Anytime I take the time to write an article for Church Planter Starter Kit, or anytime I work on a project with a Robby Fowler Design client, I want to have an impact. As a church planter, you are no different. Whether you’re busting out an email, working on your website, or designing something for your social media presence, you want something to happen. You want this particular piece of communication or marketing collateral to have an impact.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a simple formula to ensure your communication and marketing had maximum impact? Well, you’re in luck friend. That’s precisely what we’ll look at in today’s article.
First, let me give you the simple formula for impact. Then I’ll briefly explain it. Finally, I’ll show you how this is actually a gospel formula—not merely a marketing or communication tool.
The “Prepare for Impact” Formula
In order for your communication or marketing to have an impact, three things are involved.
Impact happens when your communication or marketing is seen, heard, and understood.
Now let’s take a brief look at how each of these three components works and why they’re necessary for impact.
The first step involves the visual component and locale of your communication or marketing. Here’s what I mean.
Visually, can it be seen? Is it attractive to my audience? Will it appeal to their sensibility and draw them in? If not, they’ll blow right past it and you’re dead in the water.
But it’s not only about the visual or design, being seen is also about location. When it comes to location, is it placed where my audience can easily find it? Is it placed where they are looking? Will they come across it at the appropriate time or place? If your communication or marketing is visually stunning but hiding under a rock, you can kiss impact goodbye.
Let me give two completely different examples of how being “seen” for impact is the crucial first step. Let’s consider how this plays out for your church website, and then on a radio spot or radio ad. Visually, is your website attractive? Is the design cheesy or confusing? Is the design appealing to the people we’re called to reach? Visually, does your radio spot create an appealing image or visual in the mind’s eye of your audience? Does it paint a picture and get their attention?
Now, how about the location for each example? Can people find your website online? Is your radio spot on the right stations at the right time for your audience?
In summary, for your communication or marketing to have an impact, you have to be seen first.
The second step to prepare for impact is to ensure you are heard. In other words, does the content and layout enable my audience to hear me? As you create the content for your marketing or communication, wheter big or small in scope, is it legible and easy to digest? Is the content style and length appropriate? And is it framed in a way the will pull my audience in to read it?
Let’s think back to our website and radio spot examples. For your website, do you have too much content (causing people to bail out)? Do you have the right content? Is the font size big enough so my visitors can easily read the content? For your radio spot, is the audio clear and loud enough? Is the message clear? Is the voice, music and narrator compelling, blah, or a turn off?
Bottomline, our communication or marketing must be seen and heard to have an impact.
As a church planter, you have or will have an experience akin to this…You wind up in a meeting space that acoustically speaking, is less than ideal for a gathering. It’s a big, boomy, echo chamber…but hey, it was free or cheap. There you are taking in your new meeting space and planning your pulpit position when someone pops their head in the back door and says something to you. You look up because you heard them…but you have no idea what he or she said. The fancy acoustical word is ‘intelligibility’—the ability to hear and understand what someone says. In this case, you heard someone, but the boomy echo prevented you from understanding the message. The same is true for achieving impact.
Being understood relates to the organization, movement, and effectiveness of your content. Is the content well-organized? Is it moving? Does it have a compelling plot line (problem > resolution)? Is it focused, clear and relatable to my audience?
Again, here’s how this works in our two examples. Is my website organized to answer the questions of my audience? Can they easily find what they’re looking for? Do we effectively address their questions, hesitations, misunderstandings, fears, etc.? For your radio spot, does it raise an issue facing my audience? Does it then address the question, hesitation, misunderstanding, or fear I just raised?
In conclusion, your communication or marketing must be attractive and easy to find, it must be clear and easy to understand, and it must address the questions and needs of your audience in a compelling manner. This is how you prepare for impact.
Don’t Gloss Over The Impact
One fatal mistake at this point is to assume impact—to assume your audience will know what you want for them or from them. It is true: when your communication or marketing is seen, heard, and understood, you can effect change. But you need a clear impact in mind, a goal. Then ask yourself, “Is the desired impact clear? Is there a call to action of some sort? Is the next step or the response clear and doable for the audience?”
As it relates to our examples, does the website have a clear call to action or next step for your visitors? Or does the radio spot offer a clear next step easy enough for your audience to remember and then act upon when they have a free moment?
So before you charge ahead on your next piece of communication or marketing initiative, consider what impact you want to effect and work backward from there. Put yourself in the best position to be seen, heard, and understood and make sure all three ingredients are present and working together.
The “Prepare for Impact” Formula as a Gospel Formula
Being seen, heard, and understood as the key for impact is nothing new. The same formula directly corresponds to the Incarnation and the gospel. The incarnation is the epitome of God being seen, heard and understood with a clear impact in mind.
- Seen: God became flesh and dwelt among us. Emmanuel.
- Heard: Jesus went out on the water so large crowds could hear. And he frequently announced, “Let him who has ears to hear, hear.”
- Understood: Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount pattern is, “You have heard it said…but I say to you…”. And after numerous miracles in the early stages of his ministry, Jesus would tell the person, “Don’t share this yet because people are not yet ready to understand my identity and mission.”
- Impact: This is the heart of the gospel. It’s not merely information, but transformation offered by a person—Jesus. The gospel says, “Be doers, not just hearers.” And Jesus’ famous commission includes the distinction, “…teach them to obey all that I have commanded…” (I.E. not just understand what I commanded).
You are on safe, ancient, proven ground when you aim to be seen, heard, and understood in order to impact and affect others for change in the name of Jesus. Ultimately, he is in charge of change. But he’s given us a great formula to follow as we depend on him for the results.