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7 Marketing Lessons from Jesus Christ

December 25, 2013

Photo courtesy of James Shepard

Today is Christmas, so I thought it would be a good time to talk to you about Jesus. Specifically, marketing and Jesus.

What would happen if Jesus, instead of turning water into wine, healing lepers, or walking on water, had a blog to promote or was trying to position himself as an expert? How would he market himself?

I don’t know.

What I do know is we can learn a lot from the way Jesus and Christianity have been marketed. And here are seven lessons you can use to market your book, blog, or other product…

7 Marketing Lessons from Jesus Christ and Christianity

1. Start with a Core Group – Jesus had 12 apostles who were willing to put everything on the line for him. This is worth more than thousands of people who “kind of” like you, which is what most businesses have.

What you really want, and what you should be focusing on, are the core superfans who will not only buy everything you put out and come to every event you do, but also tell all their friends (and strangers they meet) about you.

How can you encourage this? Keep reading…

2. Don’t Be Shy – When you’re selling something, it’s not the time to be timid. You don’t have to be overly aggressive, but you also don’t want to come across like, “Well, if it’s convenient for you, and it’s not raining, and maybe you could think about stopping by my book signing on Friday.”

How would an enthusiastic Christian get somebody to church? “If it’s convenient” doesn’t cut it. It’s more like, “Church starts at 10:30 on Sunday morning, but you’ll want to get a good seat. I’ll pick you up at 9am, so we can be sure to get a pew right in front. I’ll bring coffee and donuts.”

I’m not saying you need to act like an Amway rep and force something down another’s throat, but do be enthusiastic and make it easy (and fun) for people to say yes.

3. Give People a Reward – It’s tough to compete with eternal life and forgiveness of sin, but your job of getting people on board with what you’re doing is a lot easier when you can give them a benefit for signing up.

When it comes to live events, like book signings or seminars, for most people, the social experience is more important than event itself. Always keep this in mind.

But aren’t the live events you do about sharing important knowledge with people? Yeah, for you, but you’re not most people.

You are not your fans. They like different things than you do.

I know this is depressing for a lot of people who have great ideas to share, but keep in mind that most people at church value playing on the church softball team or eating fried chicken with their friends every Sunday more than entry into Heaven, so you’re not the only one dealing with the fact that people want something secondary, instead of the main product you’re selling.

The bottom line is, if people are spending money with you, you can keep writing books, blog posts, and whatever else you want to do. Focus on those who are there for the “right” reason, but don’t neglect those who are just there.

4. Social Proof – It’s easier to sell an idea when you have a lot of people who already buy into it. Saddleback Church, founded by Rick Warren, has an average weekly attendance of 20,000 people.

How do you do this? Follow Lesson #1, “Start with a Core Group” —Saddleback started with 200 people there and that was on Easter, a pretty easy day for getting people in the building. Then back this up with Lessons #2 and #3.

Perhaps the best example of social proof in church marketing isn’t the number of people at a service though — it’s the fact that a large percentage of people attend church or have a certain belief system simply because their parents do.

5. Give the Demo – Jesus didn’t wait to show people what he could do until he had signed them up as followers. You didn’t have to sign up for his coaching, or buy his book, or go to his seminar to see his best work. Whether it was healing a blind man, cleaning a leper, or curing a bleeding woman, he did the work first and trusted what followed.

6. Start Marketing Early – Like banks that market to college students or cigarette companies that give out samples to kids, churches start their marketing process as soon as possible with special activities for kids and services, like day care, for new parents.

Once people sign up for a bank or start smoking a certain brand of cigarette, they don’t switch. The same is true for people who follow a certain belief system, such as a religion.

Inertial is powerful. If you have a good product or service and you can get somebody to buy in early, it’s unlikely they’ll leave you for something else.

Are you getting into the minds of potential clients as early as possible? If your product or service is made for “advanced” people, do you have something you could develop that would be appropriate for beginners?

7. Tell a Story – The message of Jesus has been passed along through stories. There are stories in the Bible, stories in Sunday School lessons, and stories given by the church leadership during services.

When a Christian witnesses to a non-Christian, he tells stories. Chick Tracts contain stories. Stories sell.

Stories are your must powerful marketing message. Tell them.

Have a great holiday!

ABOUT THIS SERIES: This is a special, Christmas Edition of my Marketing Lessons series. Every Monday, I analyze the good, bad, and ugly about the marketing behind a common business or famous personality. See other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for something (or someone) you’d like me to analyze for this series, contact me via Twitter.

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