There’s a church on 70-East here in my town. It’s been there forever. I don’t know what denomination it is. It’s a church. The parking lot is full on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Other than that, I don’t notice it much.
That is, until last week.
Last week, something happened that I suspect the various committees at that church have been talking about for months, maybe years.
Someone had to first propose it. Then others had to nod along and agree it was a great idea. Then money had to be raised for this great idea.
And now the whole congregation gets to pat itself on the back. They’ve come up with an answer to what I presume has been their #1 problem. It’s a problem that churches, businesses, non-profits and freelancers face continually: Finding an audience. Bringing in new customers, clients and congregation. How to grow.
So, here’s what this particular church came up with…
Underneath the sign that has, for years, been the church’s signage on 70-East, there is now a second sign. The second sign is a big lit-up neon flashing-lights sign that glows all day and night. On it are various messages and slogans, promoting (in no particular order) Jesus, upcoming events, this week’s sermon, God, gospels, the church itself, and Christian behaviors in general. Apparently, no consideration was given to the neighborhoods that are behind the church or across the street. Those folks will now doubtless be heading to Lowe’s for thicker shades for their windows.
As a business coach, I try to imagine how this played out. If it’s like the typical conversation of typical business owners, it went like this:
“We need more people! We need to ‘get our name out there!’” (Note: Everyone wants to “get their name out there” – including artists, writers, consultants, speakers and yes, even a non-profit for whom I just did pro-bono marketing and copywriting work.)
And rather than do any kind of research or creative communication, the only solution anyone can come up with is this:
In this case, it went something like this: “Let’s put up a sign. But not the usual sign. A big lit up stays-bright-all-night sign. That’ll get people’s attention!”
The main problem with this idea – like so many of the ideas people come up with to “get their name out there” – is that the only thing it required from its creators was to get money. Outside of that, it took no creativity. It took no reflection. It took no contemplation into the hearts and souls of the people they serve. No thought about what that person wants and why they chose this particular church.
It has nothing to do with service. It simply took cash.
It reminds me of every musician, band or songwriter who’d pay a lot of money for a magazine ad that never did anything for them. Their name was out there. But no one cared.
In the end, it’s just another big fat boring gimmick.
We think people will flock to us once they notice us, once they understand us. But it works the opposite.
People will flock to you when they feel understood.
But we don’t like hearing that, mostly because it takes creative work and digging deep…which is uncomfortable sometimes. I propose that this church is doing exactly the opposite of what Jesus himself did. (I wasn’t there of course, but not once have I ever seen Jesus being quoted as saying, ”I just need to get my name out there.”)
I’ve started 2 different businesses from the ground up. The first was a successful career as an indie musician with my own record label. The second has been a coaching company called Uplevel. Here’s what has worked for me in both businesses. It has also worked for thousands of my clients who have done the exact same thing. It takes almost no money. But it does take clarity. Here are the steps:
1 – Know yourself and what you do best. Know who you are, know your message, and know what makes you different. If you don’t know these things, then it’s time to have a come-to-Jesus meeting (pun intended) and figure them out. You can’t do/say “everything.”
2 – Ask your peeps (be they congregation or customer) how they are doing and how you are doing. Take a survey to see what they say. Get them to share in their own words their problems, their dreams – and what they love or don’t love about you and what you do.
3 – Review the demographics. Who are your peeps? Are you aiming for something different? Or could you keep growing while serving that person?
4 – Get super clear about the stuff your peeps want. Make a list of their top 5 on each of the following: challenges, doubts, mistakes, desires and needs. What do they want from you? Why are they even with you at all? Do their dreams get served by what you do? Are you elevating them enough?
5 – Ask: How can you better serve your existing customers? We just opened up the doors on a brand new mastermind here at Uplevel called MClub. We took the best of the best of our existing masterminds (using feedback and data), including the trainings and high level of coaching – and we made it even better. We’ve had record registrations – including record levels of excitement from existing clients who want to get the new goodies. Did it take extra work? Yes. But that keeps the energy alive and relevant at Uplevel.
So, what kinds of programs and extras do you offer? What else can you do that could get people genuinely excited so they want to talk about you? What kind of “tell a friend” high value experiences could you offer? This is what it TRULY means to “get your name out there.” Make people want to talk about you.
6 – How can you create consistent, value-added communication? This swings back to #1 – where you understand what your message is. Now you need to find ways to add value to people’s lives and put that value out there in the word. Even if it’s a simple Friday video to your list with some tip or tool they can use to make their weekend better…send out something that people want to share. And do not falter in sending this out regularly. Consistency builds trust.
My way is admittedly harder than the dopamine-hit of just buying a sign, lighting that baby up and pumping out the blinding rays. But my way works. A big lit up sign just makes people squint.