Seeing as you are reading this review, there’s a good chance that you understand that marketing and the church are not incompatible. But even if you don’t see that connection, I feel Donald’s title for the first chapter hits the reason why this book matters for the church.
The key to being seen, heard, and understood.
No, I’m not talking about the use of the Oxford/serial comma, I’m talking about how this related to Romans 10:14:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
Marketing matters for churches because if people don’t hear us — if our message is lost in the noise of this busy world, which Don highlights at the end of the chapter — then how can we expect people to believe and be saved?
For business, but useful for churches.
Donald opens the book with a clear sign that he is addressing businesses, a departure from every previous book he has written for individuals, but this is still relevant for the church as we’ll see later in the book.
The majority of the first chapter is to address the usual mistakes business make when it comes to marketing. These mistakes result in “wast(ing) enormous amounts of money on marketing” I’m sure this applies to churches too.
I know some people will quote 1 Corinthians 15:58 and that say that nothing is wasted for God, but that doesn’t mean we were good stewards of the talents and resources God gave us.
Anyway enough on the value of marketing for churches, what are these problems we should avoid?
Poorly communicated products
Donald says they are all connected to talking about our products badly. He suggest that pretty designs and websites won’t be effective if we don’t have a clear and message.
I’d suggest that there is probably a touch of the reverse too. If we have a clear message, but the design is so distracting then people won’t be able to read our message.
However, I’d always choose a clear, clarified message with a good enough design over an imprecise message with a fantastic design (writes the guy with good enough design chops).
Next, Donald gets into the meat of the message — most marketing messages are too complicated — they prevent the brain from taking it in. Instead, we need a simple, clear message that communicates to primal parts of our brain.
- How does it help me survive and thrive
- Clear communication without needing to think too much.
Now the solution
After setting up the problem, Don introduces the solution to these two issues, the power of story.
He immediately notes the “eye roll” in the room of some people who think a story is too artsy and immediately launches into showing how story helps provide a clear and simple to remember the message that sticks as the story is so ingrained into us.
Maybe I’ve been around folk who preach story for a while but he didn’t really need to convert me hear. As Christians, I think we can all relate to the enduring power of the parables. Heck, I think many of my non-christian friends can tell you at least one parable even if they never went to church, but they constantly muddle up or misrepresent christian beliefs.
The need for a framework
Don lists a few business frameworks at this point and I have to confess, I didn’t really recognise them. Regardless, the point is that these frameworks apparently highlight the need for an effective and simple marketing framework which he has developed (It’s called SB7, it stands for the StoryBrand 7-Part Framework). This should help us all to communicate in effective ways (and explaining each part of the framework makes us the majority of the book).
Clarify your message
The final section of the first chapter ends with a call to clarify our messages again. I remember listening to this the first time and wondering if it really applied to my church and messaging. I was a bit afraid at this point that the book would just repeat the same old tired mantras and I was wrong.
The set up maybe familiar, but I definitely got a lot out of the book. If you read all this and think “I know that” then fine, bear with Donald as I know you’ll get something out of the rest of the book.
What do you believe is the biggest framework in general the Church can have in telling the story and how does your local church’s framework fit into that?