[Cache – #132]
As most managers know, newly-minted MBAs think they know everything.
But there are some crucial business skills that MBAs aren’t taught. The most important (next to humility 🙂 ) is the ability to sell. The further along I am in my career, the more amazed I am that a course on salesmanship wasn’t in the core curriculum at Schulich, my alma mater. Without the ability to sell yourself and your products and services – whether you’re an employee in a large corporation or an entrepreneur hungry for your next d(m)eal – you can accomplish very little.
Imagine for a moment that you have a product that is the toughest in the world to sell. I am speaking, of course, of religion. Our reaction to anyone even implying we join their team is viscerally negative. How then could they possibly stoke our interest in even the slightest way? The answer, as it turns out, is a case study not just in selling but in effective branding.
It all began with a friendly invitation. From my mother, whose church was leveraging the classic branding technique of frame of reference: analogous to the way Subway is positioned not as a fast food joint per se, but as a healthier alternative, I was invited not to join her religion, but to commit the much less threatening act of visiting her church.
The initiative was called “Back to Church Sunday,” put on by Christ Church St. James in Etobicoke, and the brand experience was remark-able. They have just completed a sparkling new addition to the building, including a library from which anyone, member of the congregation or not, can borrow a book. Steps inside the bright, modern, airy space, you are encouraged to pour a coffee from the pot there, and take it right to your pew – an unprecedented bit of freedom from the typical, rule-intense church environment.
Sipping my coffee as the service began, a screen on the back wall was used to project the words to the hymns, another modern touch I had seen only in the States. And then the highlight of the experience, in the form of a brilliantly-produced video: “Reasons People Don’t Go To Church.”
The two-minute film, expertly shot and at turns deeply touching and funny, consists of people giving their reasons (and excuses) for not attending church. For example:
“I can’t come until I get my life together.”
And then a response from a church-goer – in this case Lisa, a hairdresser, who replies: “Church is how I got my life together.”
“Church is for wimpy girly men.”
From two gigantic guys: “You wanna say that again??”
“Church is filled with a bunch of hypocrites.”
And then from Rudy, a pipefitter: “And there is always room for one more.”
“Is there some kind of dress code?”
From Ingrid: “Yes. The code is: wear some clothes.”
“If you knew me, and what I’ve done, you wouldn’t want me.”
From Mike, a retired pilot: “If you knew me, and what I’ve done, you wouldn’t be worried.”
The overriding brand message is one of comfort and unconditional acceptance and complete forgiveness. From a place full of people who are really real. Imperfect human beings who’ve thought and done things they feel guilty about. Real people in the very human condition of not being sure if they believe in a higher power.
In other words, Christ Church St. James delivered a completely customized brand experience. In yet another departure from the religious norm, this sale was not about God, but all about you – the customer.
BOOK: Buy the #1 Globe and Mail bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo at Books for Business
RADIO: interview on CBC Radio One about unhappiness with Microsoft Windows 8
TV: BNN interview re. Lance Armstrong’s brand (starts at the 3:30 mark, after the ad).
BLOG: 131 issues and counting! #131: The Unacceptable Cost of Poor Vision http://goo.gl/JvfRTE