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Remember Radio? It’s a wireless audio delivery system … most cars are outfitted with it … you just turn it on and all kinds of content comes streaming in. Some “channels” (sort of like a Pandora Station) play music while others offer mostly talk (sort of like Podcasts but with more arguing). 🙂
We spent a lot time on unSeminary talking about digital communication strategies for churches. I’m a fan and student of new media … but at the same time I think there is a place for “old media” in your overall strategy. I think you should “technology agnostic” … you should you be open to using any medium to get the message out to the community around you. Have you considered running traditional radio ads at your church? I think you should consider it … even if it’s just to rule it out!
My church was using radio ads before I joined the team. I remember when I was first getting my bearings and I heard that we were doing radio ads … I was a bit shocked. Really? I thought … but this church seems so progressive? Why are we using such an old technology? Because it works it for us. If our stats continue to bare out this year we will have almost 300 first time guests arrive at our church that indicate that they came because they heard about us on the radio. That’s 6 guests this weekend … and the weekend after that … and the weekend after that. We’ve run our ads on a few different stations but our most consistent station over the years has been Star 99.1 … a contemporary Christian radio station. We see Star as a partner in reaching our state with the message for Jesus.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the people who have come to our church because of these ads. I would have assumed that advertising on a “Christian music channel” would mean we’d only get disgruntled Christians from other churches. It turns out that a lot people listen to Star 99.1 that don’t really have any connection to church … they like the channel because of it’s positive approach to life. (Remember … we’re in the radio market that spawned Howard Stern!) Advertising on radio has consistently helped us reach new people in a way that few other forms have! In fact, for a long time when you polled our first time guests “radio” was only second to “friend” when you ask people how they heard about our church. I think your church should consider jumping into the radio game and investing to see more people connected with what God is doing at your church!
Here are some lessons we’ve learned about making radio ads that seem to get traction with people. (Take a few minutes and listen to some of my favorite ones at the top of this post!)
- Feature Your Team // When guests arrive at our church the most “visible” leaders they will encounter are our teaching team. 2/3rds of our service is teaching … and so we feature our teaching team in the ads because we want to start to build a bridge with our first time guests. The radio station you’re working with might offer to have one of their people do the ad but we’ve found that featuring our team in the ad makes it sound more like us!
- It takes time. // We’ve been doing radio ads consistently for the last 6 years. It takes time to build up a response from people. If you are going to commit to doing this … it’s going to take at least a year of consistent ads on the same station to start to see if it’s “working”.
- Production Quality // We want the ads to sound crystal clear and have the same sound quality of the national ads on the station. Our team spends time polishing each ad to ensure it’s as good as we can put out there. Most stations can help you with this part of the process but we’ve brought it in house so we can control the ad more.
- Be Yourself! // There is only one church like yours on the planet … make sure your ad reflects that! Think through what makes your church unique in the market that you are playing … hit those messages all the time. For us we try to reflect the personality of our team, our kids’ ministry, our music and the message series we present.
- Make People Smile // Life is mostly kind of boring. People listen to radio largely in the car while they are on their way to some other place that actually want to be. Inject some joy into the situation with your ad. This is also a proven tactic for having people remember your ad more … if you connect your message with an emotion the chance of the audience remembering the message goes way up!
- Keep It Simple // Focus on the ad on presenting who you are and getting them to your website. People won’t retain your physical address, phone number, service times … and the rest of the list that you’d like to list off. Keep the “call to action” as simple as you can. For us we try to tell a little “story” in each ad and then inject a simple “about us” blurb that we try to keep as tight as possible. Don’t make it more complicated that it needs to be.
- Use Sound Effects // We’re trying to transport people to scene quickly and so we use sound effects and music to support the story we’re telling. People can process both what your “talent” is saying as well as some sound under that. Use the sound effects to punch through the noise of the rest of the ads on the station … make it stand out!
- The First 6 Seconds // All of our ads are designed to grab people’s attention and set up the “tension” of the story in the first few seconds. In those first moments people are deciding to listen or not … if you can win them over at that point there is a pretty good chance they will hear you all the way through. Grab their attention and set up why they should listen in!
- Repetition // Repeat the name of your church as many times as possible. If you want people to go to your website … make sure you say that multiple times. Build the script around the idea of wanting people to hear whatever is important multiple times! (Did I repeat myself enough in this point?)
Does your church do radio ads? I’d love you to link to a copy of your ads in the comments!