Your Brand is Probably Not What You Think It Is

Brand is the buzzword for businesses and organizations all over the world. It spurs countless meetings and brainstorms, millions of dollars in research and hundreds of pages in manuals. It has shifted messaging and advertising campaigns. It has prompted new logos, flashy design, catchy taglines. And, after all of that, people still don’t know how brands are made.

A reality check might help. Jeff Bezos to the rescue: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Of course, you may have a clear idea of what you want people to think about your church or organization—you’ve got it all documented in your brand manual with definitions of brand values, essence, promise and guidelines. Great start. But, that’s not what makes a brand dream come true. Your vision may be well documented and poorly demonstrated.

Is the brand you’re promoting what your audience actually experiences? The answer is found in the space between what you profess and what you practice. (Age old “perception vs reality.”)

Ready for a reality check? Review your game films.

Think through all the places people interact with your church – map out an individual experience from the website to the event. Keep in mind, everything communicates – each email, Facebook post, online review (and response), announcement slide, service handout, interaction with staff or volunteer, trip to the bathroom, sign, check-in lines, payment process, traffic flow, etc. Make a list of all of these “touch points.” Then, one at a time, compare what you “say you are” to “how you behave” in each transition and each interaction.

A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.
– Michael Eisner, Former Walt Disney CEO

Did you catch that? The cumulative sum of every touch point defines your brand reality. (Shocking, I know. It’s not what we say, it’s what we do.)

So, it’s true what they say. You should sweat the small stuff. And, here are seven ways to get started.

1. Run empathy practice drills. When your communication engine feeds on calendar event promotions and transactional efficiency alone, the body doesn’t get what it needs to stay healthy. When the body is malnourished, it starts to feed on itself. A peak performing communication engine, on the other hand, grows healthy by feeding on empathy; planning logistics around the human factor in every step of every interaction.

  • What is he leaving behind – an ailing parent, a stack of unpaid bills?
  • What did she have to do in order to get here today – pack a diaper bag but still forgot diapers, argue with a spouse who is turning away from God?
  • What is he facing when he leaves – an empty house, a demanding boss, a draining job?
  • What stress is she carrying – fractured relationship with her kids, shared custody, abuse?

(Are you starting to see why redesigning a logo isn’t making the splash you think it is?)

2. People watch. Set up listening posts and take note of interactions, tendencies and requests. Are people taking bulletins and reading them? Do most people arrive late and are missing the announcements? What questions are people asking at guest services? Train your staff and core volunteers on the first line of defense to ask questions. Create a safe conversation where guests/attenders can be heard, and truth shared – no offenses taken. Stress the importance of wanting to know how you can get better.

3. Check data vitals. When is the last time you evaluated your website analytics (versus just tracking counts)? For example, look beyond how many people are coming to your site and check out:

  • how they’re coming to you (direct URL, search or link from somewhere else)? That will give you insight around whether or not people are finding you via referral, your promotions or other.
  • how they’re viewing your site (on mobile devices or desktop). This will give you insight around how they’re using your content; at home or on the go. Is your site mobile-friendly?
  • how long are they staying? This will give you insight on how helpful and user-friendly your content is.
  • what are they clicking on? This will give you insight on what content is most relevant for them.
  • what are they searching for? This will give you insight on what might be missing, what might be buried in navigation, what jargon is misleading.

I’m sure you’re starting to get the idea by now. And, if you’re ready to dive into what to do with this new insight, I’ve dug up two articles to get you out of the gate.

  1. Important Google Analytics Metrics
  2. Best Google Analytic Reports

4. Start social listening. You can dive pretty deep into this one – but don’t get lost in the data. Start with the basics and then ramp up. At the very least, set up a Google Alert. Be alerted to any mention of your church name and top leaders but also Christian, church and perhaps your particular denomination. Look into top trends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. What are people looking up? What are people talking about? How are they talking about your church or sermon topics? If there isn’t any online chatter about you… what might that mean?

There are countless ways to approach this, but I suggest starting simple. I like how Van Baird makes it easy with his 60/20/20 Rule and how Shift Communications breaks down which metrics to pay more attention to and which ones to ignore.

5. Make comment cards accessible. Set up a box with cards and pens for easy access and in a safe place to anonymously fill out (not the center of the room). Add gathering these cards and recording the feedback part of a staff member or volunteer’s weekly routine. Make the same feedback mechanism available online and on Facebook. In other words, make it easy for people to share about their experience. Then, set up a monthly cycle where you review them as a team and commit to take action (not only with the person who shared the feedback, but also with future protocol).

