It's All About People

Bryan Haley

We talk a lot about marketing tools, and we give a lot of tips on how to be succesful in your communication. But at the end of the day, it's all about people.

Show Notes

Summary

It's easy for the average church to get lost in the tools and tactics. After all, there are so many things a church could do. Thankfully, it's not about posting a certain amount of times on Instagram a day that makes you successful. Instead, it's resonating with the person on the other side. We talk a lot about marketing tools, and we give a lot of tips on how to be succesful in your communication. But at the end of the day, it's all about people.

Today's guest

Tyler Harden
Ministry Reset

Transcript

Jeanette Yates:

We talk a lot about marketing. But what is marketing about, anyway? It's about people. The pandemic has changed the way people are spending their time. So, what can your church do to serve your community, while as they adjust to this new normal? Today, we're talking about marketing your church to serve people better.

Bryan Haley:

Hey, church communicator. Welcome to the Church Juice Podcast. I'm Bryan Haley, the producer of Church Juice, and I'm joined, as always, by my awesome co-host, Janette Yates. We're here, energizing church communications.

Jeanette Yates:

Yes. Yes, we are. And I am so excited to have Tyler Harden joining us, today. Not only is he the CEO of Firm Foundations Marketing, but he's also one of my favorite Twitter follows. And so-

Bryan Haley:

Good to know.

Jeanette Yates:

I'm glad to have him on today. Tyler, I know you really well. But of course, we're only tweeting at each other, so far. So now, we're actually getting to hang out and have a conversation. So glad you're here today.

Tyler Harden:

Sure. Well, thanks so much for having me. So again, I am Tyler Harden. I'm the CEO and co-founder of Firm Foundations Marketing. And I just absolutely love helping churches identify ways to connect with their communities. I mean, like you said, it's all about people, right? So, our team has spent years in the corporate world, helping businesses do what we're now helping churches do. So, I'm super pumped to be here today and get to share more about that.

Bryan Haley:

Awesome. So, how did you get started? Tell us a little bit about Firm Foundations. What makes you guys unique? You said you started with a business world, and now you're serving churches. So, what does that look like? What does that journey for you guys look like?

Tyler Harden:

Yeah, well, we started sort of suddenly, when God called us out of the corporate world, I think that's the nice way of putting it. The department was eliminated. And it was like, "Oh no, what now, God?" And it was really cool to kind of see the buildup of God, really just... My business partner and I, we both used to work together previously, in the corporate space. So, he had really been working behind the scenes to prepare us for what we're doing with churches, now. And we've seen that churches are really struggling to figure out how they can make the most impact in their communities, especially using their resources wisely, right? There's not endless piles of money for most churches. Problem is, a lot of churches need help identifying relevant and helpful information, to really understand the people in our communities.

Tyler Harden:

And that's especially true now, sort of coming out of the pandemic, where a lot of people have been disconnected for the past year or so.

Bryan Haley:

Yeah, no kidding.

Tyler Harden:

And doing that, it takes a lot of work and time and effort, on sort of an overburdened staff that had already has full schedules. So, our team kind of comes alongside the church to help take that burden off, and gather some research for you to help you identify sort of the relevant things for your church, that you can use to build custom strategies. That can impact everything from, "What's the messaging on your website?" To, "What are the sermon illustrations that might really hit home, because you better understand what's going on in the lives of your neighbors?"

Jeanette Yates:

So leading into that, we do talk a lot about strategy. We do talk a lot about the website, the social media, all those kinds of things. But at the heart of what you focus on, and your marketing and your teaching to these churches, is really emphasizing that marketing is about people. And you mentioned that just now, that what illustrations are going to speak to the people? So, can you dive a little bit more into that and talk about how you get a church to wrap their head around that? Or think about that, in maybe a different way than they're used to?

Tyler Harden:

Yeah. So, I would say it's easy for the average church to get lost in the tools and tactics, right? There's so many things a church could do, and it's not about posting a certain amount of times on Instagram a day, that makes you successful. It's resonating with the person on the other side. So, we kind of help backfill there, in that area. Because we found that while there's a lot of ways to get information, to understand the people, most people, church or not, are not data people. They're not research people, like, "Yeah, you can have this great research tool in front of me. I don't know what to do with it." Right?

Bryan Haley:

Right. Yeah, no kidding.

