One of the hardest concepts of marketing and promotion that I have to convey to my ministerial clients is how difficult it is to get an audience to pay attention to their message. People are bombarded with marketing and advertising in almost every sector of their lives and it has become a natural response to ignore any message that doesn't step outside the boundaries of exception. For Ministry outreach, this means hitting three primary objectives with each and every communication: 1. An unexpected, but relevant element. 2. A single, clear message. 3. Repetition, repetition, repetition In short, this is a strategy for overcoming the information clutter that you're competing against in the battle for attention. It takes more than pretty graphics and an invitation to get people involved or coming to your church. The fact is, it takes most people a very long time to even notice you exist. When they do become aware, assuming they ever do, there is a decision-making process that presents a significant hurdle. A good Ministry marketing and promotional campaign implement strategies that not only help you get noticed, but also help your target audience decide to take action or get involved. But it takes far more than a single exposure to your postcard, website, or TV commercial. The problem is not new or limited to ministry. In 1885, a London businessman by the name of Thomas Smith, recognized the difficulty faced by advertisers of the day. Jay Conrad Levinson recounts Smith's observation in his book, Guerrilla Marketing. Smith believed: · The first time a man looks at an ad, he doesn’t see it. · The second time, he doesn’t notice it. · The third time, he is conscious of its existence. · The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it. · The fifth time, he reads the ad. · The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it. · The seventh time, he reads it through and says, “Oh brother!” · The eight time, he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again!” · The ninth time, he wonders if it amounts to anything. · The tenth time, he will ask his neighbor if he has tried it. · The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay. · The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing. · The thirteenth time, he thinks it might be worth something. · The fourteenth time, he remembers that he wanted such a thing for a long time. · The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it. · The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it someday. · The seventeenth time, he makes a memorandum of it. · The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty. · The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully. · The twentieth time he sees the ad, he buys the article or asks his wife to do so. Smith was not far off the mark. Believe me, this is only a very slight exaggeration. It's a whole lot harder now. This is a lesson we in Ministry need to learn and take to heart. You want to have an unexpected but relevant element in your communications because if you say or send what people expect, your message gets lost in the pack and becomes “invisible.” You’re fighting clutter with clutter. No matter how graphically superior or well designed, a familiar message that looks like everything else is the equivalent of “white noise.” In addition, avoid the temptation to cram in too much information. Be relevant, but don’t be wordy. Speak to the core issue and nothing more. If you say one thing and say it well, your message is much more likely to resonate and land with your audience. Lastly, the need for frequency of communication with your community cannot be overestimated. Most of the folks I encounter who are involved in Ministry, marketing and promotion don't plan for this or give up long before the people they want to reach out to have received their message. You've got to develop a clear, relevant message and get it in front of your audience repeatedly. All of this applies whether you are marketing to initial contacts or following up with people who have responded to your efforts and visited your church even a few times. Letting up is giving up. Frankly, follow-up work is never done. So, how committed to your ministry are you?