The title of this article is a trick question. There is no BEST way to market anything to everyone. However, video is obviously an extremely powerful medium as the current advertising campaign by the Mormon Church illustrates. Some comments about that project, some suggestions for creating your own videos, plus some suggestions on how you can combine video with other communication resources follow for an effective multi-channel outreach.
An extraordinary example of video sharing
Most likely you’ve seen some of the “I am a Mormon” videos on television or on the web. If you haven’t, I encourage you to look at them at www.mormon.org. I must admit to a bit of trepidation in referring you to the site because it is very powerful in advancing the Mormon religion.
My trepidation comes from the fact that I am not a Mormon and that I do not believe it is a Christian faith that correctly represents my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (for excellent apologetic resources about the Mormon Church, go to www.equip.org).
That being said, you cannot help but greatly admire the overall campaign and the extraordinary production quality of the videos and the site. They have taken a large cross-section of people and through video and text have them tell their story. The stories are from women, single fathers, people of various races. The cynic in me notes the somewhat excessive attempt to break from the stereotype of Mormons as primarily white males, but cynical or not, the message comes across that all sorts of people, people like you and me, are Mormon.
The videos are short and though they focus on people telling their story, each story is a very carefully edited view of life that emphasizes Mormon values without much detailed information about theology. In short, they have perfectly captured the spirit of the age where relationships are primary and asking deep questions is pushed aside for warm feelings and the appeal of being part of a caring, loving group such as this.
This is not the time or place to critique in depth their theology, but as an example of extraordinarily well-done videos to advertise a church, they are brilliant.
A great resource for how to create your own videos
Few churches have the resources to create videos of this quality—though some do and of course this magazine has a sister publication that is filled with great information all about video ministry. Be sure to sign up for it if you don’t get it at: http://www.christianvideomag.com.
A resource that I personally cannot recommend enough is www.webvideouniverity.com. There are lots of video training programs out there that, in my opinion, were too over the top to be really useful to the average person (not video ministry unit in a large church), who simply wanted to do some videos for teaching and ministry.
The person who runs the site, Dave Kaminski is an excellent, teacher who knows his topic extremely well and can explain it effortlessly. I personally highly recommend that you sign up for his video tip of the week and you can do that on his site, www.webvideouniversity.com. He offers an excellent, professional training course, plus training on specific topic including How to do Screencasts and How to use your flip-style camera to create videos. Please remember my ministry does not participate in affiliate programs or take advertising—I recommend what I genuinely like. To read a more detailed article on how his training helped me, go to this link:
How to combine video with other communication resources
Once you have created videos, you need to let people know they are available. You can do this in a variety of ways.
Social networking is an obvious one. You can upload videos to the numerous video sharing sites available, but if, like the Mormon videos, you may want to drive people back to your primary site, don’t upload all of them to YouTube or Vimeo or whatever else you use. Upload only a few teaser ones with links to your primary site.
Putting up links to short teaser videos, announcements of them, and links to a complete video site are obvious content choices for your church’s Facebook, Twitter and similar sites. We have recently assigned a person in our adult education class at church to be our “internet evangelist.” Her job is to continuously update our Facebook and Twitter accounts, plus interact and link with the main church site and the various members Facebook pages.
Don’t forget the power of paper
If you’ve done some things online that you and your people love, follow the lead of many national advertising companies and use print to inform people that the online material exists and to link them to it. Check out your snail mail this week and note how many advertisements, especially in the form of postcards, are created to get you to a website.
You can either do a postcard mailing from your church or you can create postcards in church office, and make up enough of them for every person in the congregation to have 3 of them. Put them in the church bulletin and then on Sunday morning, have the Pastor ask everyone to give or mail them out to friends or neighbors who might like to look at your videos.
We’ve found business cards with a condensed message are a great way to get people to our church and ministry websites. Make up a large number of them for the members of your congregation, give them out and encourage people to pass them on to friends. In the midst of life, we have lots of conversations and if your people are excited about some videos you have produced online, maybe even if they are part of it, they will want to tell their friends about it. Always having a business card with you that has the URL is a great way to share and connect with friends.
The pastoral uses of paper
Creating print items for your people to give out accomplishes lots more than simply adding another communication channel. You are also involving your people in outreach in an active, hands-on way.
Outreach is the task of everyone in the church—not just of those whose job it is to create professional communications while the people in the pew sit quietly and wait for new people to come. When you have invitation cards or postcards and everyone is involved in handing them out, they will most likely talk to the person to whom they are giving the card and nothing beats a personal recommendation for great marketing, whether it is for coffee or churches.
When the church is growing because people are involved in inviting, it also helps them be more welcoming when newcomers arrive—they are expected and prayed for.
Yes, it is more work to create the print communications and involve your people in using them, but remember when Jesus gave the Great Commission, he didn't pull aside a select group of marketers or pastors to go and share the gospel message. He gave the challenge to everyone listening. Sharing, marketing your church is everyone's job.
Video may not be the most powerful way to advertise your church, but if you create them yourself with honest, true content and use combine your use of video with other channels of communication; you will have a tool in the never-ending challenge of ministry to powerfully communicate your message.