A dilemma


Originally uploaded by jon.swanson.

In less than 36 hours, I’m talking to a group of non-profit minstry executive directors. I’ve already told them that I will be talking about word-of-mouth marketing, somehow. I said I would be about gossiping good and helping other people help them. And I want to include some social media perspectives (which I will summarize over the next couple days).


1. I’ve already talked with them about new media, have created a blog for them (which I haven’t kept up), included video (which was the only one I did), and generally have not done well with folding new media into their lives.

2. For most of them, email and a 1.0 website are still being in step with the times.

3. Many of them have constituencies/clients who are not living in a 2.0 world. Some of them are barely better than third world.

So what’s to say?

One direction is to forget what I told them and just talk about “Made to Stick”. This is a book that many people have read, but probably not many in my audience. (For anyone who has not read it, “Made to Stick” identifies 6 properties of ideas that have stickiness, that spread well from person to person.)

If I were to go this route, I would draw examples from each of their organizations to illustrate (thereby, of course, showing that I have stickiness). And talking to these leaders about simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotion, and stories would be very helpful to them.

But as I think about the other side, about the need to help them understand the conversational perspective which will be essential as they move into the next generations, I am stuck.

They need to think about authenticity, about journey, about process, about relationship, about community forming along digital lines. They need to respond to a mileau that cares less about their ideology than about their practical compassion. They need to build coalitions around projects, which then reform for the next and the next..

In short, do I talk about how they can talk…or about how they can listen.

That’s it, isn’t it? “Made to Stick” is about the flow out from the organization. WOMM, and, in the online world, conversational marketing, have more to do with relationship and shared values.

Okay, I’m back to the writing. But if in the middle of this you have any thoughts, I’m open.

If you had 30 minutes with 20 ministry leaders primarily involved in social renewal areas, whould you spend more time on helping them talk…or helping them connect? (I know, false dichotomy. Sorry. Now you know why I need help).


5 responses to “A dilemma

  1. Definitely would focus on the connect. My experience is that, until “connect” happens, any talking is less valuable. Your experience, too, I would imagine…I just reread your question. Are you helping these leaders talk and/or connect with each other–or with those whom they serve?

    Thanks for the summary of “Made to Stick” content–I had to return it to the library before I got a chance to read it!

  2. Sell benefits not features. I immediately said to myself, “this is a tool the community can turn to like an online, living, bulletin.”

    In the way old days of my childhood, my grandmother would BEG for us to take home a printed bulletin from church on the days when she was made to work and thus couldn’t attend. The bulletin was the closest to a community newsletter the church had. So to her, this was lifeblood stuff.

    Blogs and videoblogs can be that same resource point and then some, because it’s not just one hand writing a blog (or it doesn’t have to be).

    Sell benefits not features.

    With a blog, the congregation at large wlll have a platform to speak upon, as well as a focal point for learning about what matters in your community.

    Just my 41 cents.

  3. Here’s what I said:

    “Get people gossiping …about you.
    “Conversational marketing” is just the latest phrase to describe an approach to spreading the story of your organization and activities. Generating buzz, word of mouth marketing, social marketing—all of this sounds like what we have always tried to do: get people talking about us. However, particularly as we are working with people who are younger, who are increasingly talking about authenticity, who are connected in new ways, we need to understand how to get the conversations started. Ministry gossip Jon Swanson will help us get the rumours started.”

    You know, Amy, the idea was to help the talk and listen to others. But I think that helping them talk and listen to each other is a great example.

    And Chris, benefit. It is so easy to talk about the coolness of new media, but if there is no benefit, who cares?

    thanks for helping me think.

    Anyone else?

  4. Pingback: Even more dilemma-an exercise in digital conversation « Levite Chronicles

  5. How about the differences between buzz making and meaning making? Or the 9 themes people like to talk about and hear about? Aspirations, how-to, counterintutive, etc. Feel free to take from my blog or new book, “Beyond Buzz.” My nephew is a seminary student and sees parallels between the business examples and his work.
    Best regards, Lois