Planning an event? Here’s the first step in your church communications strategy
Here’s the dream: When you do the hard work of creating the perfect product or event, you probably don’t feel the need to hype it up. Who needs a Church Communications Strategy, anyway?
It seems like it should just sell itself — no need to say more than, “If you’re interested, check it out!” So, you add it to your website, start posting on social media, and begin talking about it during your weekly services.
But, here’s the problem:
Saying “check it out” might work if nothing else is competing for your audience’s attention. But, even if you can catch their attention for a moment, it’s hard to get people to feel the same way you do.
Here’s why that’s a problem:
Most people make emotional decisions, then support those decisions with logic later.
That means, in your church communications strategy, if you can’t connect with your audience on an emotional level, you’ll miss them — and they’ll miss out on whatever benefit you hoped to bring to their lives.
Here’s the solution:
Add “The Invitation” to Your Church Communications Strategy
The Invitation is a step-by-step process you can use to communicate the heart of what you’re trying to say. I know it sounds salesy, but it’s actually a form with five parts drawn directly from The Communication Triangle:
- What’s the dream?
- What’s the problem?
- Why is it a problem?
- What’s the solution?
- How do I get the solution?
When you learn The Invitation and begin applying it to your communications, more people will “get it.” You’ll move them to action because they’ll understand why you want them to sign up, show up, or make a purchase.
If you scan this article up to this point, you’ll see I’ve “invited” you into the idea of this article. All you’re missing now is part five, “How do I get the solution?”
It’s simple — just keep reading.
Crafting a Church Communications Strategy: The Difference Between Form and Formula
One quick aside before we get started.
I love writing songs and have spent decades learning how to write them. Great songs move me to tears. (I still can’t recite verse two of “The House that Built Me” without choking up!)
Song form is simple but demanding:
- Verse 1
- Verse 2
That simple form with some variation has given the world songs as different from each other as “Good Vibrations,” “You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party,” and “Waymaker.”
So, for those of you who say it’s better to just “wing it” in your communications than to apply some kind of formula, remember this:
Form is not the same thing as a formula. Formula nearly always kills emotion; form has the power to release it.
For someone who’s trying to communicate value, The Invitation is a form to help you communicate the heart of your message to people. It traces the unconscious journey you followed as you created your offering.
It also allows you to empathetically share that journey with your audience so you can make an emotional connection with them. You can make it sound false and salesy, but if you believe in what you’re doing, it probably won’t.
Additionally, The Invitation is how someone can take their generalized Communication Triangle and turn it into the first draft of an email, social post, video announcement, or landing page. It is the Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus of sales and marketing copy.
Here’s how it works.
1. What’s the Dream?
Before creating your Invitation, ask yourself, “Who is this meant to connect with?” This is usually a subset of your audience, and one you’ve hopefully defined in your Messaging Blueprint (a broader part of your church communications strategy).
Once you’ve clearly defined your audience, think about that person’s “dream scenario” in relation to your “Offer” (the thing you created).
For example, if you’ve created a men’s Zoom Bible study about the book of Jeremiah, think about the guys in your church. Their dream is probably not a Zoom Bible study on the book of Jeremiah!
But, maybe their dream is to:
- Have an amazing marriage
- Become a better dad
- Live free from addiction
- Understand this crazy world
Find a dream that connects to your Offer. Then, ask…
2. What’s the Problem?
What’s the reason your audience can’t get the thing they dream about? In the example above, here are likely problems:
- “I can’t consistently connect with my wife”
- “I always end up yelling at my kids, even when we’re having fun”
- “My addiction rules my life”
- “Every day, the news makes me feel worse than yesterday”
Write down the problem you think keeps most of the people you’re trying to help from living the dream you identified in step one.
3. Why Is It a Problem?
Most of us learn to live with our problems. We settle. If a man dreams of an amazing marriage but can’t consistently connect with his wife, he might be tempted to give up. He might just say, “I guess it’s not that bad. Maybe we’ll be okay.”
