Kent Shaffer

5 comments | Posted: 3 January 07 in Interviews, by Yannick Lyn Fatt

Myself and Robert Evans recently interviewed Kent Shaffer, co-owner of Bombay Creative, a design and marketing firm that recently helped to redevelop Oaktreeidea. He is also the founder of Church Relevance, a blog through which he inspires and trains ministers to create relevant and effective ministries with design, marketing, leadership, and ministry techniques.

Yannick + Robert:

You do Graphic Design/Marketing at Bombay Creative, could you tell us how you got started in both and what is it about marketing that gets you excited?

Kent:

My wife (Evie) and I started out as freelance designers. We are both print designers, and Evie is also a web developer. As our clientèle grew, it became necessary to create Bombay Creative and hire additional design staff to meet our growing demand for web development.

Marketing, on the other hand, has always been a passion of mine. In the spring of 2005, we began casually offering our marketing services. We did some corporate and church work, but now, a year and a half later, I prefer to focus on church consulting covering marketing as well as many other aspects of ministry.

Robert:

As a designer, in what ways do you market your work?

Kent:

We don’t do much to market ourselves really. Our growth has always been sustained by word of mouth about the quality of our services. We have, however, created a free online training resource for ministers called Church Relevance that has helped increase awareness of Bombay Creative among churches.

Robert:

Do you feel Marketing the Church is an important aspect of getting the Gospel Message Out?

Kent:

Yes, I believe that marketing is an important aspect of spreading the gospel. Quite often people only think of the promotional aspect of marketing, and they forget or never have realized that “product” is also one of the 4 P’s in the marketing mix. And “product” has to do with the quality of what you do. So in this respect, everyone on staff helps market the church. The pastor may not design advertisements but the quality of his sermons affects whether people want to attend. A church janitor may not write advertising copy but the cleanliness of the bathrooms affects whether people will return. I call this effect the marketability of a church. No matter what role of ministry you are in, you can always improve upon your marketability. Of course, there are many other beneficial aspects of marketing the church, but marketability is without a doubt one that all churches can agree upon.

Robert:

Where do you see the Church lacking in terms of Marketing? Where is the Church succeeding?

Kent:

With such a variety of churches that exist today, it is difficult to pinpoint a common problem or lacking area in church marketing. Every church has its issues. However, a common success among all churches is their passion to reach people. Passion can easily make up for not having the perfect strategy.

Yannick:

You empower and train church leaders to enhance their ministries, how difficult would you say is it to successfully market and run a ministry? Also what tips or encouragement would you give to persons wanting to start an internet ministry?

Kent:

On a basic level, marketing and running a ministry is easy. Simply do your best to reach people, convert them, and disciple them. However, the difficult side of ministry is when you seek to improve your results. It takes learning and practice, both of which are never easy. If you want to be a better church marketer, preacher, or Sunday school teacher, you are going to have to learn something and then practice it until it becomes reflex.

As for anyone looking to start an Internet ministry, first pray and be sure that it is what God wants you to do. Second, think and rethink through your plan. Think about how users will actually use the site not how you ideally would like them to. Third, create it and launch it. Fourth, observe, experience, and evaluate it and then tweak it to better achieve its goals.

Yannick:

On the about page of the Bombay Creative website you speak about wanting to create relationships with your clients. What can we as Web designers/developers do to have a better relationship with our clients?

Kent:

The quality of a client relationship is built upon the quality of time you spend with them. A good start is going beyond what a client wants and giving them what they need with consideration to their preferences. At Bombay Creative, we like to begin most projects with a questionnaire that helps us to get to know the vision, the core values, and anything else that makes our client unique. By understanding our client’s branding and their goals, we can design a project that visually communicates their values as well as achieves the project’s intended purpose. Taking interest in who the client is builds trust and credibility that allows us to work as part of their organization rather than an outsider.

Yannick:

Can you please explain the thought process that led up to the creation of Oaktreeidea, and describe how it has been received in terms of user response and feedback?

Kent:

Oaktreeidea is the brainchild of a businessman from South Carolina named Brady Stump. In 1998, he lost a leg in a devastating car wreck. Realizing how precious life is, he purposed to make his life count and to encourage others to do the same. Seeing the Internet’s potential, he came up with the concept behind Oaktreeidea. Bombay Creative was hired this past summer to completely redevelop a previous attempt and get the site aligned with its original vision. So far the site is experiencing steady growth in membership and receiving fairly positive feedback. As the budget allows, we continue to enhance the user experience and also develop new features.

Yannick:

I noticed Oaktree Idea was developed using Cold Fusion as opposed to Ruby on Rails or PHP. Why did Bombay Creative decide to use Cold Fusion and have you heard much about what the future holds for Cold Fusion, especially after the acquisition by Adobe?

Kent:

ColdFusion was a good choice for several reasons:

  1. We only had a month and a half to completely develop the site before launch, and we estimated ColdFusion to take less development time than PHP.
  2. The previous attempt had been created with ColdFusion and the server was already set-up to support it.
  3. ColdFusion had the power and security features necessary for a site like Oaktreeidea. However, we did strongly consider PHP.

As for ColdFusion’s future, we don’t see it ever becoming as popular as PHP, but at the same time we don’t see it going away any time soon.

Yannick:

Would you mind sharing your testimony, and how you came to faith in Christ?

Kent:

I accepted Christ as my Savior at the young age of three. I spent a good part of my childhood on the mission field of Lima, Peru. For the most part, I have been involved in ministry ever since.

Yannick + Robert:

Well, I guess that about wraps things up, is there anything else you would like to add before we close?

Kent:

No.

Yannick + Robert:

Thank you for doing this interview. Peace and God bless.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Nathan Smith

    I appreciate Kent’s wholistic view towards marketing, that if any one aspect of a church is a huge turnoff, then it adversely affects people’s perception. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. That’s sort of the theme of the CS Lewis desktop wallpaper – here, that the church should be about quality.

     
  2. 2 Lance Fisher

    Great interview! Keep the posts coming. I really enjoy reading about how you mix good web design with spreading the gospel.

     
  3. 3 Cathy Shaffer

    Great interview! Before you assume I am biased because I happen to be Kent’s “mom”, it is a given that I am extremely proud of him but I am in awe at the aspect that our roles have partially reversed and quite often I am the student and he is the teacher. Just as our heavenly Father thrills at our accomplishments and service I take great pleasure in Kent’s accomplishments and heart to serve.

     
  4. 4 Robert

    Cathy: I have to say, that is pretty cool that you came on here to tell us how proud you are of your son. If the world had more people like your son, it would be a better place.

     
  5. 5 Meble

    LoL! You have fantastic site and very interest articles. Enjoyed browsing through the site. Keep up the good work. Thanks and Greetings

     

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