I read a great article this morning by Laurie Sullivan of Marketing Daily that highlights the key points of a new report unveiled by Forrester Research at a forum in LA. Lots of juicy stuff for mavericks in ministry--highly recommend taking the time to read the whole thing. But here's a couple of key points that really jumped out to me as they relate to churches:
Marketers have lost control of what consumers say about brands, and "many have begun to realize they never had control in the first place,"
While many of us already know that, this next quote was even more interesting
'After consumers discover and evaluate products, marketers typically move on to sell to someone else. Now, analysts like Haven say, it's not enough. While the four "I" metrics provide insight into why consumers buy products, marketing professionals must also understand what happens after the sale, so they can assure the consumer has a positive relationship with brands and products from cradle to grave.'
First, what brands truly serve people from "cradle to grave" other than the church? If the marketplace is thinking about this, it seems we really should be joining the conversation. (okay, off the soapbox)
How often do we as churches focus on getting people in the door, but neglect to check in as the relationship progresses? I'm not talking about spiritual growth.. (which is always a good thing to be developing) I'm speaking from an engagement point of view. How engaged are people with your church? Is it increasing? Decreasing? What does that even look like?
The study highlights four "I" concepts: (there may be no "I" in team, but there's four in "engagement") I've italicized some additional thoughts as they relate to ministry growth
- "Involvement" tracks site visitors, time spent, page views and more through software & stats
I think we can also take this a step further by looking at small group involvement, length & frequency of volunteer opportunities, spiritual development and weekend/midweek participation
- "Interaction" measures the contributions to blogs, purchases made, or upload a photo or video.
Or consistency of tithing... in the ministry and nonprofit space, I think Involvement & Interaction can be combined or at least interchanged, (another "I" word) as the depth of interaction typically equates the level of involvement
- "Intimacy" tries to understand consumer attitudes, perception, and feelings about a brand through surveys.. Or periodic focus groups. Or first impression info cards
- "Influence" measures the likelihood that consumers will recommend or advocate products or brands. People who are new to your church (as well as Christianity in general) tend to be your biggest raving fans & want everyone to know about the impact that's been made in their lives. Do you know who they are? How are you equipping them to get the message out?
Haven's final point in the article explains engaged consumers will look different in different organizations. And they key is to define what that looks like for you & develop metrics to track progress. (The full study, "Measure of Engagement" is set to publish this May)