December 13, 2004 by

There’s a great new article up at Wired Online News about George Masters, a 36-year-old high school teacher who created, all on his own, an animated ad for the Apple iPod Mini that’s getting some good attention on the web via blogs and email. And now, of course, via Wired News. Why would a school teacher spend a good chunk of his free time, for five months, crafting a really slick ad for no money? For no real recognition other than a, “Hey, that’s cool,” from a few friends? Because he really, really likes his iPod.

Masters frankly admits that he partly worked on the project as a way of teaching himself some computer animation basics, and to be part of a portfolio. That being said, why pick the iPod mini as his subject? Because he’s a huge fan. And let’s remember that “fan” is short for “fanatic.”

We would like our church members to be this enthusiastic about our organizations and activities, wouldn’t we? Why does something as seemingly trivial as a music playing machine command such loyalty and intimate support from fans all over the world? Why are some people willing to go to such lengths to support a sports team (have you seen those guys who paint their entire bodies?), but unwilling to spend even an extra hour a week supporting your church’s efforts.

It’s called marketing, people. Serious marketing. And I don’t mean advertising, though that is part of it. But Apple’s marketing is much deeper than advertising. They begin… at the beginning. With their customers. They find out what they want from their products. Lots and lots of research, testing, surveys and focus groups. Lots of design iterations. Lots of work before a product ever leaves the door.

For example: have you ever asked members of your congregation to participate in a variety of different formats of worship over the course of several weeks, and report back on what parts of the services seemed most meaningful? How about trying that for a Bible study program? Shorter meetings held more often? Or one, all-day program once a month? Who knows what folks might like? You need to ask. That’s the first step in a sophisticated marketing program.

And when you have sophisticated marketing, you get more than clients, customers or members—you end up with converts. Evangelists. People who feel like a true part of what you are doing. Because you made them a part of the whole process, not just a recipient of an end-product.

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Andy Havens

Andy Havens brings 15 years of experience to the table and is the founder and president of the marketing firm Sanestorm, as well as a number of different blogs. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, Christina, and his son, Daniel.
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