Lessons for Your Church from Retail Loyalty Programs with Joel Percy

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re chatting with Joel Percy today who is a consultant helping retailers in the area of personalization and loyalty. Listen in as we learn from him about receiving feedback, personalization and how you can use these strategies to help people take their right next step at your church.

  • Focus on impressions. // Retail stores and churches both deal with the issue of how to bring people back after their initial experience there. The advancements in technology now allows the processing of data on a huge scale so retailers can be highly specific when targeting people in marketing. But some retailers will use this info to try to push customers toward buying things they don’t really want. The same can be said for our churches. Churches want to mobilize people for their mission and can inadvertently put intense emotional pressure on people who feel we’re like salesmen pushing them to do something they don’t want to do. For example, putting all the focus on just getting people to volunteer can make the ones who have had a rough week or too much on their plates already feel that they’re being pressured into doing more. Be aware of how you’re coming off to others – are they feeling pressured to participate, or invited to join you? It’s important that we have ways of collecting data at our churches that allow us to see what people are really interested in and then serve them accordingly.
  • Focus on listening. // Announce that you’ll be collecting feedback from the people attending your church in order to better listen to them. Some ways to do this may be through online surveys or focus groups. But however you choose to receive feedback, the spirit of it has to be genuine. You need to be ready to hear things that you may not want to hear. And once you’ve received responses, see if there are items you can take action on right away. Really quick action on at least a few things where possible goes a very long way. It’s really important to listen to what people say so we receive feedback and so they feel valued, but also realize that there is a gap between what people do and their self-perception. As leadership we need to discern if there are ways where the community is saying one thing, but they may be actually driven on another level by something else.
  • Focus on the real situations. // Data is great, but some things can only be identified by observing in person. Pay attention to the actual situations when people who walk into your church: Where do they go? Where do they stand for a minute, confused about where to drop off their kids? Where are they trying to find a place to sit? Where is the traffic flow of the church congested? Watching people interact with your ministries and environments may help you get some interesting insights pretty quickly.
  • Focus on the right next step. // Good marketing is not about trying to move people three steps at a time. Ask yourself, “What is the right next step for a certain group of people?” For example, if someone attended a newcomer’s class last week, maybe it’s not the right time for them to be included on the radical giving campaign email the next week. Based on the data you’ve collected, figure out what’s a good reasonable next step for different people. Then focus on helping them take that one, simple step.
  • Focus on expertise. // There are probably industry experts and marketplace leaders in your church that you could learn from in a variety of areas. The majority of them would probably be happy to talk with you about insights and ideas, so focus on the areas they have expertise in and ask them for help.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.