Best Practices From the Field

MARKETING YOUR EXPERTISE – Geof Park, July 2018


By: Geof Park
Planned Giving Director for the Southern California Conference

You may be filled with ideas, good intentions, important information, and valuable services, but if no one knows you exist you may spend a lot of time looking at the walls. It is at this moment we discover the need for marketing.

Marketing comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes; it may look different for each application and isn’t limited to what has worked in the past.

WHERE DO YOU START?

The best place to start marketing your department is to analyze what your department has to offer. Then, list all your opportunities to talk to people (face time). Talking face to face with someone about what you offer is the most valuable form of marketing. Many of the tried and true methods of reaching out include: speaking at churches during or after Sabbath worship, planned giving presentations at camp meeting, and seminars held in churches or neutral locations. It is well known that we can choose the location and time of our presentations, but it takes more than that to get people to come. This is the time to apply a little marketing.

WHAT CHALLENGES DO WE FACE?

The next list to compile is a list of the challenges you face in achieving your goals.  Perhaps your list will include; understaffing, the distance between churches, no camp meetings, or any number of possible complications.

Every Conference has challenges, some may be common and others unique. With challenges come opportunities. So, as you analyze your challenges, begin to visualize ways to meet the challenges. Again, a list may help.

AN EXAMPLE THAT MAY ENCOURAGE YOU.

Southern California Conference shares much with other conferences. We have employed most of the marketing techniques that others use. One of the advantages is the small territory we have to cover. The disadvantage is we don’t have a yearly Camp meeting. We have very few conference called meetings where we can share our wares. We also have over 38,000 members and the departmental staff is two, with no secretary. In studies we have found that when we go to speak in a church we will most likely only speak to half of the membership perhaps even less. Not all the churches have an interest in allowing us to speak or make a presentation.

Obviously our challenge was how can we get our message to our constituency?  More staff was out. Calling Conference wide meetings wouldn’t fly. So it came down to finding some way to communicate with as many of the constituents as possible. We came to the conclusion that a Newsletter was needed. But not just any newsletter would do.

MAKE IT EFFECTIVE

Our constituents are quite sophisticated and live very busy lives so not just any newsletter would be successful. The publication would need to be attractive, interesting and not wordy. Each newsletter would be designed to be a feeder for a Seminar. The content of the newsletter follows the information that our presenter plans to share in the seminar. The back-page features advertising (invitation) to two future Seminars. Each Seminar is started with a Buffet Brunch.  The presentations are made by professionals and aim at legal and retirement issues. One of our greatest draws is our “Ask an Attorney” question and answer time in each Seminar. There are always invitations to respond and an email address and directions to our web site in each newsletter. We send to 22,000 homes. The mailing list is supplied and updated by our conference clerk.

To see an example of our Golden Crown Newsletter click here.

WHAT HAS BEEN OUR RESPONSE?

Our Seminars usually attract between fifteen and thirty people. Interest is always high, with many asking for help with creating documents. The seminars are proving to be a valuable resource for new clients.

We are also considering taking the seminars mobile and look forward to letting you know what the response is when the time comes. We haven’t even mentioned the possibilities one could have if we explored the use of Social Media.

So I have come to the conclusion that even though we all face different challenges, we all need marketing.