Ways to Sell, Serve and Support AV in Churches — The Blog Version of the LAVNCH WEEK HoW Day Panel

HoW Panel

During our live LAVNCH WEEK Tech Talk, Paul Richards of PTZOptics shared that, these last few months, “connected churches” are discovering just how large their communities really are. And once social distancing is relaxed, many houses of worship won’t be going back to the way things were in their AV systems. For bigger houses of worship, it may no longer be just a one-way broadcast anymore. For smaller organizations that didn’t have AV before COVID-19, those communities are missing and craving that fellowship now more than ever.

Richards, along with a host of other presenters, brought more light to this changing market yesterday during a live LAVNCH WEEK panel, titled “Ways to Sell, Serve and Support AV in Churches.”

Let’s come right out of the gate with it, as our co-emcee and panel moderator, Steph Beckett, said. Read on to learn about the panelists and some of the great things they had to say.

Steph Beckett posed two questions:

  • Selling, serving and supporting AV in churches has become more necessary in these times we live in. Churches are having to find ways to creatively get messaging out if they weren’t equipped to do that already. What has that looked like for each of you?
  • Do any of you feel that manufacturers and companies are missing the mark right now in catering to and supporting the House of Worship AV market? If yes, how so?

1. Anthony Coppedge — Digital Sales and Marketing Consultant

Coppedge, who gave our HoW Day keynote presentation earlier in the day, said that we’ve known about opportunities for AV in HoW for a while based on trends and patterns. The technology isn’t just a nice-to-have anymore; it’s a must-have. Coppedge’s 2015 predictions article on rAVe [PUBS] talked about the changing HoW landscape, and he says today’s pandemic events could be a massive accelerant to some of these predictions. Regarding Beckett’s second question, Coppedge adds that HoW manufacturers have a lot of work to do. Until these manufacturers have feedback processes in place, digitally, they won’t learn from what’s happening in the space either.

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“Your brand is not who you say you are. Your brand is who everybody else says you are. So when you listen, actively listen, to what the market is saying, you will begin to understand where those connections are.” —Anthony Coppedge

2. Dr. Frederick Ampel — Owner – Technology Visions Analytics

Dr. Fred Ampel has spent a lot of time with congregations large and small. The latter, he says, have lately almost all gone the route of one to two small cameras and a USB connection, just to get set up with a livestream. He adds that, like Richards discussed in his Tech Talk, small churches have discovered now that there are members out there who have not been able to make it to church in a year or so (perhaps they’re in a care facility). Churches are quickly discovering the absolute necessity to set up with streaming as a two-way path from the get-go, rather than reactively, for both the people who haven’t been able to make it to church and for newcomers. Regarding Beckett’s second question, Dr. Ampel adds that, if you’re a manufacturer selling to HoW and you don’t have somebody on your team who is focused on this market, they’re never going to get it right. This is a relationship-selling market. These folks have to believe in you as a person before they believe in your product. Also, uptime is everything. There’s only one Sunday (or Friday, or Saturday, depending on the faith) in a week; if it doesn’t work on the day it’s needed, we’re in trouble. As a manufacturer, you have to be able to respond immediately — not in a week.

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“This is going to be a tsunami of change in the way churches look at digital media. Maybe the only upside out of this whole mess is that it’s going to drive the whole digital-streaming market into a two-way channel for the foreseeable future.” —Dr. Fred Ampel

3. Gary Kayye — Director & Co-founder – THE rAVe Agency

What’s different about the house-of-worship market is the members, Gary Kayye added. There’s such a wide range of them, unlike any other. You have young members, old members. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach (of course, that’s the case for all of AV too, but especially in HoW). Regarding Beckett’s second question, Kayye actually argues that there are HoW manufacturers who ARE doing it right and DO get the church market — he’s impressed with organizations like PTZOptics and the content Paul Richards puts out for his own show (on Mondays, not Tuesdays) and the book he wrote to help churches livestream.

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“Guess who’s gonna get blamed when the system goes down? It’s gonna be the person who made the decision to buy all the stuff — it has nothing to do with the manufacturer. So there is that relationship piece that’s very important.“ —Gary Kayye

4. George Herbert — Manager of Support and Training – Epiphan Video

George Herbert, manager of support and training at Epiphan Video, had a lot of great insight to add from the manufacturer side of this panel. Herbert says that one of the big challenges in HoW is that the demographic of the market is huge — different groups have different capabilities and budgets. (For instance, he points out that the church his parents attend doesn’t have electricity, let alone an internet connection.) You have ministers in their living rooms with a smartphone, then you have a lot of churches trying DIY streaming in the church itself. Optimistically, Herbert argues that he hopes positive change will come out of this — as Coppedge pointed out that the trends in HoW that have been long forming, COVID-19 could be a massive accelerant to pushing forward some great HoW AV innovations.

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“[For] a lot of the smaller churches …. that’s one of the big challenges at a community level: trying to figure out how to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks in all of this.” —George Herbert

5. Paul Richards — Chief Streaming Officer – PTZOptics

Paul Richards makes a great point: This has all become a “now” issue in houses of worship. Everyone is racing to get a solution that’s good, affordable and fast, but that’s not always realistic. Many houses of worship, Richards predicts, will not want to go back to one-way broadcasts with live-streaming, because there’s no fellowship there. Also, as social distancing won’t be reduced overnight, the transition over the next few months (or years for older demographics) will be slow — technology is going to be so important in the HoW AV process to keep everyone connected. Regarding Beckett’s second question, Richards adds that customers in HoW are not ProAV managers; they need more help. Manufacturers need to work with good partners and integrators who focus on this market (and there are plenty who specialize in this and work on the weekends to support their customers) — this is a good time to find one.

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“The customers that we have in house of worship are, by far, the most engaged customers of any vertical … they want you to answer their comments on YouTube; they want you to pick up the phone; they want help, and they need help more than anybody else. Because this is new to them. This is not like, you know, the ProAV manager of a corporation that knows what they’re doing. This is someone who likely is very new to this but is passionate and wants to get it done.” —Paul Richards

Takeaways + LAVNCH 2.0!

Before we knew it, after a lengthy and productive Q&A with many more questions discussed, time was up.

But the conversation doesn’t have to end here. You can reach out to any of these panelists on LinkedIn (I tagged their pages above) to keep the discussion going.

If you missed LAVNCH WEEK this week, don’t fear — LAVNCH 2.0 is coming the week of June 22. Go ahead and join the list here; spots are limited. Also, you can check out our LAVNCH WEEK microsite to see all the articles (like this one) and public videos from the week and more.