This is the fourth post in a series about using the world’s tools.
I expect that in 2011, most churches already have a brochure website. So I don’t necessarily think it would be valuable to talk about the value of building one. But I do want to talk about some ideas that can make a brochure website more valuable.
What is a “brochure” website? A brochure is a piece of marketing literature that describes the goods or services you provide in terms of the value proposition to the recipient or consumer. A brochure website is basically the same thing, only on the internet. If you have a “new” attendee packet that you physically hand out to people when they attend your ministry for the first time, it would probably have the same comment.
Here are my ideas for making your brochure website more valuable:
- Focus on your audience – who is the target community that your ministry is trying to reach/attract/minister to? What do they need to know about your ministry? Do you have a single homogeneous audience, or is your audience subdivided? How would each subgroup interact/particpate in your ministry? What would that change about what they need to know?
- If you had to pick one idea to implement from the list, this is it. On the internet, people’s attention span is measured in seconds, providing them with the information they want, without making them work for it is number 1. On the internet, people experience this as love. You care enough to focus on them – and give them what they were looking for. It makes them feel important. If they have to dig for it, that subconsciously registers with them as if you are telling them its not important to you.
- Put it up front – Practically, in the design of your site, this means moving the most important information to your target audience to a place of prominence. Don’t make them scroll or navigate or search.
- Keep it simple – Don’t put every idea you have on your main page. Don’t feel like you have to tell everybody everything at once. Prioritize your communications, so that the most important information is the easiest to get, and the less important is “out of the way”.
- Love your audience – Put yourself in the place of your audience. Think how they will think, anticipate their needs and wants, lavish your attention on them. By designing the site with them in mind, they will experience that you care about them. This is the web way of showing them “love”. By respecting the amount of time it takes them to interact with your site.
- Examples – if your church is targeting the unchurched, in the near community, then you are going to focus on the information about community involvement and events that will be non-threatening to these people. If your community is younger, you are going to focus on that. If your community is multi-generational, you will diversify to expose how you have something for all age demographics. If you are targeting working families, then you will emphasize programs that help them with kids and are available during non-woring times. You put the attractive stuff up front. Then for others (for example people who are already saved who are looking for a new church home) you have information on your beliefs and your denominational affiliations, and your core values, and stuff that unchurched folks are less interested in, and it will be in a place of lesser prominence. If you are focused on getting new people to participate in your ministry, help them feel comfortable by explaining how they will experience their first time, help manage their expectations.
- Keep it current – Nothing says “We Stink” more than a website that hasn’t been updated since Moses crossed the Red Sea. People viewing your website with old calendar events, and old messages and out of date information will quickly come to the conclusion that:
- Nothing good is happening, otherwise they would be telling me about it.
- If these people can’t keep their calendar up to date, how are they at running a church?
- This organization is neither intentional or diligent in this simple communication task – how intentional or diligent will they be about producing fruit? Or caring for my kids? Or ministering to the poor? etc.
- If you can’t keep it up to date, kill it- be ruthless don’t leave old junk out there in cyberspace cluttering things up and making you look bad – just cut and run figure out what you can afford to keep current and focus on that. Better a small well maintained thing than a huge mess.
- Diversify – Have a separate site for your youth ministry, or any separate entity that diversifies its experience from the core or main thrust of ministry.
- Understand the the participants of diverse programs within your ministry community respond differently to information, content, branding and experience.
- You diversify the ministry experience, so diversify your web presense to meet the needs of diverse audiences within your ministry community.
- Let participants of each ministry link directly to that ministry’s home page – without needing to link from the “mother ship”
- Just like you would have different paper brochures or pamphlets for different programs, do the same thing with your website.
This is not a brochure website idea, but it is the other website that you need along with it.
- Pay attention to your members and volunteers – Have a separate site for your current members/volunteers that focus the same attention on them.
- Core leaders and volunteers have different information and communication needs than those you are trying to attract.
- Publish resources and links for these people to information originating outside your own organization.
- Help ministry workers collaborate with each other about schedules and vacation coverage.
- Publish ministry resource needs so that those who have/are resources can respond.
- Celebrate your fruitfulness – publish your ministry stats and stories of victory and blessing. Encourage your team.
- Publish volunteer job descriptions and qualifications along with information to help new volunteers get “equipped” to serve.