Tag Archives: marketing

an interesting marketing opportunity. need advice.

I got a letter last week from  a couple account reps for a couple radio stations: “Especially when times are tough, the community could benefit from the positive message of faith that your organization delivers.”

I’m not big into radio advertising.  I’ve done it a couple times. I understand how it works. And how it doesn’t work.  (I have a degree in broadcasting, for goodness sakes.) I understand the need for sustained presence and the cost of that kind of presence.  I am particularly not in favor of using broadcast media covering large areas when you are a local church. It doesn’t seem to be the best use of limited resources. I feel a particular tension in using broadcast media when you are trying to build relationships.

But I was curious.

So when they called, as they indicated in the letter, I scheduled an appointment.

This morning I called to see if they could get done in 25 minutes so I could get to another appointment. When Brad called back he said, “sure.” I was impressed. They weren’t going to try to linger. They apparently believed that they had something that could be presented clearly and quickly.

They were early. I was on time.

I told them of my bias against broadcast and for narrowcast.

He said he understood.

What they presented was a website that will be promoted on the two stations and on their websites. This platform, called faithandfamilyguide.com, is designed to provide a landing place for the people in their audience who are at life and family transition points and are wondering about faith questions.

The site, limited to 10 churches, has articles about faith and family. It has links to landing pages for the 10 churches, with a common set of audio, video, and information resources, and links out to the sites of the churches. The site will carry advertising, will have its own contests, will have regularly updated calendar info. It will have an “ask the pastor” feature. It may accept content written through the churches (yes, I gave them links to this site and to 300wordsaday.com).

From what I can tell, their project is a good example of  content marketing. They are trying to gather resources and content-creators (the churches) and offer that content to their listeners. They will promo the site on air and will link to it from the two station websites. At the same time, they are qualifying leads and bringing them to the ten churches that sign up. No one has to go to the site, but they can if they are wondering about family or faith issues. And the stations hit a demographic that is full of family transitions.

We would pay a monthly fee. We would get the landing page and 24 spots a month on the stations.

Here’s where I need your help.

Does the concept make sense?

What questions should I ask them?

What should we be thinking about?

Does this approach take us to people who live around us that we would not talk to in other ways?


(Just so you know, I love the concept. I love watching the stations branch out from straight ads to a new idea that can have a measure of interactivity. I love the funnelling. But I could be dazzled because of my low initial expectations. That’s why I need your help.)


a case of word of mouth marketing

Andy Sernovitz is changing how I think.

I got an advance copy of the revised edition of  Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. (I got it free. I acknowledge that up front.)

Andy talks about talking, about getting people talking about your product, your company, your ministry, your brand, your blog. Much of what he says seems obvious, until you step back and say, “It makes sense, but why aren’t we doing that.” Andy helps you think about how to do it.

His definition of word of mouth marketing is simple:

Giving people a reason to talk about your stuff and making it easier for that conversation to take place.

People talk all the time. People talk about businesses, about people, about institutions, about problems. What Andy is suggesting is that we can help people want to talk about us.  For businesses, this is huge. It’s also huge for nonprofits, churches, and even individuals.

At the heart of his book  are the 5Ts of word-of-mouth marketing: talkers, topics, tools, taking part, and tracking. Let me explain them by using a completely self-serving example.

Young people in love: a word of mouth case study

Our son Andrew and I entered a blogging contest. You write a post. It goes up at thetalentbuzz.com. After two weeks, the post with the most unique visitors wins a $1000 gift card. If we win the gift card, Andrew gets $1000 for an engagement ring (really).

We wrote a post together, talking about some quality college seniors, the kind you would want to attract to your organization, who are moving away from the social networks that some of us are moving toward. (Here’s the post: How will you find them?) The argument is that “we” encourage companies to get on Facebook and Twitter, and at least some college kids are moving away from those platforms.

This is the perfect project for talking about word-of-mouth. The more people that we can get to visit our post, the more likely we are to win. The more people we get talking about the ideas in the post, the more everyone wins.

T#1: Talkers

You start by identifying your talkers. Andrew is working on his networks.  I’m coming to you.  What are his? He’s been involved at one discussion site for more than 7 years. He’s got credibility there. Who are mine? The people who have been learning about my family and my thinking for the past 3 years of blogging here.

Everyone, every organization, every congregation, every blog, every company has talkers, people who care. Sometimes there aren’t many, but usually there are some. Find them. Figure out who they are. Figure out what they are interested in. Customers, fans, grandparents, friends, colleagues, suppliers–depending on your setting, these are talkers.