Here, you need to gently shake your audience out of its collective stupor:
“If you can’t consistently connect with your wife, you’ll miss out on all the beauty God intends for you as a married couple. You don’t want to regret putting up with the status quo if God had more for you.”
RELATED – If you’re a church creative managing messaging, visual identity, strategy, or all three at the same time—we get it, the fear of burnout is real! That’s why we created the ArtSpeak Creative Community. Restore your health and rediscover your creative purpose. Learn more here.
4. What’s the Solution?
Finally, describe your Offer as clearly and succinctly as possible.
First, you need a single sentence that describes both the Offer and its value. For example:
Our eight-week men’s Bible study, “The Thriving Marriage,” will help you revolutionize your relationship with your wife.
Then, you need a simple but compelling list of everything they will receive if they commit, like this:
- Get clear ideas from the book of Jeremiah to change the way you interact with your wife
- Talk with other guys who are going through the same things you are
- Get prayer and ongoing support from a community that’s committed to creating stronger marriages
As a husband, this would definitely speak to me. And even as I’m writing this, I think, “Man, I’d love to be part of something like that!”
5. How Do I Get the Solution?
If there isn’t a simple, clear, actionable path the guys in our example can take from “right now” to “sitting in men’s Zoom Bible study,” you’ll lose all of your hard work.
Your “Call to Action” (CTA) should be simple enough that anyone can act the very moment they learn about it.
Great CTAs include:
- “Send a text to (this number)”
- “Go to (this landing page) and click ‘Sign Up’”
- “Buy now”
- “Call (this number)”
CTAs that work less often are:
- “Here’s how to get started” (which sounds like you handing someone a task list)
- “If you’re interested, let’s connect sometime” (which will never happen)
- “Go to our website to learn more” (which is a boring research assignment)
Church Communications Strategy Tip: When you’re done creating your Invitation, smudge it a little.
When you share your Invitation, be careful not to announce the sections as they happen. It’s really tempting, especially when you’re speaking extemporaneously, to say things like, “The problem is,” and “The reason that’s a problem is…”
So smudge the form a little so it’s not so obvious what you’re doing. Smooth it out and make it flow.
Then, you can pick and choose how much of the Invitation you want to share. You can skip sections. You can draw out sections. It all depends on what you’re communicating and the medium in which you’re communicating.
For example, imagine a social post about the men’s Bible study above. You could hit the dream, the solution, and the CTA pretty quickly:
Husbands—You can have a stronger marriage.
Our 8-week men’s Bible study will show you how. Sign up here (LINK)
However (and this is critical): Never go out of order. The order works because it moves people along an emotional path.
It’s very tempting to talk about a dream, followed by a problem, then announce another dream. When you do that, it will confuse your reader or listener, especially if you have already made the connection.
Then, once you’ve announced your Call to Action — for the love of all that is holy — stop. Any words that come after your call to action will undo your work.
In the coming weeks, we’ll talk about how to apply “The Invitation” to an email, an email sequence, and a landing page. But, this form works for just about any kind of communication.
Now, in total transparency, I’m going to Invite you into ArtSpeak’s services in the next section. See if you can identify the form — I’ve tried to smudge it a little so it flows.
Do you need more people to sign up or show up?
When you founded your church or organization, you knew God would use it to change lives. People need what you have to offer, because it has everything to do with Him, His Word, and the Spirit’s work in real people’s hearts.
So, it can be disappointing when you open your doors (physical or virtual), and no one shows up. And, you can’t communicate the message of Jesus if you can’t even get people to walk through the front door.
At ArtSpeak Creative, we help life changers reach more people, making emotional connections and inspiring action. We’ve designed our branding process, websites, and ongoing strategy to help you connect with your audience.
If you’d like a free 30-minute consultation with an ArtSpeak marketing pro, fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch.