The Dip and Making Changes

A few years ago I read The Dip, by Seth Godin. He’s a bestselling author of marketing and motivational books, and I find his work interesting. For the most part, his ideas are common sense things we already know but periodically need to be reminded of by good writers.

“The Dip” is a “little book that teaches you when to quit and when to stick.” I bring this up not because I’m quitting this blog.

Goodness no.

I’m moving it to a new location. And merging it (mergers can be good, yes?) I’m making it part of my Adunate business blog in order to be more efficient with my time and make best use of a larger readership.

New Location

So check it out at adunate.com/blog/ under the Communicating Christ category. Bookmark the site. Read and comment often! And take time to check out the other categories as well.

God’s blessings!

Are You Listening to Your Gen Y?

A couple weeks ago I attended Edge: Online Promotion, a trade seminar on using social media to promote business. Initially, I questioned how worthwhile it would be because when I researched the presenter online, she looked to be all of 25-years-old.

I mean, really, how much professional experience could someone this age have? And how much Twittering could she be doing that actually substantiated something more than outings with her friends? After all, I need to learn how to market my business. I need to generate income!

Boy, was I wrong.

Caitlin McCabe is a social media strategist. Maybe you’re like me and wondering what this newly invented title does? According to her elevator pitch she develops “highly-detailed, research-based social media plans for brands that seek to utilize the latest tools to create relationships online, build brand buzz, and determine their ROI.”

Simply put, Caitlin helps businesses utilize online social media for their marketing purposes. Her client list includes Mitsubishi and Allstate Insurance. Clearly she’s more than narcissistic fluff.

Caitlin is a smart cookie who’s quick on the draw. She knows big name companies now recognize social media as a viable and necessary marketing tool. She’s in the forefront of advising them and I bet she’s getting paid pretty good to do so.

So what’s my point? And how does this relate to communicating Christ?

Well, let me ask my question again…are you listening to your Gen Y?

As longtime church members, wizened with experience and age, it’s easy for us to feel we know the “best way” to manage our congregation. We make all the decisions because, after all, we’re the only ones attending meetings and volunteering to serve.

But in today’s age, is our way always best? Do we even know all the possibilities?

When was the last time you contacted 20-30 year olds and asked their opinion on your church website? Or the monthly newsletter? Do they even read the newsletter? Have you asked them to set up a church Facebook account? Or a Twitter?

When was the last time you seriously considered their suggestions?

There’s a reason big companies are listening to Gen Y. God has blessed this generation with innovative ideas very different than those of generations before them. Their creative thinking is setting the pace for today’s technological world.

Our churches need to listen to Gen Y too.

Three Ways to Combat the 30-3-30 Rule

Recently I presented the workshop “Creating Newsletters People Actually Read” at the Church & Change Conference in Milwaukee. Apparently, this topic interests many because the turnout was great and we had interesting discussions.

One point I made is the “30-3-30 Rule.” This theory says there are three kinds of readers: 30-second readers, 3-minute readers and 30-minute readers. Unfortunately, 30-second readers make up 80 percent of the average newsletter audience.

Certainly this percentage necessitates greater efforts in good design and concise writing. But inventive editors have come up with other ideas, as well. I researched and found a few.

Write Creative Headlines
Advertising authority David Oglivy knew the importance of a good headline.
In his book Confessions of an Advertising Man, he offers four proven headline types; the How To, the Question, the Top 10 Reasons, and the Testimonial.

Challenge Readers
When I was a kid, I would scour issues of Highlights Magazine, searching for the hidden images. Some newsletters create the same challenge by “hiding” a member’s name (or other identifying information) in the text of the newsletter. The first member to spot it and call the office, wins a prize. What a fun way to hook young and old readers alike.

Feature New Members
People are naturally interested in other people. Particularly new people. Introduce new members in your newsletter, together with a nice snapshot. It immediately gets newcomers involved in the newsletter and also is a great way for members to get to know them.

Pass Along Ideas
What’s proven successful for your church newsletter?
Please share!


Right Message, Wrong Delivery

A month ago today a murder took place. It was a drive-by shooting right in front of the public high school of my hometown—the small, bedroom community of Owosso, MI—and the man killed was an activist infamous to the area.

I say infamous because he was an anti-abortion protester.

