22 June 2011
Four Lessons for Life in The Thank You Economy
One of the challenges for churches and ministers working in social media is figuring out how to build meaningful relationships with members, friends, and strangers.
In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk draws on lessons he's learned from working with customers with his wine business and translates them into some great lessons for life, business, social media - and, as I see it, church and ministry.
Its worth reading in its entirety, but here are four big lessons I took away from it:
Distinguish Between Caring and Selling
Vaynerchuk says that he began building recognition for his wine shop by following conversations on Twitter about wine. He would answer questions and give recommendations - but he would never link to his own website. He wanted to make a human connection, not just a sale. He writes:
"Eventually, people started to see my comments and think, “Oh, hey, it’s that Vaynerchuk guy; he knows Chardonnay. Oh cool, he does a wine show—let’s take a look. Hey, he’s funny. I like him; I trust him. And check it out: he sells wine, too. Free shipping? Let’s try a bottle of that….” That’s what caring first, not selling first, looks like, and that’s how I built my brand."
Guy Kawasaki calls this enchantment, which he describes as "the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization, or idea. The outcome of enchantment is voluntary and long-lasting support that is mutually beneficial."
In the church, we can confuse caring and selling. Because we're a church we think that everything we do is caring. However, many times when we think we're caring we are actually selling. We really want our congregations to grow and so we sell our product - the church, its ministries, its family feeling - and hope people will buy - that they will join and pledge.
What if we approached people not as potential members and pledgers? What if, at least to start, we shelved any talk of "membership" and just got to know them, understand them. What if we focused more on the person's needs than the congregation's?
Shoot from the Heart
Limited resources are a fact of life for everyone in ministry. Something will always need to be fixed. Budgets will always be tight. We'd always like to have more money for more staffing and ministry programs. We spend countless meetings figuring out how to make our limited resources stretch. In the process, we might be missing our biggest resource.
"There’s only so low you can go on price. There’s only so excellent you can make your product or service. There’s only so far you can stretch your marketing budget. Your heart, though—that’s boundless. ...what pays off most is your willingness to show people that you care—about them, about their experience with you, about their business."
"If your organization’s intentions transcend the mere act of selling a product or service, and it is brave enough to expose its heart and soul, people will respond. They will connect. They will like you. They will talk. They will buy."
Our heart, our love, our caring, our welcome - these are renewable resources and these are the things that matter most to people.
Lutherans say that we are justified by God's grace and by nothing that we do. We make this clear at the pulpit and table, but not always in the rest of our life together. We - and I'll say "I" here because I'm awful at this - need to do a better job of expressing appreciation for one another. We need to publicly appreciate people more - and appreciate them not just for what they do, but who they are.
We should also learn to appreciate people who might criticize and disagree with us.
These are people that are engaged and passionate enough to form and express an opinion, even if it is an unpopular one (which is harder to share than one that is popular.) We should run toward and not away from these critiques - not just to mollify people, but to leverage their passion and engagement and turn it into a positive.
Give Your People Something to Be Passionate About
"If you’re going to launch a campaign, it has to be one that evokes an emotion—positive or negative—so that people feel compelled to share. Give them something to talk about, unleash the power of word of mouth, and allow them to pull you into their consciousness."
Pastors lament that their church members rarely invite anyone to church. We tend to see it as people being shy or not confident enough in their faith. Honestly, we see it as their fault. What if its ours?
Evangelism, generally speaking now, is ultimately about people feeling passionate enough about something to tell others about it. Our members evangelize all the time - about Groupons, sales, places, experiences, schools. They are passionate and engaged enough about these things to want to tell the world about it.
Are we giving them the same opportunity to be passionate about their church experience? What would it take to get your members just bursting to share something about your church on Facebook or in conversation with a friend? Give them something to be passionate about and they'll share.
I don't have any answers here on this, but I am learning. I learn by watching Facebook and seeing what of our church/my content people share. I'm learning what is share-worthy and trying to provide more of the same.
What have your people gotten so passionate about in your church to share about lately? What does it tell you?
Your turn: What lessons have you learned reading or living in The Thank You Economy? Any of these lessons ring true for you?