Tyler Harden:

So as marketers, and again, as people that did this in the corporate space, we help connect those two. The information that's out there with the messaging, and the ministries that you're putting out there. So, the American Marketing Association, for example, defines marketing as the process of identifying customer needs and determining how best to meet those needs. And when I read that, I'm like, "Man, that's ministry. That's what that is." There's not this huge chasm between the two that I think some people may feel. But again, there's so many options out there. We take data to find, "Okay, here's the biggest opportunity for your church. Here's the win." Or, "Here's the lifestyle that these people are living." So, you can understand why it's so hard to get them in the doors on Sunday. And sort of develop strategies to connect other days of the week, or what sort of tools that you can provide as a church, that can be meaningful. I mean, Jesus taught in parables for a reason, right? He was getting in the weeds and being relevant to the people, and speaking the same message in a way that would really click with his audience. And that's really what we help people do at the end of the day.

Bryan Haley:

Awesome. So, switching gears just a little bit for a minute. You mentioned earlier kind of post pandemic. So, thinking about post pandemic and marketing, what do you think marketing to people outside the church? Once we kind of get out of this tunnel that we're in, in the pandemic, once we're done with it. And people's needs have changed, people's... I've noticed that people have really embraced the simpler schedule, a lot of times. So, what are some ways that you think marketing is changing to people outside the church?

Tyler Harden:

Great marketing really is ministry. It's adding value to people. It's understanding them. And I really think the pandemic shake-up has made it more important than ever, to truly understand people deeply. Their pain points, their priorities, how they're going about their life. So, with many having left the church or been turned off by it for one reason or another. Throwing all of the crazy politicization of everything, I think we'll find our in, really, with connecting with those pain points. Having an intentional relational focus, right? People don't know they need Jesus. I mean, they definitely didn't before the pandemic, but that much more. They're not looking for church, they're not looking to church. In fact, they're probably trying to avoid it, so.

Bryan Haley:

Right.

Tyler Harden:

So, I think that what we're really going to start to see, is a shift into what the entry points are. People may not be Googling church in my city anymore. They're going to be dealing with their real life problems. Like, "Holy crap, I've got major anxiety." And we have to show them that Jesus is a solution to that, rather than be like, "Come to church," as a solution. They don't know they need it yet. So, we got to back down and meet people where they are. Because we're not just in a post pandemic world, we're in a post Christian world. And so, it's really going to be important to just delve into people's lives and meet them where they are, and have conversations and figure out how we can connect Jesus to that, right? So, it really helps to understand your audience in the first place, so that you know what you're kind of walking in.

Bryan Haley:

So, practically speaking, how do you suggest that a church goes and finds their audience? How do they find those felt needs that you're talking about? What does that look like?

Tyler Harden:

There's a lot of different options ranging from free to, you can pay someone to help you.

Bryan Haley:

Yeah, right.

Tyler Harden:

So, it's just super practically, have conversations with folks. I mean, especially in coming out of the pandemic again, "Are you talking to people? Or is your staff and your volunteers? Are you shooting a text saying, "Hey, how are you doing today?" It's crazy how much information can be unlocked by that simple question. Like, "How are you doing?" And if you really lean into it, if they don't give you that fake, "Fine. I'm good."

Bryan Haley:

"Fine. Good." Yeah.

Tyler Harden:

But some people will really open up, and you'll discover that, Man, there's these problems that people cover up when they show up on Sunday morning.

Bryan Haley:

Absolutely.

Tyler Harden:

And when you start to weave those seams together, that allows you to create new opportunities for ministry and people's lives. And help bring that back into the fold or bring them into the fold to begin with. Just talking to people is your easiest free option. But if you're trying to do this at a grander scale, I mean, that's where a service like us comes into play. Where we can help you pull the research for your whole community. And depending on the size of your church, the situation. Because, if you're a church plant, we do things a little different versus an established church. But you can find where the big opportunities are, to really develop your ministries. So, one of the examples I give, is okay. You know you want to go after this certain type of person, this persona. Well, where do they live in your community? Maybe you're hosting your events in the wrong place, because they don't live where the park is. Using that kind of information.

Jeanette Yates:

Or maybe you're hosting the wrong event.

Tyler Harden:

Well, that is absolutely, also true. But I think the automatic is like, "Well, that didn't work." And just kind of blame it on the thing, rather than, "Do we even know where these people are? Are we making it convenient to us, not convenient to them?" That's super high level. There's a lot you can do by having conversations. You can even Google some stuff and go to U.S. census, right? To get a really high level of the demographics of your general area. But if you're trying to get within a certain drive time of your church, or you want to know those felt needs, or we even delve into religious preferences and church hurt, and what they believe about God. That's not going to be on the census. It just depends on where you are, but there's definitely a bunch of different solutions that you can at least start with.