Knowing our nation’s diverse stance on abortion and the volatile topic it is, being “anti-abortion” can mean many things. There are those who believe in the sanctity of life and lovingly encourage others of God’s truths. Their goal, as humanly possible, is to mirror Jesus during his time here on earth.

And then, there are those who share this belief but voice it in a much more rank and oppressive manner. Owosso’s murder victim was allegedly one of those. Residents, including his own son, complained of his gruesome posters and the harrassing way he enforced his view.

Being obnoxious certainly doesn’t warrant getting killed. But one has to wonder how much more effective this activist might have been had he delivered his message in a less menacing way? Instead of shocking people with graphic images of dead babies, what if he enlightened them the beauty of a living one? Instead of angering pregnant women with biblical law at a critical, vulnerable time, what if he offered them hope, comfort and God’s love?

Instead of being anti, as in anti-abortion, what if he had been pro, as in pro-life?

A Type of Humor: Churches and Papyrus

papyrusToday, I came across a funny post regarding churches and fonts. It’s a broad covering of my topic, but hey, it’s good to smile and share a laugh.

First, since it’s sort of an industry joke, a few words of explanation:

There are two fonts graphic designers love to hate: Papyrus and Comic Sans. Snobbish as we are—we don’t even call them fonts, by the way, we pretentiously refer to them as typefaces—designers cringe at the sight both.

Actually, there’s nothing wrong with either Papyrus or Comic Sans. They both are types beautifully crafted for their purposes by highly skilled designers. The only sin they’re guilty of is overuse. And use in the wrong setting. This, of course, makes it user error, not type error.

That said, here’s the tongue-in-cheek posting: New Barna Study: Overused Typeface Gains Foothold in U.S. Churches.

Enjoy!

Reaching Out with LinkedIn

puzzleYesterday, I attended a St. Paul’s Business Builders meeting and came back really pumped. The featured guest was Wayne Breitbarth, who spoke on using LinkedIn to stay connected. My purpose was for business, but I came away in awe of how this technological brainstorm can benefit churches.

LinkedIn, like Facebook, MySpace and many others, is a social networking site. Unlike others, it’s a business site and, for the most part, is without the worthless banter you’ll find elsewhere. LinkedIn’s purpose is for users to maintain a list of business connections they know and trust. As of July 2009, there were 43 million registered users.

What makes LinkedIn so fascinating are its “degrees of separation.” Remember the joke about the six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon? Well, LinkedIn narrows this down to three: direct connections, second-degree connections and third-degree connections. While your direct connections are those you know and trust, their direct connections become your second-degree and their second-degree become your third. I know, it sounds a little complicated, if not pyramidal. But compare it to the old-fashioned ideal of gaining introductions to distant people via a mutual, trusted friend.

So, how can churches gain from this? Well, how limited is your creativity?

For starters, LinkedIn users are allowed three website listings on their profile page—the page viewed by your connections or the public, depending on your choice of settings. What a great way to direct millions to your church’s website! Be sure to click “edit” and give the link a name other than “My Website.”

LinkedIn has powerful search features. Businesses use this feature to seek resources for their bottom line. Churches can seek resources for their heavenly goal. Are you looking to build a new building and want to hire a contractor affiliated with your beliefs? Are you looking for a graphic designer for your congregation’s identity? Search LinkedIn’s people, jobs, companies, business, answers, inbox or group options.

LinkedIn’s Groups feature is exciting. It’s comforting. It’s welcoming. Groups are communities based on common interests and affiliations, where members can communicate via forums and LinkedIn messaging (email). Users can easily join one of the thousands of groups already formed (I searched the “church” category and came up with 1,749). Or users can create a group of their own. Imagine a group for your congregation and exchanging encouragement, prayers, schedules and news.

Perhaps LinkedIn’s greatest feature is one I should reiterate: 43 million users. Even if this is a passing fad, it currently has the attention of forty-three million people. Talk about going out into the world with the message of Christ!

Feeling Welcomed

A story regarding education on today’s National Public Radio stated that even in overly large classrooms, when the teacher stands outside the door and greets students as they come in,  they feel more welcomed and individualized.

Such a simple thing. And so very true.

As adults, we haven’t outgrown the need to feel welcomed. Isn’t it nice when the pastor greets you at the church door? And what about members of the congregation? Isn’t welcoming to have them receive you as well?

Such a simple way of communicating the love of Christ. Welcome!