My talkers include some of you. Some of you are interested in me. Some of you are interested in social media. Some of you are interested in church. This particular project will most connect with the “social media” and “me” talkers. I think.

T#2: Topics

The next thing you do is to give your talkers topics, something to talk about. I could, for example, talk about the contest (“Clink on this link and help us win”). I could, on the other hand, appeal to romance (“Click on this link and help Andrew win the card and buy his girlfriend an engagement ring”).

But how are those topics related to you, to my talkers? What is your interest in helping us win, whatever the romantic appeal?

If I understand Andy, some of you already talk about how I look at things. What I would need to do is give you something new about how I look at things.

I’ve been giving people information about Andrew for a long time. Last summer, for example, the readers of smallbizsurvival.com met him when I talked about his small business experience. (They are coming). I’ve spent the last year at gnmparents.com writing about what I’ve learned about parenting, starting with a several weeks series about Andrew. (This one talks about Andrew and Allie and soccer.)

Thus, you already know about Andrew. The new topic is “this kid I’ve heard about isn’t pursuing communication the same way his dad is, and this kid is part of the future.”

T#3: Tools

Once you have a topic, give your talkers tools to make it easy for them to talk about you. For example, if you are a not-for-profit, forget making business cards for yourself. Make them for your volunteers.

Following Andy’s advice, I’m going for simple.

1. I’m asking for your help.

2. I’ll be putting this in an email to some friends, making it easy to forward.

3. And I’ll figure out how to create a “tell-a-friend” link of some sort.

Ironically, I’ll also use Twitter. The point of our post is that Andrew’s friends are not using Twitter. However, a number of mine are.

T#4: Taking Part

Once a conversation starts, word-of-mouth marketing demands that you get involved. It’s a conversation, not a speech.  I’ve got to be active in any comments that are happening at thetalentbuzz.com, for example. This includes responding to criticisms that this campaign is all about buzz and not about substance.

I also need to keep writing about other things. I need to stay connected.

T#5: Tracking

Finally, keeping track of the conversation is important. Where are people talking about this project? Is it showing up in other blogs, tweets, or forums? I’ll come back to this in a few days.


So there you go. A post that reviews a book, tries to generate traffic for a blog post contest, teaches about a marketing concept, tries to start a generational conversation, and maintains some transparency. I’ll let you decide how I did. In the meantime, don’t forget to visit the post Andrew and I wrote (How will you find them).

A really large conversation

A year ago a group of people wrote a book together. A group of about 100. A book about conversation. A book called the Age of Conversation

This year, Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton decided to try again and invited people in marketing to participate. This year there will be 275 writers.  And this year the theme of the book is, “Why don’t they get it?”

We got to choose what we wanted to write about, from a set of sections. I was going to write about “Conversation into Action” but because I can’t handle computers very well, I selected “Manifestos”. As a result, I will soon be writing a manifesto about conversation particularly as it relates to marketing in a book that is for people in marketing.

On one hand, that is amusing to me. After all, I’m not a marketer. In fact, I spend a tremendous amount of energy making sure that I am not about marketing religion. That has happened way too much which is why so many people have such a struggle with any paragraph which has “church”. “authentic”. “caring” and “God”. I look for stories and metaphors and examples and people which might help redeem redemption.

Oh wait. That’s marketing, isn’t it.

Let’s talk marketing.

That’s a really odd thing for me to talk about, right? I mean, I don’t write a business blog. I don’t even write a marketing blog. I write, well, a slice of my mind and heart blog. What would I have to say about marketing?

That’s a question that you’ll have to ask Drew McClellen and Gavin Heaton. Because I volunteered, I’m going to be one of the authors, one of the many authors of Age of Conversation 2.0.

1. Follow the link to see you you could be an author.

2. Follow the link to vote on the precise vague topic of the book.  The three choices are

  • Marketing Manifesto
  • Why Don’t People Get It?
  • My Marketing Tragedy (and what I learned)

Why am I interested?

Because I am about telling stories to help people understand more clearly the Story that we are living in. Because Jesus spent a significant amount of time telling stories, and then was the subject of four books in a row. Because marketing is telling a story clearly enough and consistently enough and simply enough and complexly enough that people want to be part of that story.

Or at least that’s my story.

Sign up. Be an author. Define it your way.

(Be part of the story of Age of Conversation 2.0)