Bryan Haley:

That's really cool.

Jeanette Yates:

I mean, you've talked about so much about not only reaching your community, but also reconnecting with your members, or trying to get them re-engaged. Are you seeing that with your clients right now, with the churches that you're working with? That they're also kind of using some of these marketing techniques to re-reach their members?

Tyler Harden:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, what applies outside of the church, often will apply within the church. And that's some of what we do, too. Is when we're trying to help churches grow in their connection with the community, is find out where the synergy is, where the like-mindedness is, so to speak. So, that's why I said there's a difference between how we approach things with church plants, versus established churches. Because established churches, you have an existing culture, body of believers, and you don't want to try to force fit a bunch of stuff that doesn't make sense. So, you absolutely have to understand what's going on in the congregation. And so, a lot of things that the research, for example, can identify, is do they like to live lavish lifestyles? Or are they really busy on the weekends, because sports and all these different activities are going to the lake or whatever, it's really important to them? It's, you might keep screaming at them, "Come to church", but they're not going to come if these things are really important. And so, how do you maybe create a-

Jeanette Yates:

Or they're not going to come on Sunday.

Tyler Harden:

Or they're not going to come on Sunday.

Jeanette Yates:

Yeah.

Tyler Harden:

I mean, and that's an awesome point. It's we are very stuck on Sunday. Right, wrong or indifferent. But where are the other opportunities that we can create, to connect with those people? I mean, is it a Sunday night service? Is it a mid-week service? Is it a Saturday? Or whatever makes sense. That's definitely an option to explore. Or is it like, "Hey, we go a little bit more casual." I mean, we had... There's one church we were talking to the other day. And they were talking about doing a, "Pastor in the Park," is what they wanted to call it. I'm like, "Who came up with that name?" No offense.

Jeanette Yates:

The pastor.

Tyler Harden:

Hope they're not listening. Right, exactly. I was like, I don't even know what to expect from that, honestly. Are you going to go preach in the park? And so, we dug a little deeper. It's, no. It's people gathering in the park. And they happen to live in an area of the country where people are super sketched out about the whole coronavirus thing. So, even though they meet in person now, there's a lot of people that just still are not comfortable. So, they're trying to create outdoor opportunities and, why don't we just call it Picnic in a Park? It's not a super creative name, but it's a whole lot more clear than Pastor in the Park. It doesn't sound as intimidating.

Bryan Haley:

Yeah, right.

Tyler Harden:

And if the point is to reconnect your congregation, that's a great opportunity. Everybody's just hanging out, outside at the park and we talked about, "Make sure you have a tent and some branding out there." So as you do these, because they're supposed to do it several times over the course of the summer. You're creating awareness in your community, that we're not just a group of people that meets inside a building. And so, there's just tons of opportunity to really apply the knowledge in a lot of different ways. I mean, back to the parables, right? When you understand people, you can connect your stories that much better. And so, when you feel inspired to preach a certain sermon, "Well, what's the illustration you're going to use?"

Jeanette Yates:

Yes.

Tyler Harden:

That's really going to hit home. Or the pain point. Because I mean, I know when I... Craig Rochelle, and he's talking about anxiety or something like that. When he hits home on that pain point, it's like, "Man, the room just lit up." And so, when you understand those people, it's, you draw them in. And so then, they can hear the gospel. I mean, that's one of the things that we see some pushback sometimes like, "Oh, this is a corporate thing." Or, "You just need to preach the gospel." Well, if you're not speaking in relevant ways, it's going to be harder for people to hear it. If they've tuned you out because you offended them or they don't understand what you're saying, it's going to be a lot harder to accomplish that same goal. So, we kind of remove some of the friction, save some time and obviously resources. Because you're not just throwing stuff on the wall and hoping it sticks, too.

Bryan Haley:

Yeah, right.

Jeanette Yates:

Well, and you brought up a good point, too. And it's something that we try to on this podcast, that's geared towards church leaders. But we are talking a lot about church communications. But marketing in particular, we always want to circle back and say, "Listen. Yes, it is tempting to think about all the yuck of marketing." Even the used car salesman kind of thing.

Tyler Harden:

Yeah.

Jeanette Yates:

But really, at the heart of it and what we're trying to do with this podcast. And it sounds like what you try to do with Firm Foundations Marketing, is remind people that marketing is just a word that means, how are you getting your message out? How are you sharing your message? Which, is exactly what the message was being shared in the Bible. That's what we're reading, when we're reading all of that. And Jesus used stories. He used outdoor speaking. He used natural amphitheater, by speaking up towards the mountain. And and that was the amplifier of the time. We had letters being written and sent. And so, that was the marketing of the time. And we're just talking about using just, the gospel was being spread with the technology available at the time. We can use technology now, to do the same thing and connect with people and all of those things.