6. Add mystery shoppers to your bench. Gain insight from regular attenders and guests through a “mystery shopper” exercise. Compile a list of questions and areas for “shoppers” to observe and provide feedback.

7. Ask better survey questions. Surveys can be a helpful tool in revealing what people really think about your church – IF you ask the right questions. I’ve seen this mishandled more times than I can count. Your feedback is only as good as the questions you ask. So, be sure to target your questions to uncover targeted information you can’t find any other way.

  • What topics do you need help with?
  • What hurdles do you find when you come for the first time?
  • What hurdles do you find on the website?
  • What was the most helpful experience you’ve had here?
  • What was a discouraging experience?
  • Are you in a group? Why or why not? [benchmark]
  • Do you come every weekend? Why or why not? [benchmark]

The questions identified as benchmarks should be asked 1-4x per year. Look for trends. Are people growing? What are the consistent hurdles that your team need to address?

Good intentions don’t work as a “get out of reality free” card

You don’t know what you don’t know. And you can only serve people better if you find out the truth. I know listening can be a humbling and frustrating experience. But, it’s crucial. If you don’t address your blind side, it can cost you the game. But, when you look at the whole playing field, you can make good decisions with good information.

Have fun, and enjoy the discovery.

> Read more from Kem.


 

 

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer has spent almost three decades working with small business, big business, not for profit, tech, finance, PR, advertising, schools and churches. They all have issues with communications; for better and worse. And, learning from them all, she's developed quite a knack for finding the simple themes that increase organizational clarity and remove barriers that get in the way of our messages.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Small Gap Creating a Big Problem in Your Communication

When I say it out loud, it just doesn’t feel right. But, I do turn 50 next month, so the math checks out. “I’ve been in the professional communication arena for thirty years.” There. I’ve said it. And, it’s so weird. It doesn’t feel like that long. It feels like I’m at the starting line. I think that’s because communications is basically a lifelong work study program; it just never gets old.

But, after three decades at this, I can tell you there’s one major communication gap derailing our effectiveness as leaders and handicapping the growth and impact of good organizations and causes. It’s a big one; and it’s especially prominent in the church. And, I wonder why nobody’s talking about it.

Churches are trying to “do communications” by hiring talented and skilled project managers, creatives, marketers, videographers, graphic designers, writers, etc., giving them big titles and throwing them into a cyclone of activity with no strategic or executive clarity. They send them to conferences to get better at their craft and learn the newest “how to” of the current trends to make more excellent work. And, people still aren’t happy. So they hire. And, fire. And, blame. And, micromanage.

And, while these skilled artists continue to generate a flurry of creative digital, design and video content on demand – it’s not helping align the church or equip the people they’re serving. More communications is not what’s missing.

The critical gap I see derail communications isn’t a technical problem. It’s a gap between leadership and staff. It’s what happens between aspirational vision and operational behavior. What’s missing is the basic blueprint that organizes the direction of our communications.

If you follow any road of pain and frustration in an organization, “it” will inevitably lead to communications. Even if the problem didn’t start there, the communications activity is where people see and feel it.

Communications and creative work is only as good as the strategy that drives it. This is where churches and not-for-profits are falling behind today. The cart is driving the horse. Someplace, in the frenzy of communicating more and creating more inspiring creative work, we’ve missed the whole point.

Communications isn’t a standalone function you can put on autopilot. It’s not something to be delegated to the boss, the extrovert or creative. It’s a shared function every leader and every staff person needs to own and apply in their zone. But, without strategic communication direction and clarity from an executive and organizational level, individual projects proliferate and chaos grows quickly.

Communications isn’t a separate function in your church body, it’s the entire circulatory system. What are you doing to pump blood to all the parts?

A good, working circulatory systems starts with a good source. So, let’s start there – how do you define communications? (pick one)

  1. transactional department where a lot of cool project activity happens.
  2. exclusive hub where creatives hone their craft and make inspirational magic.
  3. critical growth engine for our church and our people. (hint: this is the right answer)

Communications is a critical growth engine that needs fuel

You have several departments that deal with “customers” and communications must be integrated into all of them –  not just in look, but behavior. Not just in creative and marketing, but everywhere. Communications touches everything – kids and students, missions, weekend experience, outreach, groups, leadership development, volunteer strategy, discipleship – yet, it’s often treated as an add-on function.

