Recently, I shared some ideas on how to improve your church’s word of mouth marketing. Another way you could look at that is the idea of creating brand advocates. These are people who are so passionate about what you’re doing that they go out and promote your organization on their own. It’s a perfect fit for the church. Historically, the number one way new people come to church is through personal invitation. Doesn’t that mean we should be really intentional about doing ministry that makes our members advocates?
That’s why I was so intrigued by a recent Fast Company article called How To Really Transform Loyal Customers Into Brand Advocates. It is a good read. While it’s focusing on the business of turning paying customers into brand advocates, there are some principles that are good for us in the non-profit world. I’m going to take some of the key points and twist them a bit so they make sense for the church setting.
- Give people a reason to engage with you in the first place. The services you provide, sermons you preach and community you foster have to be compelling. People want to get behind something they passionately believe in. A solid, clearly communicating church in action gives something for people to be a part of and share with others.
- Help new people connect more deeply with your church. Are you building a church culture that helps people use their gifts to be a part of your mission to share God’s story? Commit to helping members plug-in at your church. This means having a clear assimilation process for new people to become more involved and have programs to help members connect. It also means following through when someone shows interest in taking action.
- Don’t assume your brand advocates are going to stick by your brand with bland messages. Okay I didn’t change this one much. The truth is good communication matters. A church that is going through the motions isn’t going to be as powerful as one that regularly compels people to change themselves and serve others. Resist bland and boring. Embrace storytelling and real life application. It’s not a guarantee that people will stay with your church if they’re not growing or connecting.
- Recognize and thank advocates. When you notice someone who’s actively involved and sharing your church with friends, thank them for doing it. We all like to feel valued. Recognizing someone’s work shows you are engaged with your members.
- Listen, make changes and equip advocates. In the words of Jerry McGuire, “Help me to help you.” Part of making advocates feel special is listening to their needs. Are there practical changes your church can implement to make it easier for others to share your church? If so, do it. Let the advocate know their suggestion is now a policy. Again, it helps create buy-in and build relationships. In addition to listening, think of ways you can be intentional about equipping advocates. Are you giving them the right tools or content to make it easier for them to talk with their friends about your church?