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Posted by on Jul 6, 2011 in communications | 9 comments

Why drips are more effective than explosions in church communications.

Why drips are more effective than explosions in church communications.

This week we’re exploring some communications trends that I think are affecting your communications efforts at your church . . . whether you acknowledge them or not!


Consider these facts . . . and their effect on the people you are attempting lead at your church:

  • 48% of 18- to 34-year-olds check Facebook as soon as they wake up. [1]
  • The average person sees 5,000 ad messages a day. (Up from 2,000 when Rick Warren started Saddleback) [2]
  • 94% of 18- to 35-year-olds send and receive text messages on their cel phones daily. [3]
Your people are in the midst of a river of information all the time . . . they are constantly in dialogue with literally hundred of people, businesses and thought leaders. At any given moment they are checking in on what’s happening with the kids . . .getting an update from work . . . seeing what Ashton Kutcher is having for dinner . . . checking in on the scores from the games last night . . . and watching a trailer for that upcoming movie they can’t wait to download.
In that information climate . . . do you really think that doing a great announcement on Sunday will make a difference? (even if you get a write up in the bulletin?)
Drips are more effective than explosions in church communication.
  • Drips are a series of small communication tactics sequenced over time.
  • Explosions are a small number of large communications efforts over a small amount of time.
  • Drips are about reminding and poking.
  • Explosions are about selling.
  • No message rides on a single drip.
  • Explosions are about shock and awe.
  • Drips are a part of the dialogue.
  • Explosions try to set the agenda.
  • Drips are viral.
  • Explosions are broadcast.
We recently hosted a series of “House Parties” for the launch of our next campus at Liquid. The purpose of these House Parties was to help our people meet some folks from the region, interact with our new campus leaders and learn about joining a team. We dripped the communication to community about these “launch critical” events.
  • Events – We hosted community building events (that’s fun stuff to the rest of us) leading up to the house parties in December, February & March.
  • Direct Mail – We sent two pieces of mail to everyone’s homes . . . one a month out and one basically right as they were starting.
  • Calling – We picked up the phone and called people.
  • Weekly Emails – We built an “opt-in email list” over six months and weekly emailed that community to include them in the most up to day information.
  • Staff – Made it “top of mind” with our staff . . . to be pointing people towards these events.
  • Direct Asks – As we saw people who weren’t registered for the events yet . . . we emailed them directly (like an actual direct email . . . not “robo-email”) and asked them to come.
  • Facebook – As the events were happening . . . we posted photos to facebook to let people “see” inside the events.
  • Announcement – We did announce these events from stage . . . once.
Our hope was to have 125 people at these events . . . in the end we had over 200 people sign up! Which of these pieces was the “most effective” in helping us drive attendance? None of them . . . all of them. The point is that each of the small interactions slowly moves people towards the goal. One small step at a time.

As church leaders we think a lot about what happens on Sunday . . . we care about what is said in the announcements and from stage and is in the program every week. Our people don’t. As soon as you make that announcement about the event coming up . . . they get a text from their middle schooler in your program saying the games are kinda lame today . . . and check their email from their boss at work . . . and so on.
We need to drip our communications over time . . . to cultivate a community and environment . . . rather than push our product.

How have you seen “drips” work in your environment? Why do you think we resist “dripping?” [I’d love to hear your thoughts now!]

9 Comments

  1. Rich…thanks for this. Great insights. The drips are more effective than massive drops. I think I’ve also found that after I’ve heard an idea or information four or five times through various media, I internalize it as my own. When ownership rises, that’s a good thing. It’s less about what ‘you’re’ doing and more about what I now want to do.

    Thanks man!

  2. Spot on as usual Rich! We have driven home two concepts about communications: 1) You need to come up with 7 different methods of communication about an event/class/ministry, 2) The pulpit/stage announcement should be the LAST resort.

    So often staff feel that the stage announcement is the “holy grail” of communications, when in reality it can be the least effective.

    In a world inundated with chatter, it is the personal communication (i.e. email, snail mail, phone calls, tap on the shoulder) that have the great impact. And, as you said, when combined in a designed plan, they can take you over the top.

    • Willy!

      I love the benchmark of 7 other channels first. Love it!