A solid communications strategy and some simple operator tools can unlock the communication areas across your organization that keep getting jammed up. If you’re looking for help getting the communication engine in your organization running again, I’ve got good news.

> Read more from Kem.


 

Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer has spent almost three decades working with small business, big business, not for profit, tech, finance, PR, advertising, schools and churches. They all have issues with communications; for better and worse. And, learning from them all, she's developed quite a knack for finding the simple themes that increase organizational clarity and remove barriers that get in the way of our messages.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

When It’s Time for Some Spring Cleaning in Your Communications

It’s still spring. Time to upgrade things going out of style, time to store the things that don’t fit right now and time to retire the items we’re not using anymore. You can do this with your wardrobe if you want, but I’m not interested in your closet. I’m talking about your communications activity.

I have to ask, are you taking inventory of all the content and materials you’re generating and measuring the ROI at least once a year? If not, you should.

People change. Culture changes. Just because something was a great resource before doesn’t mean it is filling the need now. Sacred cows make the best steaks.

TAKE INVENTORY

Take a look at all your activity in every channel. What are you mailing, handing out, posting, rendering, hanging, designing, emailing? With an open mind, honestly ask yourself:

  • Does this still fit? Have we outgrown this? Is it still us? Does the vocabulary still work?
  • Is this out-of-date? Is this soooo last season? Is it in tune with what people are looking for?
  • Is this appropriate to wear in public? Does it help at least 80% of our congregation?
  • Is anyone using this? Is it solving a problem? Would anyone notice if it was gone?
  • What are the consequences if this went away? Are there alternative solutions?
  • Is it too much? Is there any way to simplify this; can we make it easier to find or use?

This only works if you’re able to honestly evaluate with an objective lens. Don’t plan this exercise if you’re in a mood or short on sleep. Bring your best, constructive brain to the table.

AVOID THE TWO EXTREMES

DON’T KEEP IT just because people are used to having it around. Some of the things we keep around have long outlived the problem they were created to solve. If it isn’t solving a current problem, it’s time for it to go. [Member mailboxes, I’m talking to you.]

DON’T KILL IT for the fast visual relief of decluttering or shortening a task list. If we cut things out without taking the customer journey into account, we risk closing the only channel where guests and members easily find out what’s happening from week to week. [Maybe you should try organizing the information in your bulletin better before you get rid of it.]

MARK YOUR CALENDAR, MAKE A PLAN

Spring time may not be the best time to clean your communications closet (though it could be the best time). Whatever your season of choice may be, mark your calendar now for when you plan to make it happen. And, then. Make it happen.

Consider the team players who need to be part of the conversation. Find a customer advocate who has permission to review what is helpful and what isn’t for your audience. Evaluate all activity at once; with no personal agenda or bias. Solicit feedback. Spend two power hours (with pizza) to go through the questions. Make sure everything you’re creating (or using) is still solving a real problem

  1. Gather the facts.
  2. Get objective input.
  3. Review your findings.
  4. Decide what needs to go and what needs to take its place.

A good strategy demands that you make a choice to move in one specific direction. It demands that you prioritize what’s most important and focus your resources there – trying to have it all will leave you struggling. – Good Strategy Bad Strategy. The Difference and Why It Matters. by Richard Rumelt

Pro-tip: If you’re not sure about whether you can afford to retire something, consider a “pilot pause.” Discontinue it for a season and see what happens. Based on the response you get (or don’t get) you can decide what’s really needed.

> Read more from Kem.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer has spent almost three decades working with small business, big business, not for profit, tech, finance, PR, advertising, schools and churches. They all have issues with communications; for better and worse. And, learning from them all, she's developed quite a knack for finding the simple themes that increase organizational clarity and remove barriers that get in the way of our messages.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Gospel-Nurturing Questions to Ask in Sermon Preparation

A few weeks ago, my daughter called to update me on her field trip to the nature center with my grandson Cash. When I answered the phone, her voice was shaky. Here is how the conversation went:

My daughter: “Cash committed a murder today! We were in the butterfly exhibit and I took my eyes off him for like 30 seconds. When I found him crawling out from behind the trees, I could see he was carrying something. When I asked him to show me, he unfolded his cupped hands and – MOM – pieces of a dead, mangled, yellow butterfly fell to the floor!”

