Where and How to Reach Churches

featured-how-trendsReaching the right church decision-maker with your technology solutions for AVL is obviously important; what’s less obvious is exactly how and where to reach them. I’ve included a starting list of potential places to reach churches online as well as the kind of messaging your firm should focus on in order to maximize your qualified leads.

Know Thy Audience

The “church market” is not actually one market; it’s an amalgam of many different micro-markets that quite often don’t have much in common when it comes to how think about and purchase technology. This may come as a surprise to those new to the House of Worship (HoW) vertical market, but I often say that selling to small businesses is very different from selling into Enterprise-class businesses. And so it is with churches.

Knowing your church audience, as I’ve written about previously, is key to generating the right sales leads for your technology solutions. In the same way you wouldn’t pitch line arrays at the corporate boardroom market, ensuring your product marketing and advertising is positioned uniquely for the demographic and market segment likely to want your product is mandatory. You may have the next big thing for mega churches (2,000+ weekly attendance), but positioning your product on many online church resources sites could be a swing-and-a-miss, as the average reader/visitor of these sites is at a church with attendance only between 101-500 every weekend.

If you’ve been selling into the HoW market, it’s clearly best to start with your existing database of churches. From going through batches of churches in your database to looking at extended service contracts and warranty cards, there’s likely a good number of churches who have some level of experience with your firm. It’s far easier to keep an existing client happy than it is to get new clients, so take the time to cull through your past sales and scrub your church database to start fresh in the new year.

And What They’re Reading

The Internet made everyone a publisher, but not all publishers have the same reach and influence. It still pays to look at some of the publications that reach church technology buyers. The guys at Church Production Magazine and Technologies for Worship Magazine were early entrants into the church technology space, and both have extended beyond print into digital editions and conferences. It’s actually been a privilege of mine to know the people behind these publications and know their passion and conviction for helping churches, but my personal endorsement aside, these two venerable publications can help most any manufacturer or systems integrator interesting in the House of Worship market reach new buyers. A slew of other publications followed suit, but most have not had the growth, reach, or staying power, of another publication, Worship Facilities Magazine, which used to be owned by the same parent company that owns Church Production Magazine.

The online publication world took two distinct approaches: create niche market content around church technology, or aggregate content from many sources and offer it in an organized fashion for church leaders. Examples of the former include Church Executive, Pastors Resources, Church Relevance, and Church Tech Today. Aggregation sites (my term, not theirs) include ChurchLeaders.com, Net World Media, Pastors.com, LifeWay, and Salem Web Network. Some are very large with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and others are much smaller; all are trying to carve out their piece of the church buyer pie.

Of course, sometimes going very, very niche actually removes the most clutter and targets a small but highly motivated group of enthusiasts and buyers. Enter the layman’s resource sites, led by guys and gals who are often practitioners or former church staff now selling into this market. There are hundreds of these sites, but I’ve provided a small sampling to help kick-off the conversation, including: Church Tech Arts, Church Tech Leaders, Tech Arts Network, Church Tech Talk and Church Tech Unite.

Depending upon the products and solutions you’re selling to churches, a combination of these could prove to be some of the most fruitful advertising and targeted marketing to reach church technology buyers. While what they buy, how much they buy, and how often they buy varies greatly, all churches interested in production technology have this in common: They’re hungry for practical, helpful information, resources, and recommendations.

With tools like content marketing automation available, the ability to track what’s working and what’s not has literally never been better. The cost for entry is still incredibly low (especially compared to the Corporate vertical market), which makes experimenting with different content, channels, and product offerings simply an exercise in diligence and patience. Frankly, if your products and/or services fit in the church market, there is no excuse for not generating significant sales from a market that is nearly recession-proof.

Enter the Church Conversation Prepared

There is no doubt that the House of Worship market will continue to see hundreds of millions of dollars spent per year; what I think is up for debate will be how manufacturers, in particular, and systems integrators, in general, learn how to be outrageously successful in this high-growth market. As we enter the end of this year and prepare for the next, I’ve provided a helpful reading and action list from previous articles here on rAVe to ensure you’re prepared to enter the conversation within the House of Worship market.

First, the church market must be understood; or, perhaps, it should be re-positioned for those who have used old methods to reach these new churches. Either way, there’s a way that manufacturers see the HoW Market that needs to change, along with how they sell to churches. When you understand church buyer sentiment, how small churches often buy, the challenges large churches face, and how multi-site churches are becoming the new norm, the market takes on a new meaning with plenty of opportunities to position your products to the right church clients.

And as you become focused on your product positioning, leverage social media to reach churches, revamp your websites to target churches and change your tactics from pandering to partnering, the future of selling to churches will make sense.

As we end 2015, remember that December is the New January for selling to churches. Set your firm up for the success that can be had by providing technology solutions to a market that hasn’t slowed down growth in over a decade. Will you make 2016 the year you took the church market seriously? The door of opportunity is flung wide open.

Share your views and opinions in the comments below and be sure to click the share buttons for social media to put this in front of your church clients.