First off, let me say that I love the Church and I love non-profits. It is these people who often learn to live with their whole being. I have been involved in one or the other for more than 25 years. I have also done marketing and design for more than 7 years. In this time, I have found a series of areas that non-profits need to improve on when it comes to marketing and design.
Here are 5 church and non-profit marketing mistakes:
Hiring an Inexperienced Friend or Family Member
“Well, Jim works on the computer” or “my niece could do something like that” is usually what we hear. If your cousin designed your website, it will probably look like your cousin designed it. You are an expert (or becoming one) in your field, hire someone who is an expert in theirs. If your heart really is to spread awareness and create change, then hire the people who will launch you into that. You do not have to be the expert at everything. Use their talents. Ask about pricing plans if that could help you. It is worth your investment.
The same is true for photos. Photos will make or ruin a design. If you want to use photos of your own nonprofit, pay a little bit more for someone to come take some photos of events. Look for photos that tell stories rather than the ones that are flat and show information. People want to be drawn into a story not presented with information.
Not Trusting the Designer
Some clients will hire someone else then dictate their every move, mouse click, color, etc. This is like buying a paint sprayer to paint your house, then manually painting it with a 2inch brush. Remember, they are an expert in their field. They spend 40+ hrs a week building websites, doing layouts, and researching trends. Their life is absorbed at how to take a message and convey it to an audience of your choosing. If they say the design is outdated, it probably is. However, feel free to say “Hmm. I’m not sure I like that, is there another option?” Work with them to get to the design you love but the quality your market deserves.
You are a passionate person who has caught a vision of the good that you will see in the world. Otherwise, you would be doing something that pays much more. You have invested your life, your family, and your personhood to this idea and that is important. The issue is that you will probably want to verbally vomit all of the information on people right away to make sure they get the point. You could end up bulldozing the design, overwhelming the communication channel in an attempt to convey your message, but instead it will end up turning people off.
You don’t meet someone, scream “I love you”, unload your life story, then propose to them in the first 15 minutes. Do not try to do this with your message either. There needs to be a introductory period where your point is made, then trust is built, then a romancing period where you draw someone in. Only after that, should you ask them to respond or invest. Do not try to throw it all out there at once. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the world probably won’t be changed in one design either.
Not Being Clear About What You Want
When thinking about non-profit website design, find specific examples of what you like or don’t like. Use descriptive words of what you are looking for or feel like is missing. If it is hard, that’s okay. Take your time. Avoid saying, “I don’t know. I think it just needs more…’pop’” or “I know what I want when I see it.” Like counseling someone, building a team, searching for investors, using descriptive words for what you are wanting or looking for will help tremendously.
So how do you do that? Find other non-profit or church website design examples and bring those to your designer. Pinterest.com and Google image search will be your friends. Try keywords like “Layout Design” “Web Design” and adding in your industry to specify your search. Save the files you like and share them with your designer, telling them why you liked these. (Remember that the things you see could be anywhere from $100 - $75,000 sites as you show them to your designer.)
Not Staying On Brand
There is a lot to say on this topic, but if I had to limit it to one thing would be that once you find your branding, stay with it. Most people underestimate how long the process can be, so by the time they get to the end of it - they are sick of seeing their branding so much that they are over it. Welcome to the creative process. Remember that just because you have seen it multiple times a day for the past few months doesn’t mean others have.
Once you have that look, feel, and tone down, then you want to keep it and use it for everything. I guarantee you will be tempted to want to change it, and probably add variety in within a few weeks of announcing it to the outside world, but don’t do it. You have worked hard to establish the look and feel of your brand, keep it and use it well.
Wrapping up, you are doing great at your endeavour to make the world a better place and bring more justice and goodness in. Do not feel like you have to do it all on your own. Hire some people who can bring their expertise. Use descriptive words and examples to help them craft your message in a way that you romance your audience until they burn just as brightly and are as committed as you. Remember, team work makes the dream work!