Most churches are asking the question, “Should we have a local, regional, or national strategy when it comes to digital?”
I usually take the question to mean, “How do we get our content to stand out in a sea of content from churches all over the country?”.
This concern is of course valid: how do I get my content to reach more broadly? But whether your ambitions are local, regional, or national, the answer to the question for major retailers, and likely the church, is that the answer is always local.
Despite the fact that all of these retailers have a national presence, they don’t employ “national” marketing strategies. The VP of digital strategy at Target, whom we lovingly refer to as the Campus Pastor of Target Church, said it well: “The Target digital strategy is rooted in the local store.”
People still desire a tactile, in-person experience, they just may want to experience you digitally first. People will want to experience you in person if they have a good digital experience. Target’s digital approach is not taking away from the store. Rather, they took an integrative approach. They moved some stores to a smaller footprint and used the digital platform to learn what inventory to keep in stock based on tracking the needs of the communities around the local stores.
The reality is that people will attend physically if they’re given a good reason to do so. If it’s just about content delivery, you are forcing people to answer the question if they would rather engage with that content in person or from the couch.
Bottom line, we tend to assume that digital takes away from our in-person strategy. The reality is the opposite. A good digital strategy gives us more ways to engage more with more people.
What doesn’t work is taking an in-person experience, digitizing it, and calling it a digital experience. Kyle Ranson from Crossroads Church said it best, “that’s like recording a play and calling it a movie.”
So how should we be looking at our strategy? Relevance: Giving people what they are looking for at the time they want it most. This requires us to change the way we deliver and use content, where we see it as a way to get to know people more than for them to get to know us. And when groups of people tell us what is important to them, we have the opportunity of using the common interests and life circumstances of our people to drive community around those issues.
We’d love to hear from you! How are you using the digital platform to engage people in the movement of your local church? What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities during this time? Please take one minute to complete a few quick questions.