The Apostle Paul encouraged us to be "all things to all people that we might win some" and in today's world that means using every communication channel possible to reach people for Jesus. Recently however, I've read a number of articles that encourage communicators in how to combine print and digital channels for maximum communication effectiveness. Following are some quotes from them and then applications for churches.
Use print and digital side by side
Quote: Maybe it really isn’t about print or digital first, but leading together, side by side. The mantra of the web has always been more powerful and successful when it is collaborate, not compete. Why compete with each other? Why should any product go first, when both can cross the finish line at the same time if they work together?
The smart answer isn’t putting digital or print first, but to put design and usability first, using each product for what they do best and let them do it together.
Practical application: One of the best ways print and digital can work together in the church is when your church bulletin mentions an activity or event for the print notice to link to the church web for background information and explanations. In addition, your social media can remind, link to the website material. Your print (business cards, bulletin, and postcards) would also have the URL for your website and links to your social media.
This can work especially well for seasonal celebrations. For example, at Christmas your church will probably sponsor a variety of events. On your website you can have explanations of why Jesus really is the reason for the season, what Advent is all about, suggestions for how you can use the season to train children, a Q & A section for people unfamiliar with church. In addition you can use your social media to remind people of what is available in more depth and encourage them to invite their friends.
Print and digital mix works best to market events
Quote: Not only does a mix of communication mediums enhance brands, they can effectively work together to create a marketing solution, which adds real value by engaging customers with measurable results. An example of this is using variable data printed pieces that are specifically targeted and personalized to engage a customer, combined with digital solutions for example a corresponding personalized web page that enables further interaction. This kind of communication has proven results to increase response rates and improve customer retention giving a far better return on investment than static printed or passive digital communications alone.
From: David Allsopp, director, ASAP Digital: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2012/07/24/paper-and-print-print-v-digital
Practical application: To use Christmas as an example again, create print material such as postcards and invitation cards, for your congregation to give out that once again link to expanded digital explanations. Even more effective, if you have the communication volunteers who are able to do this, would be to create blog or web sections for specific groups in your church, for example: "Parents ideas to teach kids at home about Jesus at Christmas" and hand out flyers in Children's Sunday School classes and send out emails and social media to parents. Another idea would be a series of tweets going to teenagers directing them to a blog or Facebook entries about "How to invite your friends to church without being embarrassed about it."
Creative Print can make your church stand out (2 related quotes here)
Quote:According to marketing experts, there is a new resurgence of print marketing from forward-thinking business people who recognize the revenue potential of direct-mail ads and other print promotions. In a crowded online market in which users are bombarded with banner ads and display ads, people are becoming jaded by internet advertising. Print is becoming a legitimate alternative.
It’s sometimes difficult to differentiate your business in a crowded online market. However, it’s not so difficult to make a difference with a posters, flyers, or other print promotions. A large proportion of companies have yet to take advantage of new digital technologies. By optimizing your print promotions, you can create print promotions that not only stand apart, but also do a great job of bringing customers from a print ad to your website or sales offer.
Since working for print companies for the past 5 years, I can honestly say that print never went away for a lot of businesses. Especially small business and local chains that completely rely on direct mail offers and local print ads for their walk-in business. I also see larger businesses starting to return to print to take advantage of new technologies that make it possible for customers to interact with them via smart phones. Thanks to the gigantic leaps-forward in smart phone technology, we are now able to bring customers to smart phone optimized web pages, social media pages, landing pages, and even to our checkout pages – directly from a print ad. QR code technology is fast becoming an effective bridge between these two worlds.
Quote: Nowadays, printed materials such as books, brochures and magazines frequently direct readers to other digital media sources to supplement their experience with sound or moving image. A recent example of this in action is Jodi Picoult’s novel ‘Sing You Home’, in which readers can scan a QR code at the beginning of each chapter to hear a soundtrack intended to ‘bring the character of Zoe to life for the reader by giving her a real voice’.
Practical application: A key application here is how posters, flyers, and other print promotions can drive people to your expanded digital resources. No matter what any SEO "expert" tells you, you need more than the savvy use of keywords to get your church website found. One way to do it is in the same way that we check out the website from any company when we get an advertisement in the mail or Sunday paper that looks interesting, print in the form of postcards, mailers, invitation cards, or posters at the local coffee shop can drive people to your website.
The creation of QR codes added to creative media has many exciting options for the church—imagine an outreach postcard or poster with a QR code taking you to a your praise band, podcast or video that was specifically designed for an unchurched audience.
Finally—though we may often wish we didn't have to create so many channels of communication, to reach our world today we need a mixture of print and digital to be "all things to all people that we might win some."