Monday, February 18, 2008

Church Marketing Sucks.

Ooh. Edgy. Offensive. Angry. Funny. So totally true. So what?

The sacred sub-sector of the non-profit world has its work cut out for it. Consider:
  • the ripped-off red and white swirl logo that read “Things go better with Jesus,”
  • the hulking Jesus doing push ups with the cross (and the weight of the world) on his back in the name of “God’s Gym,”
  • the big F-150 pick-up truck grill with the caption, "Built Lord Tough."

Christian marketing is all over the map. Unfortunately, much of it can be labeled “cheesy.” Worst of all, it’s not taken seriously.

Whatever your message to the public at large, the worse response to a general, mainstream media message is apathy. Getting ignored proves that you wasted whatever time and money you invested.

Tied for third place is the hearty “Amen” from the already converted, and the indignant cry of “Wrong!” from the opponents, both with little in the way of follow-up and follow-through.

The second most desirable response to a general market communications campaign is the protest, demands for a retraction, a letter campaign, pickets. A real outcry extends the reach of your original message to exponentially more than would have received the message otherwise. I’ve seen pickets and demonstrations do wonders (make million$$) for the people they were trying to shut down.

The winner for any marketing message fired out into the atmosphere for the general public is the considered response by the unaffiliated and undecided. The second look. The “maybe I’ll try it.” Watch how the political campaigns sprint for the middle after their nominations are secure.

That’s the position most churches find themselves in. Declining in attendance, marginalized by the media, mocked by the educational and scientific establishment, churches have a lot of ground to make up with people who don’t hate church. They don’t love church either. They are kinda-sorta you know, just busy doing other stuff. Enter the blog “Church Marketing Sucks.”

Given what they think is a “timeless message,” and “good news for the whole world,” churches have the potential to build a pretty good reputation at the grassroots. Media images, sex scandals and mega churches aside, what can a small to mid-sized congregation do to communicate its positive, feel-good message to its nonchalant neighbors?

Check out the serious and fun-filled folks who post at Church Marketing Sucks. Recent posts include a gallery of marketing poster art, dispatches from a Compassion project with orphans in Uganda, and a poll on love/dating/sex sermons. It's an excellent forum for taking this sector up a few notches in quality and effectiveness. We can only pray.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All out interactive: fun with your contact form

The more interactive web communications becomes, the more your website will have to connect and engage your visitors.

Writer Edward Pistachio was super-effective at this by putting a puzzle at the top of his "contact" page. Solve the puzzle, win the privilege of contacting the writer.

It's a perfect strategy if you're wanting to raise the quality of your contacts (and maybe make a repeat visitor out of him).

Read more at:
Edward Pistachio's website:

(Parental advisory: Pistachio's prose is vulgar at times. I hope you're not easily offended.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Doritos goes “deep branding” - music and marketing

(written Monday morning after Super Bowl XLII)

At a friend’s Super Bowl party, one ad stuck out, mostly because it’s the one that got a reaction from his 18 year old daughter. “Who is that,” she asked, wondering about the strangely passionate and peaceful music video that ran right after the first quarter.

It was Kina Grannis, 22-year old songwriter and winner of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” music contest. Seriously... exposure on THE SUPER BOWL! Instant awareness to 90 million plus, and the curious will follow up. Oh yeah, a contract with Interscope Records was part of the grand prize.

When I got back home, I found a story on the Doritos campaign in the Wall St. Journal. This morning, I googled her name. A few thoughts:

On her website, she says "thanks" and that she'll be busy for a few days. (I'm thinking she's being wined and dined in LA today, first class flights, limos, hotel suite, lots of sucking up... kinda cool...)

She's got good graphic support. Most of her website is down, and she has no shows scheduled right now.

The myspace page is poppin'! 4 songs to listen to, and lots of love from lots of people. The 4 songs she has are strong, very well produced. I'm at 196724 plays. Check back tomorrow. I wonder what it was before last night. And she's a very good writer. Which is to say (a few things about kick-starting a music career):

1) The music is central, starting with the composition. Cover songs mean nothing to an artist trying to break in. Build your career around original work. How deep is the well? How many songs do you have in there anyway?

2) Presentation = production. Good arrangements and recording are almost equal to the audience. We're in the media age - get it? People have to hear the work, ENGAGE with the work. One of Kina's songs on her myspace page sounds like it was recorded over the phone. Interesting. Cute. Penetrating. Good production is worth whatever you have to spend on it. Don't scrimp on this one.

3) Get out there. Kina's support and fan base love comes from being in a community (was S. Cal., now Austin), playing in front of people, being nice to people, random acts of kindness. Collaborations. etc. Which is to say, if you want a public career, you will have to be OUT (to the limits of your soul, integrity, creative output - out-ness can be overdone too, so be careful).

A few thoughts about the Doritos campaign (as documented by Betsy McKay in the Wall St. Journal, 2/1/08)...

Doritos sales dipped in the early part of the decade, so Frito-Lay/Pepsico shifted direction. So a brand that's been around for 42 years isn't afraid to change its look. That's easy when your target is teens and young adults.

Jay Leno and Miss USA out. "Name that flavor" online contest, Stephen Colbert, and edgy on line music competition in.

