Stop Failing to Plan – Start a Content Strategy

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MonkDev_ContentStratIn addition to business consulting, I’ve spent a great deal of time in the non-profit organization and local church space. I recently found that the team at Monk Development created a well-documented white paper on “Content Strategy and The Church” that I have deconstructed for the purpose of considering their research and findings. This is a business-savvy, researched white paper that at a mere 15 pages is a worthy read. Here are my observations based on their work.

Churches, almost regardless of size, act a lot like small ‘mom-and-pop’ businesses; they go with the flow, opportunistically taking advantage of their audience through minimally prepared communications aimed at the most urgent needs. Even a small modicum of strategic planning would aid considerably in aligning the mission of the church with the opportunities in their communities.

In the online marketing world, the emphasis has shifted from promoting constantly to mapping out a content strategy to specific, targeted people-segments. You’ve no doubt experienced this when you’ve searched for a product only to realize advertisements for that product are suddenly showing up frequently – and seemingly everywhere you go online. That’s not a coincidence; that’s a targeted marketing strategy. In a potentially less creepy fashion, churches (or non-profits or businesses) can create content that connects with certain demographics and brings them back for more helpful content and connections. When organizations utilize a content strategy to not only create an interest in/attendance of/participation in activities, the measurable results provide new growth opportunities. Stated simply:

A content strategy allows leaders to consistently connect people with the organization’s mission, vision, and values.

WINGING IT

Of the surveyed churches in the white paper, Monk Development found that 80% of churches did not have a content strategy and an editorial calendar. No plan? No insight. No systems in place? No consistent way to understand effectiveness. When a leader has good feedback and helpful trend analysis, they’re better positioned to help lead people to the right areas of meaningful involvement.

“In a world that is increasingly noisy, there is not much room for an uncoordinated message; unless you’re not looking to make a significant impact.”Dave Shrein, Host, Church Marketing Sucks podcast. I love this quote! While I don’t think many pastors would determine not to make a significant impact, the lack of a content strategy has a direct correlation to not aligning the mission, vision, and values of their church to meeting the opportunities in their local predicament.

PLANNING AHEAD

I’ve heard a lot of reasons why certain leaders don’t plan too far ahead. In the church world, there tends to be a lot of emphasis placed on pastors hearing God best ‘at the last minute.’ While I haven’t found God to be a chatter-box talking our ears off all the time, the fact that He took six full days to build – well, everything – show that he had a plan and a progressive purpose. God is the god of order, not chaos. It would stand to reason, therefore, that hearing from God shouldn’t be confined to ‘last minute’. YMMV.

ChurchContentPlanning

“How far in advance do you plan your content?”

“Seven years back we, too, were planning our content and even our services one to two weeks in advance. This led to a frantic pace where nearly everything felt rushed. We made decisions hurriedly. We used to think we couldn’t plan ahead because we wanted to be ‘Spirit led’ in all we do…There is a lot more time for the Spirit to lead and it also allows decisions to be made without feeling frantic or stressed.” —Gerry True, Minister of Communication Arts, Oak Hills Church

With greater planning and, here’s the key – listening – the opportunity for creating content that connects is not only greater, but the impact of the results should be, too.

A fully implemented content strategy is a planned series of touch points designed to foster involvement and community.

HOW TO START A CONTENT STRATEGY

The framework for a content strategy includes:

  • Establishing & managing an ‘Editorial Calendar’ for planning & content prioritization.
  • Ensuring all content is aligned with the defined mission, vision, and values of the organization.
  • Eschewing information volume for valuable content shared with intentionality and consistency.
  • Efficiently measuring the effectiveness of awareness and call-to-action campaigns.

What any organization’s leaders need is not more information, but useful insights for making informed decisions. This is as true for businesses as it is for churches, though the ‘bottom line’ is substantially different. However, it’s difficult to make informed decisions when leaders lack objective and accurate insights.

To download the free white paper, click here: “Content Strategy and the Church”

Have you taken the first steps to build out an editorial calendar and content strategy? Yes or no, tell us why and what would help you further in the comments below or email Anthony Coppedge for direct help.

 

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