In the movie “Elf,” Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a Santa’s Helper now landed in Manhattan after a sheltered North Pole existence.
One day, Buddy spots a sign at a downscale NYC café claiming to be the home of the WORLD’S BEST CUP OF COFFEE.
“You did it!” he tells the startled restaurant workers. “Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It’s great to be here.”
[I’ll drop in the video link here, because it’s so fantastic and you need to see it to make your day 41% better. You’re welcome. – DF]
Ferrell returns later to the café to share his discovery with his love interest, played by Millennial-generation (born 1980) actress Zooey Deschanel.
She tastes the coffee, gives Ferrell a look, and tells him it tastes like a “crappy cup of coffee.”
The thing is, most of your customers–and certainly most of your Millennial-generation (Gen-Y) customers–aren’t Will Ferrell. Unlike Will’s Buddy-The-Elf character, your customers didn’t grow up at the North Pole. They grew up, instead, being bombarded by advertising claims since they were in utero. And your customers not only don’t believe bold advertising claims, they’re suspicious of companies that make them.
I get it. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, chances are you’re not in the advertising or corporate world. You’re in the church world. And the church world hath nothing to do with advertising claims. Marketing is icky, out of place, and we just shouldn’t do it.
Except that we do.
Every time you take the stage to make an announcement, you’re marketing. Every time you send out a newsletter or an email blast, you’re trying to get people to jump on a bandwagon. If you send a tweet or make a call or send a text under the banner of your ministry, you are drumming up support for your ministry.
We all advertise our ministries in one way or another. Now, to be clear, we always must make sure that the marketing never trumps the message (that’s another blog post for another day). But today, here’s the question:
We’ve all been promised AN EVENT THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. We’ve read the copy on A WEEK YOU’LL NEVER FORGET. We’ve even succumbed to the standard sell that WE’LL FOLLOW UP WITH YOU IMMEDIATELY. And while the event was good, it wasn’t life-changing good. The week was probably okay, but you’ve forgotten how many weeks you were never supposed to forget. And that card you filled out? No one ever followed up. (Big shocker there.)
If you live in the world of church or ministry, the old adage is still a good adage: under promise and over deliver. Don’t get hyperbolic with your bold font and jazzy graphics. Don’t make promises that a volunteer can’t keep. Don’t squander your credibility on a substandard event.
Tell people what you’re doing. Entice them to come. But let the quality of the event or the impact of the follow up speak for itself. Delivering consistency over time is the most effective kind of marketing.