Wisely, Doritos didn't lower itself to creating a jingle-contest. All we know about Gen-Y and Mosaics says they hate hype and bad pitches. The campaign director - 32 year old Rudy Wilson, avid video gamer who plays Guitar Hero in his office. (did you notice the background to Tom Petty's concert had arrows moving along guitar strings, very "Guitar Hero"-ish.)

The angle worked for me: bring "original music with a 'bold, intense' image, because they 'bring a passion' to their music, Ms. Mukherjee (Frito-Lay VP-marketing) says."

While the online music competition wasn't launched until later October, it caught on fast with the music industry and bloggers.

The concept took months to set up. It was not a "last-minute" idea rushed to the web. Today's fast-paced media world (easy-to-update social networking sites, digital video production) offers flexibility, and the ability to respond to market conditions, but nothing beats a well-executed idea with all the parts and players in position.

The Doritos music video got high and low marks from critics and viewers. ('s Alexander Wolfe raved. Slate panned it.) But in the communications world, two things matter: getting noticed (for good or bad), and moving merchandise. I guess it depends on how much you value the squishy notion of "branding."

Sales have turned since F-L tuned it’s approach. WSJ reports a 6.4% rise in sales in 2007. The price tag for the music video - $5M (which comes to a mere .3% of Doritos’ U.S. gross revenues of $1.7B).

When I'm at the chip aisle, I' tend to buy generic, unless there is some emotional, subjective "feeling" toward the cooler, more expensive chip. Kina Grannis won't make me hungry for chips, but her music might create a physiological response, over-riding my budget and allowing me to enjoy the premium brand.

Hedging its bet, put the Doritos “giant mouse” spot in its “Ten Best” for 2008 Super Bowl ads. It got out loud laughs (LOLs) from our crew too. So there you have it. “Deep branding” for younger, edgier set. Guffaws for us guys with da brats and beer bellies.

(photos by little grey-flickr,

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ads in Transition

The Wall Street Journal gives us a wonderful case study in the relative economics of revenues from banner ads and premium (paid) subscriptions.

(I tend to watch Rupert Murdoch pretty closely. His billions give him a bit o’ financial credibility.)

Mr. Murdoch is $5B lighter after adding the WSJ to his media stable. (The guy buys media the way Jay Leno buys cars!) At the Journal, his Rupert-ness promised to beef up the Journal's ad-sales effort and to lift its circulation. (Don’t read “print circulation” – that would fly in the face of terminal forecasts for all print outlets.)

On one side, free content (breaking news alerts, opinion, personal finance, lifestyle, as well as some videos, blogs, podcasts and other interactive elements). Note that those visiting the non-paid side spend less time on the site. Visitors who link to the WSJ from Google News get can see their article for free, but WSJ hopes readers will like what they see and pony up for a subscription.

On the other side, where subscriptions could be as high as $119, advertisers also pay a premium to reach the more committed visitors. The Journal itself reports $60M in subscription revenue last year.

Here’s the dilemma: the Journal would have to double or triple its monthly visitors to earn as much in ad dollars as it does in subscriptions. So the Dow Jones publishers continue to carefully adjust the balance of free and paid content, with incentives and attractions all around. Consumers are constantly valuing and reassessing their budget for information tools.

I’m feeling your pain Rupert.

SOURCE: “ to Retain Subscription Component” by Emily Steel, January 25, 2008, Wall St. Journal,

Introducing "Intel 10.0"

Introducing Intel 10.0 – Earth-shaping facts and perspective on business, internet communications and media relations from Chavis Crew Communications...

First, a few facts:

Top 3 media for triggering an online search are: magazines, reading an article on the product and TV.

Top newspaper websites in unique visitors (Dec. 2007, Nielsen Online)
1., 17.2 million
2., 9.9 million
3., 8.5 million
4., 6.5 million
5. Wall Street Journal Online, 5.4 million

Magazines go on line only, abandon paper and ink editions CCM Magazine ceases print edition. Salem Communications will publish its last print issue 4/08. Late in 2007, Strang Communications moved its publications New Man and Spirit-Led Woman to on-line only editions.
Of course, facts are not enough, but who has time to keep up with all the trends in business, internet communications and media relations? The communications landscape is changing. A few subtle, seismic shifts at a time, islands are appearing and shorelines are being redrawn. Old monuments are being washed away, replaced by new landforms. The end result is akin to a 10.0 earthquake, but occuring in little increments.

This blog is established to give you a couple of quick updates, an occasional pithy quote, some analysis, and a few links so you can find out more. Quick information you can use. Perspective to give you an advantage. Effective intelligence. Call this blog "Intel 10.0."

Business guru Ram Charan’s latest book targets the pure practice of selling in the 21st century. What the Customer Wants You to Know (2007, Portfolio) points sales managers back to the basic practice of a customer-driven approach. In the Wall St. Journal (Jan. 28, ’08), Charan says, “(salespeople) should find out what the customer needs, which will be a combination of products and services and thought leadership.”

I believe that thought leadership will make the difference for you in a competitive, erratic and hyper-paced marketplace. “Wisdom and understanding” are prize possessions in this info-glutted age. I’m dedicated to helping you succeed by sifting information that can make a difference and getting it to you here in this blog, so that you consider it, ponder the possibilities, and take action.

I’m aiming for at least one update per week, more if breaking news requires it. I hope you’ll subscribe.