Me: “Oh no! What did you do?”

My daughter: “We hauled our heinie to the next exhibit as fast as possible! When the coast was clear, I told Cash; ‘Hey buddy. You can’t hold the butterflies. You can hurt them. They are soft and fragile. Ok?’ Mom, it was so sad. He looked up at me and said, ‘I just hold it a little bit. I just look at it. Teeny Tiny. So soft.’”

I empathized with both sides.

  • The murderer: How sad that this little nature lover accidentally killed something he adored. In his passionate zeal, he came on too strong. He didn’t realize his own power and it had irreversible, devastating consequences.
  • The victim: How sad that this butterfly had his life violently and unexpectedly crushed. I’m sure he thought he was in a safe place. I mean, is there any place safer for a butterfly than in the protected butterfly habitat at the nature center?

The story represented something else to me. It’s really not that big of leap, if you think about it. Church communicators can be murderers. Our message is the victim.

Here are three questions to ask ourselves so that we won’t kill the gospel message in our zeal to communicate quickly and effectively:

#1: Am I coming on too strong?

Do we get in a hurry and come on too strong in our zeal? Are we bypassing Jesus in our eagerness to help people take steps towards Jesus? It’s a common shortcut and it’s tempting: just get people to the destination we’ve prescribed for them as quickly as possible.

We suck the life out of our content when we use all of our promotional real estate pointing people to programs and events in our church instead of next steps with Jesus. Our communication comes across as high pressure and out of touch when we forget to connect people to the higher ideals and spiritual disciplines outside our own church-sponsored events. Life change is not limited to an individual transaction on our church calendar.

Pro tip: Don’t tell the whole story in promotions. Just share little appetizers to pull people into what you have to offer. Then build a sequence of little content nuggets around a central theme in all the communication intersections along your audience’s journey of discovery (e.g., web, social media, platform, bulletin, lobby, etc.).

#2: Do I lack awareness?

Have we created a safe environment for people to ask questions and explore faith, or are we telling people what to think and do—rushing ahead to solve the problem for them? How can we slow down, trust God’s part in the process, and spend more time pointing people to places they can find the answer on their own, even if they color outside the lines a little bit along the way?

When we are students of culture, we have better relationships with ALL people, not just OUR people.

Pro tip: Link to resources, articles, and content from a variety of sources that address the questions people are asking about life, relationships, community, and healing. Don’t hesitate to share content from other leaders, industries, and environments to help people with whole life context around their spiritual next steps.

When we trust and empower individuals with a variety of reinforcements, they naturally take steps towards deeper levels of commitment inside their church family because they have ownership in the journey.

#3: Is my delivery sterile?

In our attempt to achieve professionalism and excellence, our institutional brands have become overdesigned, polished, and censored. Where can we do a better job embracing the imperfections of our humanity to demonstrate vulnerability and authenticity as fellow travelers on a journey?

When we create more space and environments for personal conversations, people are less skeptical and start to respond because they can relate.

Pro tip: While your corporate website can be centralized and standardized, loosen control over organic, conversational outlets like social media. Crowd source photos and content to build community, not perfection. Measure engagement, not graphics standards compliance. While the teams will need coaching along the way, be sure to promote connection over content and nurture conversation over correction.

Effective communications, on both individual and institutional levels, is about locating and disarming the landmines that have the potential to kill the message. But, it’s not difficult to make incremental improvements.

Just look for, and reduce, the areas where you might be wearing people out, turning people off, or taking up space with white noise to bring life back into your messaging.

>Read more from Kem.


Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer has spent almost three decades working with small business, big business, not for profit, tech, finance, PR, advertising, schools and churches. They all have issues with communications; for better and worse. And, learning from them all, she's developed quite a knack for finding the simple themes that increase organizational clarity and remove barriers that get in the way of our messages.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Seven Big Ideas for Social Media Mastery

Building a social media plan can seem overwhelming; especially if you see all platforms as broadcast channels. Don’t give into the invisible pressure to jump on everything all at once, all the time. And, most importantly, remember social media strategies are successful when they help people connect, not when they create more promotional noise.

The good news is it’s a lot simpler than people make it. With just a few questions in mind, you can be confident and methodical as you get your ducks in a row and in the right pond. Pro tip: these questions should be revisited regularly.