      Rich

  3. “Your people are in the midst of a river of information all the time . . . they are constantly in dialogue with literally hundred of people, businesses and thought leaders . This is a great post, Rich. I sent it to those in my leadership who deal the most in the area of communication telling them, “this is the ‘academic’ of saying what we’ve been working on for the past 9 months.” I honestly haven’t thought about the twitter/newsfeed/espn,cnn ticker connection to our communication (and I think about communication all the time).

    We launched Vertical Church http://govertical.org the 1st week of February using an approach like this but not nearly as organized which made us hit and miss. The majority of our communication has been done using inexpensive methods like facebook, twitter, text and blogs. It has been VERY successful for us – this post really brings all of our methods together with a more focused attack.

    Communication from the stage should be in addition to THE REAL plan of communication, a last push because I have found it is the least effective. I love your concept.

    I’m so interested in penetrating the way people think, communicate and receive communication. The message we communicate is the Ultimate message – may we give it the utmost of importance and carry it to those who need it with urgency.

  4. “Your people are in the midst of a river of information all the time . . . they are constantly in dialogue with literally hundred of people, businesses and thought leaders.” This is a great post, Rich. I sent it to those in my leadership who deal the most in the area of communication telling them, “this is the ‘academic’ way of saying what we’ve been working on for the past 9 months.” I honestly haven’t thought about the twitter/newsfeed/espn,cnn ticker connection to our communication (and I think about communication all the time).

    We launched Vertical Church http://govertical.org the 1st week of February using an approach like this but not nearly as organized which made us hit and miss. The majority of our communication has been done using inexpensive methods like facebook, twitter, text and blogs. It has been VERY successful for us – this post really brings all of our methods together with a more focused attack.

    Communication from the stage should be in addition to THE REAL plan of communication, a last push because I have found it is the least effective. I love your concept.

    I’m so interested in penetrating the way people think, communicate and receive communication. The message we communicate is the Ultimate message – may we give it the utmost of importance and carry it to those who need it with urgency.

    • Thanks so much for your nice words! I’d love to hear more about your launch communication plan. What worked, what didn’t work. Church planters are my heros.

  5. Our launch communication plan was far from groundbreaking… and can I start by saying God was all over this process. He did things that only HE could do, making things bigger and better than they should have been. By the way, the area we live in is small – about 28,000 in our bible belt town.

    Over the years as we went through the prayer/faith process that *should* come before planting a church I watched many people put lots of money into having huge launch days only to lose over half of their opening crowd over the next 2 weeks. My team and I felt like that would be a momentum killer for the teams and their leaders who were working so hard to be excellent. Not wanting to see such large attrition early on our launch plan was more of a grassroots type of steady communication, much like you are talking about in this post. In short, our people WERE and are our greatest communication tool – people talking to people about Jesus.

    Most of our communication was done via social networking, mainly facebook. We encouraged our people to share to their walls the important things we were sharing. We made sure that we communicated short and too the point. We used eye-catching images whenever possible.

    In real-time we used invite cards very liberally and a few yard signs. We bought no news or even electronic ads; we chose not to use mass mail. Even though we had a “launch” day it was not a saturation type of launch. I guess people knew about because we built a strong team / foundation. More than anything the Lord led us to impress upon our people that we were here to help people who don’t like church meet God. We spoke that at every opportunity, explaining it as often as we could. Our launch team believed and truly communicated it to the many people they knew who believed in God but didn’t like church. It was a constant, consistent communication effort.

    The last bit of communication we did was visual – we wanted to make sure that we communicated excellence to everyone who came in the hopes that they would be interested in returning. May we never forget we communicate in our environments every weekend in addition to what we communicate from the platform. We strive to communicate excellently in that way.

    The result: We had what we felt was a big turnout for opening weekend (296). Week 2 we only lost 28%. Week 3 we grew from that. We are averaging weekly 10% above launch day and the church plant killer June has turned out to be our biggest month yet.

    • So great! So glad to hear that your summer is going well! That really can be so tough!

      Thanks so much for sharing. Some great insights in here!

      Rich

  6. oh… forgot to mention that as of now we have been successful in reaching people who weren’t previously attending church. The large number of unsaved has resulted in a large number of professions of faith at Vertical. We have had the privilege of baptizing 47 people in our first 5 months. These people are joining groups, serving and learning what it means to follow God. Praise Jesus!!!

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