By Lorraine Walker
The Southern Gospel world is drastically different from the environment of the early pioneers of quartet singing. The internet, mp3â€™s and everything digital have created a overwhelmingly short attention span nationwide. The increase in artists in the gospel genre, decrease in venues and ticket prices, and the intense competition for the listening ear have many singers wondering if they should give up their dream career. This last segment in Marketing Southern Gospel provides more helpful advice to help those looking to increase their impact on the industry and the world.
â€œMany artists attempt to do their own marketing as they attempt to be good stewards of their income,â€ says Rob Patz, owner of Coastal Media, SGM Radio and SGN Scoops. â€œThis can turn out to be the wrong place to cut corners. Hiring a professional marketing person can help the organization understand where their core market is and how to reach that market effectively.â€
â€œIf you are building a house and you donâ€™t hire a contractor because you want to save money, that house wonâ€™t stand for long,â€ says Patz. â€œYou will wish you had invested in a professional. Itâ€™s the same with marketing. The professional marketer will provide you with an outside voice not connected to the organization, who can say things that an outsider can get away with. Sometimes those who are too close to you wonâ€™t tell you what you need to hear, or canâ€™t see what the challenges and solutions are.â€
One of the keys to successfully marketing your ministry is understanding the basic goals of your organization and crafting a well-defined mission statement. Once everyone involved is clear regarding who you and where you want to go, it is easier to define your audience niche. This is done through prayer, study and a realistic inventory of skills and desires.
Discovering the message and understanding the recipient of the message was discussed in the previous segment of this series. A professional marketer can assist with the mission statement and helping the artist define their audience niche. The knowledge can be useful when deciding whether to explore areas such as Facebook, Twitter, or even mobile marketing.
When considering areas in which to spread the message of your ministry, become knowledgeable regarding where to spend your money. What may be a good investment for some, may become a money-waster for others. Invest in a good website but ensure that it reaches your audience and it is simple to access. Pouring time and money into features that keep your audience from returning is not profitable. For instance, you may want to reconsider the automatic video/audio player that causes your site to upload slowly and your recipientâ€™s system to possibly crash. Your audience may not want to wait the extra two minutes to see what you have to show them, and they may not return.
Branding is important in your on-line presence as in everything connected with your ministry. Presenting a clear, consistent message in person, in print and onstage is vital to impacting your audience. Consider that when setting up a Facebook page or even your Twitter name. Professionalism is key, even if your presentation is comfortable, relaxed or down-home. You can be approachable, accessible and an ordinary Joe without being rude, sloppy or careless. The little things count, even the use of spell-check for the mass email list.
Dusty Wells, Marketing Director of Word Entertainment, says that he is really working with email lists and developing them more. The key is concise communication of your message.
Outside of the internet, many are going back to grass-roots marketing and one-on-one relationship building to spread the message of their ministry. â€œWe are working closely with youth pastors, choir directors and pastors, offering them advice, care packages about the groups, andÂ Bible studies for certain songs, etc.,â€ says Wells. â€œWe build publicity through working with local newspapers and email sites about appearances. We even have artists call local Christian bookstores when they are in the area and invite staff to the concert, or offer to do a devotion the day of the concert for their staff.â€
This type of layering of publicity can increase your audience and the potential of reaching people with the love of Jesus through your ministry. If you are on the news, post it on social media sites. When you are in concert, let your audience know how to find you on the web. Whether you are in person or online, tell people what your ministry is about, be specific and use real-life examples or comments from your audience. Donâ€™t be hesitant about telling others what Jesus is doing through your ministry.
Finally, ensure that the Southern Gospel Ministry is your calling and the appropriate use of your God-given skills and talents. Consult with your pastor or other accountability partners who will be honest and open with you about your calling. It is possible that your talents can be used more effectively in other directions, for an even greater purpose.
Mark Trammell has seen a lot of artists come and go during his years in the Southern Gospel Music industry. He sees the number of singers today trying to survive in an industry seemingly stretched to the limit with artists, and wonders if each artist on the road today is really working within the calling that God has for them. Mark says, â€œIf we could convince the ones not called to this, to stay at home and stop diluting the waters for those who are called, the rest would take care of itself.â€ Donâ€™t settle for something good when God is really prompting you to strive for the best purpose for your life.
In this world of 144-character messages, it is important that the most important message of all be heard by everyone. It could be that those in your own city have never heard the message of the Gospel of Christ. Whether you are online or in person, be sure to be consistent and real with your message, your delivery and all your activities. We are all called to display the love of Jesus with the talents He has given to us. Let us be wise stewards with everything He has provided.
We hope that this series has provided some useful tools for artists and industry professionals to successfully market their ministries in this time of recession. We would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their assistance:
Kevin Ward and Mickey Gamble, EmPower Your Ministry www.EmPowerYourMinistry.com
Mark Trammell, Mark Trammell Ministries, www.marktrammellministries.com<
Dusty Wells, Marketing Director, Word Entertainment. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Patz, Coastal Media Group, www.sgmradio.com
Born and raised in southern Ontario, Canada, Lorraine Walker has been interested and involved in Southern Gospel Music since the mid-80â€™s. As part of a ladiesâ€™ trio, she became more familiar with this style of music and the people that made it popular, and began writing occasional articles for a Canadian publication on Southern Gospel.
Known online to her internet friends as â€œCanChikâ€, Lorraine began writing a monthly inspirational article entitled â€œCanChikâ€™s Cornerâ€ for www.johnlanier.com in 2002.Â This column began on www.sgmradio.com in January of 2005, a popular southern gospel music radio and information website which also publishes other features and interviews with her byline.
â€Reality Checkâ€ is a monthly column relating the realities of living every day as child of God. Lorraine welcomes your comments and suggestions, and you can write her at email@example.com