“This guy is a marketing genius”, I said, without looking up from my book.
“What are you reading?” asked my husband. He couldn’t see the cover from where he was sitting.
“Oh, a book about how to grow your church…….”
It’s not my normal kind of book
It was an unlikely choice, even for an eclectic reader like me. I don’t belong to a church. I’m not even Christian – I’m Jewish.
Still, the author – pastor of one of the largest evangelical churches in America – is a genius. And I can’t recommend his book highly enough if you’re serious about growing your company online.
I came across it recently, when someone at the end of a webinar was asked about his favourite marketing books.
When he named The Purpose-Driven Church by Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in California, the choice was so unusual that I knew I had to get my hands on it.
In hindsight, the choice was not as weird as I first thought.
We’re all looking for ‘conversions’
If you’re an evangelical, you are there to persuade people that there is a solution for their problems, to be found in religion. Although he might not see it this way himself, that’s a marketing challenge. Even the language is similar – we’re all looking for “conversions”.
Even though it was first published in 1995, so much of Dr Warren’s methodology was relevant to the digital age
And if you’re trying to grow a church – or a synagogue, or a mosque – you share many of the same challenges as business owners.
You need to attract members. Then you need to offer a great service (no pun intended….) and retain them.
You may be in a crowded market, and need to differentiate yourself. Funding can be an issue. So is managing growth, as new members join, you take on new staff and the nature of your organization changes.
The Purpose Driven Church is first and foremost the story of how one church grew from nothing to astronomical proportions, averaging 10,000 people in worship attendance each week, through execution of a very well-thought-out strategy. As a business manual it’s second-to-none.
From a marketing perspective, what amazed me was that even though it was first published in 1995, so much of Dr Warren’s methodology was relevant to the digital age. In fact, almost everything he did to promote his church is now considered basic good practice online.
It’s all there!
>> Know your audience. Good online marketers don’t do anything online without having a very clear picture of who their audience is, and what their biggest problems, needs and dreams are.
It’s step #1 in every campaign we run.
Dr Warren spent months researching his (future) flock before founding his church and includes dozens of pages on the importance of understanding your audience when preaching to them and establishing programs to reach them.
>> Segmentation. Good online marketers segment their audience.
They don’t talk to everyone the same way because they understand that they probably have several audiences and if they want to influence them, they need to speak to each one about their own issues.
Dr Warren divides the members of his church into several buckets with different programming and different messaging.
Non-members (“the crowd”) are different to members (“the community”), who are in turn different to “the core” – the smallest group of people who are dedicated workers and leaders.
>> Develop your sales funnel. Good marketers don’t just randomly send people content. They build a path or journey for people to follow, which is designed to take them from prospect to lead to buyer.
Dr Warren has mapped out the exact journey he takes Church members through, from the moment they step through his doors until they become members, then become involved in the community and ultimately “commit to ministry”.
He calls it a “life development process” but it’s a sales funnel in my book!
Have you read any great marketing books? Please let me know what they are in the comments below.
She is director of content at Brainstorm Digital, which helps companies generate leads, enquiries and sales online.