Archive - August, 2009

I’ve Discovered a Breakthrough Marketing Secret

marketingOn Saturday, August 1st, I posted a YouTube video about a unique wedding where the wedding party all came in dancing to a Chris Brown song entitled, “Forever.” I got to looking at it, and as I was, I started getting emails and twitters.  And even on yahoo, it’s one of the number one posts.  Everyone, it seemed, was discovering this unique, happy, feel-good video at about the same time.

As I watched the video and listened to the song, I had a breakthrough in my mind about how to market your stuff. It will cost you almost nothing.

Now let me stop and say, if you don’t have stuff worth marketing, this won’t work.  So you can stop reading.  If you have good stuff, compelling stuff, stuff that makes a difference; stuff that isn’t about you and your genius, but about people, helping them, and giving them hope, then this is for you.

Here’s the breakthrough I had; the aha moment. I don’t care for Chris Brown music, okay?  I said it.  I don’t own any Chris Brown music and I don’t listen to Chris Brown music.  And since the truth has come out about him lately, I don’t plan on owning any Chris Brown music.

I mean, I don’t like Chris Brown music.  You can market Chris Brown music, you can Twitter Chris Brown music, you can send a flier to my home, and you can even walk up to me on the street and say, “Here is a free Chris Brown CD.”  Out of politeness (and of course that’s important) I’d probably take it.  But I’d ditch it the first chance I got.  Did I say I don’t like Chris Brown music?

But all that changed when I watched this video.  My first response after I viewed the video was to find out who is this person and where can I get it?  I went to iTunes and immediately found the song entitled, “Forever,” but I had two major problems.  One, hey, it’s Chris Brown.  I don’t like Chris Brown and I don’t buy Chris Brown music.  Two, and more importantly, I don’t buy $1.29 downloads from iTunes on principle.  So what did I do?  I went to my trusty back-up, Amazon, who always has it for 99 cents, and guess what?  They are selling it for $1.29 as well.

So what did I do?  I went back, swallowed my pride, bought the song, and I’ve been wearing it out all week.  Here is the breakthrough: the way Chris Brown got to me is through handing his music off and letting me see what it can do to people, and what they can do with it.

There is the secret, ladies and gentlemen.  What does the stuff you create do to people?  Does it inspire them, move them, change them, cause them to rethink their position, get up, to move around, to dance?  Could your music convince an entire wedding party to risk looking really stupid?

What does your stuff not only do to people, but what can they do with it? This guy and gal created a forever moment with something created and handed to them by an artist.

So here’s the deal.  Whatever you’re creating.  Are you so inspired that whatever you’re creating does to people, will also inspire them to do something with it?  Will it lift, love, and create forever moments?

If you’ve got a book, got a song, get it in the hands of the people for which it is intended and see what they do with it. They might make a crazy video.  They may start a hash-tag twittering campaign.  They may put it on their Facebook and it may go viral.  All this by-passes Madison Avenue and all the big, expensive, graphic-intense web site programs.  Bottom line: content rules; always has, always will

Mega Church Envy

mega church 2Everyone, it seems to me, wants to be successful in his or her chosen field.  For me, what I do is a calling; not a job, not a profession, and not a career, although I hope I bring all the seriousness and commitment all of those categories denote.

The highest aspiration among American churches is to one day be a mega church.  I call it mega church envy.  We somehow believe down in our heart of hearts that we’re not truly successful unless we have a large church building, multiple staff, a great web site, and now the latest fad is a video venue where we can now spread the word to other communities.

Let me be the first to say that I’m not against any of those things. I’ve seen them all work remarkably effectively.  I’ve sat in video venues and laughed, and raised my hand, and connected with God.  So I am not anyone to pooh-pooh anything people are doing in order to reach people with the good news of the gospel.  But I am completely opposed to the idea that I am not a legitimate, fully-functioning, healthy, Christ-centered, God-approved church if I don’t have all or at least most of those things.

I saw last week where John Piper made the statement that we use video and drama because we’ve lost our confidence in the power of preaching.  And while I believe that statement is not true, as most absolute statements are, I do believe there is something we should hear.

Bad drama and mediocre video is a sign that we’ve lost confidence in the power of the gospel preached as God has ordained. Yes, I said it; ordained.  God hasn’t ordained videos.  He hasn’t ordained big screens.  He hasn’t ordained multi-site and a thousand other things we use.  But He has ordained preaching.  We know that.  It’s in the Scripture.  We’re told that over and over.  Preaching is primary in God’s Kingdom.  That’s what Jesus did, what Paul, Peter did.  That’s what the disciples did.  What we read in the Scriptures are sermons, preaching, and it still continues today.

What I do believe is important is that we use every tool available to us including preaching: video, drama, sitting around tables, candlelight.  I’m for it all if it helps move us closer to Christ, closer to God, and closer to the life He intended.  If those things are redemptive, if they bring about reconciliation, if they help us connect on a deeper level, I’m for them all – social networks, Twitter, Facebook, throw it all in.

Here is my problem.  You don’t need it all to be an authentic, loving, Christ-centered church.  You just need a heart for God, a heart for the gospel, and a heart for people. Take what’s in your hand and do the best you can with it.  It’s called innovation.  And God will give you more.

So let’s stop the mega church envy. Let’s look at those churches that are huge and recognize that they are blessed.  They have things to admire and things to avoid, just like medium-sized and small churches do.

Here is what I want to do: be faithful to the calling and to the place God has called me, to the people He has called me to love.  And at the end of the day, if I do that, whatever the fruit of that is, I’ll celebrate it and give God the glory.  So should you.

Are You Willing to Look Foolish?

clownWhy is it we’re so image-conscious and afraid of what other people think?

The truth is, before you’re really good at anything, you’re going to be really bad, and therefore you’re going to look bad.  Or, in other words, you’re going to look foolish.  And therein I think is the problem of a lot of really smart people.

You can be smart, gifted, and talented.  You can have native skills, ability beyond your peers.  But if you are unwilling to look foolish, you’ll never, ever reach your full potential.

We all look foolish when we attempt anything for the first time.  You looked foolish when you first tried to walk, by falling down.  You sounded foolish when you were first trying to talk and making baby sounds.  But somehow before we became an adult and so image conscious, we thought looking foolish was ok, particularly if it was leading us to a place of great advantage.

Maybe God has put in your heart to write a song or a book, to start a business or a movement; a church, a club, something.  If you get out of your comfort zone and do something that you’ve always dreamed of doing but have never done because you’re afraid of what other people will think, you’ll look foolish.  You’ll look like you don’t know what you’re doing.  And the truth of the matter is, no one knows what they are doing until they do it, until they do it over and over again and they fail and get back up and attempt to do it again.

The question is not, “Will you ever look foolish?”  Of course you will.  All of us will.  It’s unavoidable.  The question is, “What are you willing to look foolish over?”  Looking foolish because you’ve done something really stupid, or you’re involved in something really frivolous and it doesn’t matter or faddish and is passing away, is beneath you and a waste of your one and only life.

If there is something you want to do, need to do – ah, MUST do – then dare to look foolish and embrace it. Remember the opportunities of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity. And that requires that you jump in without having all the skills to succeed.  To learn to swim, you must start to swim.  You must go through the struggle until you get to the fluid motion of an accomplished swimmer.  You have to sometimes risk drowning in order to swim to the goal.