  1. Where are my people? Don’t start a Snapchat account just because you read it’s the fastest growing social media app today. That doesn’t make it the biggest crowd or the right crowd. First, find out where the majority of your audience hanging out. Join them there. Pay attention to how they’re using it, responding to other accounts, commenting and sharing (or not). When you see what resonates with your intended audience, you can refine and focus your messaging as a result. A big part of a defining a content strategy is social “listening.” Read more about that here.
  2. What am I doing here? Once you’re found your people, figure out what need you’re going to meet or problem you’re going solve for them. Your content strategy shouldn’t be driven by what you want to say, but what your people are looking for. Don’t make frequency your goal; post only when you have something worthy to add to your intended audience. Here are just a few ideas.
  3. Do I know where I’m going? After you find your people and identify your purpose, you can make a plan. Just don’t overthink it. An uncomplicated cue card can give you the basic compass to build a team around and stay on track. Take a look at this sample super simple social media framework.
  4. What’s on my playlist? You don’t need it to get started, but draft a content calendar when you’re ready. It’s just a schedule with the themes and rhythms to make sure you’re talking about the right stuff at the right time in the right place. The idea here is that your communication is varied, strategic and fresh. Again, there are some fancy formats and templates out there if you look for them. But, you don’t need to over engineer this thing. Take a look at this sample super simple weekly content calendar from my friend Tiffany.
  5. Who else needs to know about this? Many times, the biggest threat to a successful social media plan doesn’t have anything to do with the technology, and everything to do with people who are going to be using that technology. Give your staff and stakeholders a heads up about the new social media plan, what to expect, how it will or won’t affect them, how they can participate and where to go with questions. Remind everyone social media plans are not concrete, but an evolving ecosystem the changes with the culture around it.
  6. Am I on track? Evaluate how things are going. Celebrate and nurture what’s working. Course correct or eliminate what’s not. Spend less time on the things that don’t fit your brand personality and more time on the things that do. Experiment with some new trials and see what you learn. Have fun with it. Make adjustments. Keep going.
  7. What are the “experts” saying? Don’t look at articles and professional advice as a rule book, but as cues and context to apply to your situation. Despite what some people say, there is no fail-safe scientific formula. You should pay attention to best practices, but remember all expert advice has a shelf life. Check in on occasion to see what industry insiders are saying. Here are few infographics to get a good orientation.

> Read more from Kem.


 

 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer has spent almost three decades working with small business, big business, not for profit, tech, finance, PR, advertising, schools and churches. They all have issues with communications; for better and worse. And, learning from them all, she's developed quite a knack for finding the simple themes that increase organizational clarity and remove barriers that get in the way of our messages.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Successful Communication Takes These Two Steps

I’ve been recently given the Director of Communications position and have been asked to come up with a comprehensive communications strategy designed for our particular church body, mission, and vision, etc. I was hoping to not completely reinvent the wheel and was wondering if you had any white papers that could be used as a framework for developing our strategy?

If you’re writing a communications strategy for the first time or the fiftieth time I’m a big believer in simplicity. The more pages and detail you have in your plan, the harder it is to execute. There are so many great, multi-page templates out there that are impressively robust. I’ve used many of them. I used to write them myself. I’ve also worked with some of the best and brightest agencies and consultants in the marketplace who have solid, researched deliverables with professionally designed tables, charts and graphs. They are beautiful, comprehensive strategy manuals that NASA scientists would envy. They hold a ton of great information that’s right and true, but not portable or contagious. 

In my experience, the bigger the strategy document, the more likely it is to end up in a binder on someone’s desk or lost in a network file folder. Inevitably, in these cases, there also ends up being a stressed out communications person (or team) who lives in a constant state of frustration trying to understand why nobody is following the plan! I’ve seen it countless times.

Try this approach instead. Simple rules. Simple frameworks. That’s the secret weapon to a successful strategy that everyone owns, not just the communications team.  

I’ve seen the most effective strategies gain traction and really work for the long run using a small document set of “conversation tools.” These one page documents are at a glance tools that serve as the strategy compass for your day to day work and decisions. I believe 3-5 one page documents are all you need to rally stakeholders, streamline processes and prioritize activity. It’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t over design or over produce it.

“Too often, a company’s strategy sits on a shelf, gathering dust. A strategy that doesn’t influence critical decisions on a day-to-day basis, however, is not a strategy—it is a book report.” ― Donald SullSimple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World

Here are two templates to get you started.

