How to go beyond naming and get people to show up

by | Jan 16, 2020 | Strategy

One of the tasks you probably have on your list is naming something. Let’s say it’s a new class offered at your church. You think it should be creative and catchy, something clever.

The effort to find the right name occurs quite a bit with clients we work with, as well as in some of the Facebook groups the Firm Foundations team participates. It’s quite common to see leaders spend time and energy coming up with just a name.

Take a step back before you start brainstorming names. To be clear, it’s not that the process of naming things is the issue. Anything new will need the right name. It’s the amount of creative energy that seems to go into creating an apt name that doesn’t communicate what the name represents. And then people end up having to say what it is anyway. 

Consider what you really want and how you can get there.

What church leaders really want when naming new things.

Think about the “why” behind the naming efforts, and two reasons typically rise to the top: attention and desired action.

Leaders seek a name that breaks through the noise and clutter. A name that attracts attention and gets remembered. A lot is going on, both at the church and in people’s lives. How do you get their attention? How do you get them to remember? A unique name appears to be the appropriate solution.

Ultimately, leaders seek action. They want people to show up. They have visions of a room filled with people. Lives being transformed by what they heard.

However, a lot more needs to happen beyond coming up with a clever, catchy name.

What church leaders should focus on instead?

Clever names alone don’t work.

Consider the ministries at your church with a unique name – however, after someone says it, the name requires further explanation.

“You should come out for The Anchors class this week!”

 “What is that?”

 “It’s the men’s bible study group…”

Know of something at your church that’s like this? It’s not that the time spent naming it was wasted. You just need to look back to the two goals of attention and action. You can take steps to make both of those happen!

Important note: A marketing/communications strategy won’t fix everything. If you sense that something you’re promoting needs a critical eye to bring more value to your church and those who participate, that’s a different issue altogether and one for your ministry leaders to address. 

Attract attention by understanding your audience and how it will help them.

Bring attention and interest to what you are promoting by first considering the audience.

Who is this class intended to serve? Who is your best fit? Some may fall into the “anyone and everyone is welcome” category. You’ll be able to develop your communication strategy and message better when you have a specific audience in mind. Define your audience with shared demographics, life stage, or interests. This common thread is what will pull the group together.

Understanding your audience well also helps to craft messaging and graphics that address how this class will create positive change in their life. The results may be tangible, such as participating in a service project or completing a certification. Or it may be intangible, such as better parenting skills or a deeper understanding of scripture. Clearly and simply stating the benefit to your audience will help get their attention and start to create interest.

Ask yourself: “Who is my audience, and why should they care?”

Help them remember.

Getting someone’s attention one time is one thing. How do you get them to remember your message? Yes, this is the part where naming it well does come into play. However, you need to keep going down this path.

There are two ways to do this, and they both work together. 

First, have your audience see/hear the message repeatedly, a concept called “frequency.” You want the right amount to help people remember, but not so much that you frustrate or annoy. This frequency can be both planned and placed by you, be it during announcements, on posters, through social media, etc. Get your messaging right, and you get people helping you out by sharing it with others.

Second is “placement,” placing that message where it makes sense for your audience. Knowing your audience’s preferred forms of media can help you map out where your messages should go. Promoting a class to young adults is going to be very different from promoting one to seniors. One may prefer a text message, the other a direct mail piece.

Texting works well as an engagement tool and there are so many ways you can use it. Check out how Text In Church can help you guide people grow in their faith. By using our affiliate link, there’s the win-win of an additional 500 texts/year for life for you and a small percentage of the sale for the Firm Foundations team. Only the best are recommended.

Planning out your frequency and placement will help your audience to remember and grow their interest.

Help them take action.

Finally, you need people to do something. In this case, we’re talking about a class, so you need them to show up.

Be purposeful in your word choice. Make sure you’re clear about what you want your audience to do as a result of your message. Use clear, active voice language related to that desired action. If you can use the first-person tense, even better!

Consider the phrases, “Save my spot” compared to “Sign up here.” The first is personal. It gives a reason why someone should take action: to make sure that individual reading it has a spot for the class. The second is more generic and doesn’t remind your audience why they need to sign up.

How else can you get them to take that action and give you a sign of commitment? You can help move people along by providing the value of a reminder and any other pre-class information if they sign-up. This win-win situation allows you to get a headcount as well as send out follow-up information before the class. People, in return, get a reminder and extra value before it begins.

ProTip: For classes more “evergreen,” keep it top of mind by finding other ways to talk about how it’s benefiting people. A great way to do this is by sharing stories from people there in the group. Testimonials of lives changed, experiences had, and the like.

Start with naming. Then go onto this strategic framework.

What we have here now is the framework for successful promotion: 

Valuable message to your audience +
strategic placement/frequency +
help to take action =
Clear path to move forward and attend. 

Start with the name. And then keep going and stay focused on your audience and how this will help!

Still on the fence about developing a strategy? Check out how our MOST READ and SHARED article on how having a strategy in place helps churches like yours in the long run!