I can spot an Old Navy commercial from a mile away. Maybe it’s the bright colors or the almost-recognizable celebrities or perhaps the fact that I used to work at an Old Navy in Minneapolis (Mall of America shout out!). Whatever it is, their commercials are obvious. Unfortunately their commercials aren’t always attractive… at least not to me. Maybe I’ve outgrown the sporty track jackets and fleece-lined denim, but something about these commercials irritates me. They are loud in just about every way possible. Loud announcer. Loud music. Loud colors. Loud, loud, loud! It’s like a clothing comic book strip.
However, these commercials keep coming. Old Navy keeps churning out the same style of commercial again and again. Something must be working. Old Navy wouldn’t hold onto a marketing strategy out of stubbornness.
I think there are a few things pastors and church creatives should learn from this.
1. Your organization should be recognizable.
- Chances are my talent in noticing Old Navy commercials isn’t unique to me. Old Navy has been doing their commercials in a similar fashion since I was in high school. And even though I’m not necessarily enthralled with how Old Navy has chosen to market themselves, every time I’m in their store it seems like everyone else in town is too. They must be doing something right.
- No matter what we are saying in our churches, we are saying something. It is essential for churches to be consistent in the messages we communicate, especially when intentionally branding ourselves. If there is something at the core of who you are as a church, let people know and then let them know again. How many leadership books do we need to read until repetition seems repetitive? Either way, repetition is key to getting people to recognize your church.
2. Your church isn’t for everyone.
- Like I said, I’m not super excited about Old Navy commercials, but someone is. Old Navy has a product that people want, they’ve chosen a way to communicate to a specific audience and they are relentless. Old Navy is a part of the Gap Inc. family, which also includes Banana Republic. Banana Republic and Old Navy are extremely different stores. Their products are different, their store environments are different and their marketing messages are different. Gap Inc. realizes there are different products for different people which need to be marketed in different ways.
- It’s OK to not reach everyone. If your church is reaching everyone in your community you either a) have a small community, b) have some seriously amazing and exhausted staff members, or c) Jesus physically attends your church and hands out his personal water-into-wine mix at the door. It’s OK not to reach everyone. Decide who your church is reaching and/or who you would like to reach and do whatever it takes to get to them. And please understand that marketing your church won’t look the same way the megachurch down the road markets. That’s fine, just be intentional with your messages.
3. If your content is good, people will overlook some things they don’t like.
- Like I said, I don’t like Old Navy commercials! But I still wear their clothes. It’s pretty good quality, readily available and cheaply priced. I’ll deal with their commercials because they have what I want and need.
- As churches, we carry the most important content around. No other message needs to be conveyed more than the message of Jesus and his redemptive work on the cross. Bottom line is, we have what people want and need. People will overlook things not working in our churches as long as we are truly creating an environment where they can connect to the Savior, Healer and Redeemer. (People will overlook some things, not everything. If your environment is unhealthy or doesn’t fit their lives, people will leave.) Make sure people recognize your church as a safe place where they can connect to God.
Figure out what you want to communicate, create a polished message and be relentless pursuing your target audience. Thanks Old Navy…