  1. Communications Charter
  2. Minimalist Communications Strategy Matrix

I guarantee, if you put the work into it, you will never regret this minimalist approach to your communications strategy. It’s the best way to equip your stakeholders (your brand handlers) to happily carry their part of the defined strategy. You’ll spend more time collaborating and less time handholding or pulling your hair out.

Read more from Kem.

 

Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer has spent almost three decades working with small business, big business, not for profit, tech, finance, PR, advertising, schools and churches. They all have issues with communications; for better and worse. And, learning from them all, she's developed quite a knack for finding the simple themes that increase organizational clarity and remove barriers that get in the way of our messages.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Ways Worship Announcements Struggle

Yes, verbal worship announcements are still a good idea.

Unless they’re bad.

Sometimes in the “busy-ness of doing ministry business” we forget to ask what we’re trying to accomplish in each “announcement” vehicle. Live host talking points and print bulletin content are used and consumed very differently. They may both address the same event and/or topic, but not in identical ways.

Look at it like this; they’re sisters, not twins.

  • A host is there to act as a guide by curating and bringing the best stuff to the live audience in the room. They bring unique context and generate excitement with fun facts you can’t get anywhere else, real stories that connect a soulless program with a human heartbeat, incentivize the crowd with perks and bring personality to sterilized corporate content. Verbal announcements are there to create a personal connection with live people in a live room. They are not there to waste people’s time by reading the same thing people can read in the bulletin on their own. They are there to mix it up with variety; live or video.
  • Paper handouts travel with your live audience after they leave the room (hopefully). Your bulletin can serve as a simple reminder for the family refrigerator or an invite tool to pass to a friend. It’s not designed to be a ‘Flat Stanley’ version of a pushy salesperson, or an encyclopedia of information, but a grab and go snapshot of the “need to know news only.” Think about the bulletin as a tiny billboard people carry in their hand. It should only address the essentials about what they care about most and where to go to find the rest.

So, what do these announcement “sisters” have in common?

If they’re wicked (like Cinderella’s stepsisters) they think what’s important to them is the only thing that matters and they dominate the conversation with no regard to how it affects people they’ve trapped in the conversation. But, if they’re cool (like the Doublemint Twins) they only talk about one or two things that affect at least half of the people in the room.

The announcement struggle is real. Here are three places you can start to feel the win.

  1. Try different channels. Video isn’t the only tool in the toolbox. It can be great, but can get as boring and predictable as anything else. Have fun with it, but don’t feel the pressure to over produce or make your announcements an oscar-worthy creative performance every week. It’s a big waste of time, for everyone. And, comes across a little self-indulgent and out of touch.It can be just as effective with a live dude, standing on the stage for 60 seconds keeping it real – talking about simple, clear and human next steps. “When me and my wife were new to town, we were looking for one place to take our kids so we could have two hours alone. Tuesday nights in the café practically saved our marriage.” Boom. You’ve got me right there. What a hook. A story in two seconds.
  2. Try not to supersize. It’s ok to talk about why something matters, but don’t oversell the solution. “You don’t want to miss this!” every, single week for every single event is the stuff parodies are made of. Tie events to subjects people care about, point them to a next step, but don’t exaggerate the benefits.On that note, don’t feel the need to produce a video every week if you don’t have the team to do it. Take it for a test drive every other week as you build momentum and grow into it. Alternate between live and video. The variety might be just what you, and your audience, respond to best.
  3. Try not to talk about everything at once. It’s not just about YOUR bandwidth. It’s about your audience’s bandwidth, too. Come on. They can only handle so much at once. Champion unity around a key shared value or common problem, point to the event as an answer to the problem and help guide guests to the place where they can find the details and answers to their nitty gritty questions.

As much as the weekly announcements might be the bane of existence for communications and creative people, it’s worth the effort. Don’t over think it. Just remember the simple connection announcements are there for, keep it real and don’t be afraid to mix it up from week to week.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about how to communicate vision through your announcements.


> Read more from Kem.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer has spent almost three decades working with small business, big business, not for profit, tech, finance, PR, advertising, schools and churches. They all have issues with communications; for better and worse. And, learning from them all, she's developed quite a knack for finding the simple themes that increase organizational clarity and remove barriers that get in the way of our messages.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.