the fluffy language and the unnecessary slaughter of bunnies. Treat us with respect and we’ll consider buying from you. Treat us like morons, and we’ll likely assume the worst about your brand.

The choice is yours, advertisers. More sales into the HOW market? Or a continuation of missing the point.