Way back in November we started our series of interviews with board members from our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication (CFCC). This week we come to the end of this series with Chad Cannon.
Chad is a marketing and branding specialist. He’s the youngest executive at Outreach Inc., with the title vice president of sales. He’s also the general manager for Outreach Speakers. You can follow Chad on Twitter.
Let’s cut straight to a hard question: Outreach sometimes gets a negative reputation for encouraging a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to church communication. What do you say to that critique?
Chad Cannon: That’s a great question. Thanks for allowing me to touch on this subject. As a company, we don’t and have never seen ourselves as a one-size-fits-all approach to church communication. We have continued to diversify the products we offer to churches and continue to do that. We have made a concerted effort to focus more marketing on the full custom and customization we can do for churches, which may have not been as highly touted previously, even though we’ve done them from day one. We’re all about creating communication tools for the church to become more invitational in their community.
Outreach offers a lot of different communication tools—what’s getting the best response these days?
Chad: As I mentioned in the first question, our custom services (both in direct mail & banners) are growing at rapid rates. This is because of the emphasis we’ve done from a sales & marketing approach, but also are seeing churches of all sizes want their communication to be custom (with their own photos of people in their church, logo, messaging, etc.) more than ever before. We’ve always encouraged this and offered it, but we’re seeing more people respond to it than ever before.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve seen churches do to communicate in the past year?
Chad: There were a lot of exciting things I saw in 2010 that churches did to communicate. I’m passionate about the American church and thus a student of it you could say. I would say the most exciting thing that comes to my mind first is what Lifechurch.tv is doing with YouVersion. They had a vision to create a Bible app/interface to be used on the computer and on mobile devices. It’s amazing to see how it’s grown (reading plans, number of minutes read, notes, etc.) and when you start talking about billions of minutes being spent in the Bible through this app/interface, that’s exciting! If that doesn’t get you excited, you’re in the wrong business.
Outreach is also known for some of its lists—largest and fastest growing churches. What can we learn from these lists?
Chad: I was a fan of this magazine before working at Outreach and am now an even bigger fan after working at Outreach. Our team does a phenomenal job each and every issue. I love the controversy that this issue of the magazine creates and the dialogue it creates. At the end of the day, numbers represent people, and those people represent a story of potential life change. Churches should be about numbers. Churches should be measuring how they’re doing in attendance year over year. Let’s not forget, Outreach publishes a Small Church issue every year that touts what small churches are doing across the nation each and every year. The Top 100 isn’t there to just elevate the mega church or diminish what small churches are doing across America.
What do you see down the road for the Center for Church Communication specifically and church communication in general?
Chad: I’m excited about the future of CFCC. The opportunities are endless, I believe. I see CFCC becoming a large network of church communicators/creatives that will provide resources and tools for churches to communicate more effectively. I see this being similar to what Behance.net is doing through creative professionals in the business world, but this being more targeted towards church communication.