Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Marketing Your Message

Marketing.  What does that word bring to mind?

I’ll tell you that as a former teacher, marketing was somewhat a dirty word to me when it was connected to ministry instead of business.  I know that many of you are also confliced about this topic, because it was one of the most requested when we did our survey.

Very soon (I’m not giving any of my volunteers a deadline!), Tracie Miles is going to do a series on the blog about marketing.  If you heard her conference call last night, you got a taste of how great it’s going to be.

I just wanted to tell you 2 things that were said to me that helped me with the idea of marketing my messages.

I first asked Micca Campbell about it, because she was my mentor when I first came on the team.  She said to me (now hear this in her beautiful Tennesee twang), “Well Amy, the way I look at it is that I’ll knock on doors, but I trust God to open just the right ones.”  So wise.  I loved that Tracies sharedlast night about her return on her first mailing to churches.  It was an amazing response that she has never duplicated, so she knew that God was blessing her efforts.  The sequence for marketing in ministry seems to be:  pray for guidance, do the work, watch what God does and learn from it.

The second person who helped me see marketing in a different light was Carrie McGinty who worked with our team for a couple of years.  I was telling her about my struggle with marketing myself, and she asked, “Amy, do you believe that God has given you a message to share?”  After I replied in the affirmative, she said, “How does any body know?”

I know that sounds simple, but it really made the lightbulbs go on.  When I think about marketing myself, it makes me a little queasy, but I can definitely market the messages that I believe God has given me. 

So make sure that you continue to tune in for more information about marketing.



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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Making Your Messages Stick The End!

I have some very good news!  For this week only, all our resources at Proverbs 31 Ministries are 31% off.  That means that if you have been waiting to buy Made to Stick, Communicating for a Change or The Reason We Speakyou can get them for less this week. Woot!  Love a bargain.

I shared last week about stories and how we need to be on the sharp look out in our own lives for stories for our messages.  As my friend Karen Ehman says, there are 2 great reasons to have your own stories in your talk.  Your own messages will mean the most to you, and you will be able to tell them in a more compelling way.  The second reason is very important.  If it’s your own story, nobody else will tell it.  Karen tells about being at a conference where a speaker was puzzled about the cold response that her funny opening story got.  It turned out that the previous speaker had ended with that very story, so the audience was unimpressed with hearing it a second time.  Ooops!

Chip and Dan Heath give 3 basic stories that stick with people.  (It’s interesting to note that although this is a “secular” book, I think these guys are Christians. Many of their story examples come from the Bible.)

  1. The Challenge Plot–The example given of this type of story is David and Goliath.  It’s the story of the over-comer, the underdog or rags-to-riches. 
  2. The Connection Plot–This story is exemplified in the story of the Good Samaritan.  “It’s a story about people who develop a relationship that bridges a gap–racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, or otherwise,” say the Heath brothers.  My current favorite story that falls in this category is Same Kind of Different as Me.
  3. The Creativity Plot–In this type of story, a person uses special ingenuity or creativity to solve a long-standing problem.  The Heath brothers cite McGyver or the apple falling on Newton’s head as examples of a creativity story.

So be on the lookout for great stories!

This is the end of our “Making Your Messages Stick” series.  I’ve begun using the six principles laid out in Made to Stick as a kind of checklist for my messages.  Every message won’t contain all six, but it should contain quite a few in the list.  I’m typically an “in the box” kind of girl, but this checklist is jolting me out of the box.  I hope it will enliven your messages, too.  For continuing information on these topics, check out the Heath brother’s blog.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Making Your Messages Stick Part 6

It’s my favorite!  It’s my favorite!

I’m going to finish up our Made to Stick series with two posts on my very favorite principle from Dan and Chip Heath–STORIES!

I think one of the reasons I love speaking is that it’s an outlet for stories.  I love to hear stories, and I love to tell stories.  Reading stories in fiction is one way that I process the very non-fiction world around me.  It always has been.  Turns out that I’m not so weird.  The human brain loves stories.  

Stories are sticky!  (In the best possible way.)  Here’s what the Heath brothers say:

“The story’s power, then, is twofold:  it provides simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act).  Note that both benefits, simulation and inspiration, are geared to generating action.  In the last few chapters, we’ve seen that a credible idea makes people believe.  An emotional idea makes people care.  And in this chapter we’ll see that the right stories make people act.”

They give so many great examples in this chapter, but my favorite is how the “Jared campaign” got started for Subway.  Jared’s story is an amazing story and turned Subway’s whole business around, but it almost didn’t get told.  Why DID it get told?  Because someone was paying attention.

On one of the Next Step conference calls a couple of weeks ago, a woman asked a great question.  She asked, “What sources do you use for stories?  Where do you find the best stories?”  While this woman might have been looking for a book or website, it was still a very insightful question.

The best answer, though, is that the BEST stories come from your life.

I don’t know how you feel, but I’m challenged by that statement.  I don’t think my life is particularly entertaining or note-worthy, but I’m learning that it’s all about paying attention.  For example, I’ve noticed that some of the funniest people in my life (you know who you are–Carol, Jennifer, Aunt LeaAnna) always have hilarious things that happen to them.  How can that be?

I’ve finally decided that it’s not that they have some many more funny things that happen in their day.  They just pay attention, and they look at life through a perspective of humor.  If they followed me around, they might see some funny things in my life (almost guaranteed to see goofy things anyway!).

So let’s start looking.  Do you need a story about God at work?  Start looking for God at work (this one should be easy to spot).  Do you need a funny story about crazy people?  Start looking (we should have one of these within the next 12 hours).  Do you need a story about something profound a child says?  Go sit on a playground or your own living room and listen.

I’ll finish up next week with some specific categories of stories to watch for.  In the mean time, would you share a short story?



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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Making Your Messages Stick Part 5

(Made to Stick is now available through our resources at Proverbs 31 Ministries.  It may cost a little more to buy it through our ministry, but every dollar goes to reach more people for Jesus.  Please consider adding this neon orange book full of great stories and advice to your shelf.)

We’re getting to the end of our series, but don’t leave yet.  This week is important, and next week is the grand finale!!

This week, the Heath brothers give us the 5th key:  Emotional.  Here’s what they have to say about the importance of making our messages emotional:

“Belief counts for a lot, but belief isn’t enough.  For people to take action, they have to care….  it’s not about pushing people’s emotional buttons, like some kind of movie tearjerker.  Rather the goal of making massages “emotional” is to make people care.  Feelings inspire people to act.”

The Heath brothers give lots of good example, but I immediately thought about Hallmark commercials.  I’m a woman who cries easily, so those commercials completely do me in.  There were two of their commercials that changed my actions this year.  The first was for Mother’s Day and the second followed for Father’s Day.  In each commercial, it featured parents of adult children who had saved all their cards through the years. 

I’m a compulsive declutterer, but those commercials made me think about what’s worth saving.  They made me think about what I’d like to have to remind me of my children when I get older.  They compelled me to start saving items that show a progression of my children’s growth.

That same idea can be applied to our messages.  We need to evaluate each message with the question, “Will this message make my audience care so that they will want to embrace change?”

We can create emotion by appealing to self-interest.  We can also create emotion by appealing to the audience’s sense of greater good.  Speakers inspire change by presenting the benefits of change. 

If this gets your hackles up, it shouldn’t.  Our children’s pastor used to say over and over again to our kids, “God’s ways are always best.”  He didn’t say that they were always easiest or prettiest or least painful, but in a short, simple proverbs he told kids the truth.  It’s the same truth found in Psalm 103: 2-5, “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,  who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

As women with such a God, we should be able to easily pronounce His benefits in a way that makes people care!



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