Tyler Harden:

Yeah.

Jeanette Yates:

And so, that's a good, I'm glad you mentioned that. Because we do want to always circle back to that. That isn't just about the latest and greatest thing that's out there, the new thing.

Tyler Harden:

But you always want to be able to use it affectively.

Jeanette Yates:

Right.

Tyler Harden:

And I think this is, we unlock some of the messaging and the methods by better understanding that people are on the other side of, whatever the devices, right?

Jeanette Yates:

Right. And social media isn't a strategy, website isn't a strategy. Those are tools to help you with your strategy, so.

Tyler Harden:

Yeah. And so much About marketing is really just understanding foundational elements, principles. Because once you get that, you can apply it in whatever context that you're in. So, obviously there's new social media that pops up constantly, so.

Jeanette Yates:

I can not keep up.

Tyler Harden:

Right. But if you've got that Firm Foundation, I'm just going to hammer home the name there.

Jeanette Yates:

Great.

Tyler Harden:

You'll know how to communicate a lot better, whatever that tool is. And stop asking questions like, "Why isn't this working?" Because, you'll know what you need to be doing.

Bryan Haley:

Right. That's good. So, what is one piece of advice that you'd like to give to someone listening today?

Tyler Harden:

Well, I know I mentioned it earlier, but I really think talking to people is one of the best things you can do. Those one-on-one conversations, getting outside of your bubble. I think is probably a tough one for a lot of church leaders, right? We have a tendency to have the same group of people that we're always listening to, and they're wise counsel and all that. But in order to have a better scope, try to expand that a little bit. And really delve into what's going on with people. Try to connect in meaningful ways, ask them questions. Take somebody out for coffee and just chat. And I feel like that's an undervalued opportunity to really understand what's going on in your area. But I also say, you can connect with your community by getting involved in your community.

Tyler Harden:

So, I've seen a lot of churches, especially over the past year or so, really be intentional about serving first responders, police, departments, nurses, those kinds of things. And they're on the literal front lines of a lot of things that are going on in your neighborhood. And so, through those relationships, not only are you serving them and uplifting them, you may also find out some things that you didn't know were really going on, or real problems that maybe the church can help solve.

Jeanette Yates:

Well, Tyler, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and your ideas and advice, to our listeners today. If someone wants to reach out to you with more questions or more help, what's the best way to contact you? I mentioned Twitter at the beginning and then I was like, "Wait, he is not my Twitter friend." I hang out with you on Facebook. And I do follow Firm Foundations Marketing on Instagram, which is also very good. But if somebody really wants to get in contact with you, how do they do it?

Tyler Harden:

I would say the best way... So, we have ministryreset.com set up, and that will push you right to the right page on our website. So head there, grab our ebook. We've got a Six Ways to Thrive ebook. It kind of talks through six different ideas that can help you evaluate different areas on how your church can better connect to the community. Plus, we'll probably be doing some special offers here soon. So, that'll get you on the email list. Make sure you don't miss out on those, but I would love to just chat. So, get on the email list and then let's just start talking. Because I'd love to figure out how we can help your church, identify the opportunities in your community, and how you can better connect and minister to those living around your church.

Bryan Haley:

That's great.

Tyler Harden:

So, ministryreset.com.

Bryan Haley:

Thank you again, for joining us today. I really appreciate the conversation. And I think it's a good reminder that no matter what we do, it's about people. So, I think that's awesome. And I appreciate the insight that you provided today. So, thank you again for coming on.

Tyler Harden:

Sure, no problem. Thank you so much for having me.

Bryan Haley:

Well, we love being able to talk with church communicators from across the globe. And we believe every church and every communicator's story is unique, and it's valuable. So, this week we'll be continuing today's discussion on our Church Juice's Insiders Facebook group. You can join the Insiders group, as well as get today's show notes and a discussion guide for leading your own team talk, by going to churchjuice.com/podcast.

Jeanette Yates:

Church Juices Podcast is a listener supported production of Reframe Ministries. A family of programs designed to help you see your whole life, reframed by God's gospel story. Church Juice is produced by Bryan Haley, with post-production by audio engineer, Nate Morris in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information about Church Juice, visit churchjuice.com. For more information on ReFrame Ministries and our family of programs, visit reframeministries.org.