Marketing Like God
Written and Copyrighted by: John Squiric, Church Marketing Consultant and COO Truth Advertising
God's 4 -Step Marketing Process from Exodus 3
If you do a word search in the Bible for the words "marketing" or "advertising" it will yield no results. With all the divine wisdom held in those pages, why aren’t these words found? Is God saying, “Do not advertise”? Is He saying, “Do not market the church”?
Before we can write this whole idea off as a waste of church resources and claim that through divine intervention people will find their way into our churches, we need to take a closer look at what marketing is all about.
A few thousand years ago, God used a 4-step marketing process to get Moses to obey His will. From Madison Avenue marketing gurus to the simple neighborhood pizza parlor, businesses are still using this exact same 4-step process. While they may not be giving God the credit, the proof is in the scriptures, we just need to look for it.
Let’s take a quick look at the process, then look at the book of Exodus and find the similarities.
1. The first job of marketing is to CAPTURE ATTENTION:
In order to offer solutions, services, or products you must first gain the attention of your audience. If you don’t do this first step, the whole process fails.
A common misconception in our society is that “sex sells”. Sex sells nothing; it captures people’s attention. Have you ever wondered why you keep seeing commercials pushing the limits of censorship with risqué and often times even violent images? Unfortunately, it’s because our society has become desensitized to the point that advertisers and marketers must continue to increase the shock-value to get our attention.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m not condoning the use of violence or risqué images, but I do suggest thinking outside the box a little!
I once saw a church marketing piece that featured a graphic of a man’s large, muscular, tattooed arm (the tattoo was the church’s logo) coupled with a message that said “All of God’s people are welcome here ”. I was later told that it was one of the most successful campaigns they’ve run. They thought out of the box, untypical for “churchy” advertising. While this may not be the message or personality of your church, there is something unique about your church – share it through your advertising! Don’t be afraid to push the limits a bit ; it might just reach people on a whole new level!
2. The second job of marketing is to ENGAGE the AUDIENCE:
Engaging the audience just means keeping the attention of your listeners long enough to educate them on what a particular product or service has to offer. It is important that these steps are carried out in the correct order. Once you get the audience's attention, you need to keep it. The term “attention span” refers to how long you can keep someone engaged. While a great attention-getting image or headline may work at first, it still needs to engage (hold the attention).
3. The third job of marketing is to EDUCATE:
This is where advertisers tell you about all the benefits of their product and how it is guaranteed to make your life better. They establish “the need” and then meet the need with a solution! For example, you might not have thought you needed the product 60 seconds ago, but now that they have created a need and offered a solution, you discover you can’t live without it! If they weren't able to keep your attention, they wouldn’t have been able to establish a need and pitch the solution.
4. The fourth job of marketing is to create a CALL TO ACTION:
A “call to action” is when marketers create an action step such as “Buy Now” or “Call Today”. By this point they have you. If they have done their job correctly then they have captured your attention, engaged you long enough to educate you on their benefits, and created a need for their product. If you listened to all the great things their product will do for you then you are ready to bite. All it takes at this point is a call to action, a way for you to respond!
There really are only 4 reasons why people don’t buy a particular product or service.
1. No Need – Client perceives no benefit from your product or service.
2. No Money – Usually just an excuse, if people really want something, they find a way to afford it.
3. No Time – The amount of time invested to obtain the product/service is not worth the benefit of the product/service.
4. No Trust - They don’t believe it will do what it promises it will do.
Savvy marketing, advertising, and salespeople will intentionally address each one of these issues in order to “sell” the potential prospect. It’s important, as a church marketer, to always consider these issues in your campaigns. Specifically, keep in mind the issues of need, time, and trust (even money at times)! How can your church successfully address these issues?
Now that we understand what marketing is, let’s look at the Bible and see exactly how God used this 4-step process in order to get Moses to follow His will.
Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3)
God uses the first step in the marketing process: he captures Moses’s attention with the burning bush.
(Exodus 3:1-3) “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father -in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. (God captures his attention) So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’”
I don’t know about you, but a bush burning on the side of a mountain would be a huge attention-getter for me. Once God gets Moses’ attention, he then uses the second step in the marketing process: He engages Moses.
(Exodus 3:4) “When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’” (God Engages Moses) After God has his attention and has begun to engage Moses, He then uses the third step in the marketing process: He educates him on who He is.
(Exodus 3:-5-9) "'Do not come any closer, ' God said. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.' Then he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. The LORD said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.’” (God Educates Moses) Finally, God has educated Moses on who He is. He then uses the fourth step in the marketing process: He tells him what to do, or makes him an offer. God presents Moses with a call to action!
(Exodus 3:10) “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." (God tells Moses what to do – God creates a call to action.)
We can analyze story after story and see that God systematically used the principles of marketing to accomplish what He desired. If these principles are good enough for God to build his Kingdom, then why shouldn't they be good enough for today’s church to do the same ? How can the church apply these principles today in the form of marketing?
A Real Life Example
Using Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, as an example, we discover how to use the four steps effectively in a church marketing and advertising campaign:
Step #1: Capture the Audience’s Attention. Capture the Audience’s Attention. Use a strong headline and an attention-getting graphic to capture the audience’s attention. Example: “The Purpose Driven Life” title, coupled with a symbol of a tree (possibly inspired by the biblical tree of life or a symbol of growth), created an attention-getting cover. The title and graphic imply that there is something greater to achieve in life. Within the first glance, readers are attracted to an idea or message. While the graphic design alone is not the most attention-grabbing element, take note of the power of words combined with an intentional graphic undertone!
Step #2: Engage the Reader. The subhead of the title reads, “Discover Your Purpose in 40 Days.” Following the main title, which captures the reader’s attention, the subhead further holds their attention, engaging them with a promise: discovery of purpose in 40 days!
Step #3: Educate the Reader. Once the attention is secured, the subtitle serves a secondary purpose. It establishes a need —the discovery of one’s purpose! The title implies that we need to discover our purpose. Based on the title and subhead, readers have a basic knowledge of what’s inside ; they have been educated. Then the readers turn to the table of contents to become further educated on how this book can help them fulfill their need.
Step #4: Create a Call to Action! If you were to be preaching a series based on The Purpose Driven Life, you might use the following as a call to action: “I would like to invite you personally to join us this Sunday when we will help you discover your purpose and dramatically improve your life over the next 40 days.”
Don’t let the opportunity pass you by to call your audience to action! It may be an action- step of making a phone call to your office, visiting your church website, visiting the church, or attending an event. Just be sure that you don’t leave them stranded without an action-step! If they’ve paid attention to your efforts thus far, they want to take action – tell them how!
Marketing is a science and one that’s equally applicable for churches as it is to any product, service, or business. It doesn’t have to be a guessing game. When implemented correctly, these well -thought-out steps can effectively produce desired results.