Life is filled with interruptions. The phone rings in the middle of dinner; someone knocks at the door while you are focused on an important project; a person interrupts you in the midst of a conversation with someone else.
We have come to expect a certain number of interruptions in our lives, but as the number of interruptions increases our attentiveness to those interruptions declines. When we hit the breaking point, we may take the phone off the hook, ignore the knock at the door, or move our conversation behind closed doors. The clutter becomes deafening and we stop listening.
Historically, marketing has been all about interruption. Commercial spots interrupt programming on radio and TV. Billboards interrupt your concentration while driving down the road. Magazines often devote over half of their pages to interrupting your reading with ads. Over the years traditional marketing has used interruptive advertising because it worked.
However, the culture is changing… rapidly. The consumer has taken over the controls. They no longer want to be force fed information — they are tired of the interruptions. Consumers now control the information they receive, as well as the method and time they receive it.
If you want to continue to get your message out to the marketplace you need to creatively embrace Engagement Marketing.
Engagement Marketing uses a whole new set of rules. It respects the consumer’s opinions and choices; it does not attempt to force conclusions; it is a dialogue not a monologue.
Engagement Marketing involves two components: (1) meeting people where they already are and (2) allowing people to participate in the process.
Meeting people where they already are and entering into dialogue requires some not so traditional advertising methods … things like social networking, sponsoring community events, joining community organizations; participating in local festivals; or reaching out into the community on a relational level.
Some ministry examples come to mind…
- Provide a weekly meal for the neighborhood
- Give away free water at an annual street festival
- Provide high school equivalency classes and computer training for the community
- Offer economical daycare services to parents of young children
- Create an all-day festival for the neighborhood with music, food, and various forms of entertainment
All of these examples are things that are currently being done to effectively integrate a ministry brand into the lives of the people of their community.
How do we allow people to participate in the branding process? We start by listening and observing. Most churches and non-profits have a website — yours probably does. What pages are people visiting? Is there a reason for people to keep coming back? How often do members and donors use the website? When was the last time you were on the site?
The Internet is the most powerful interactive tool we have ever had. Yet most ministries underutilize this cost-effective and pervasive opportunity. Over 73% of the population of the US and 84% of the population in Canada actively uses the Internet. That’s about 220 million people in the US and 28 million in Canada. That is a much better reach than any TV, radio, or print outlet available to you.
Yet most churches and non-profits build an on-line “brochure site” and never utilize this great opportunity at their fingertips.
Begin to think of ways to engage people on your site. What could you do to encourage members and donors to make your website their home page? How can you ensure people visit your site again and again? How can you help people find your site on the web quickly and easily? How can your website become part of people’s daily lives? Answer these questions and you will be moving from interruption to engagement.
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