One of the classic mistakes most businesses make is to target “everyone”. The StoryBrand approach is completely against this idea. Although, unlike some other marketing ideas which tell you to write out a detailed ideal customer profile — full of demographic and psychographic data — the StoryBrand framework gets you to focus on what the customer wants and how you can satisfy their wants.
This touches on one of the simple but important ideas that I really like in the StoryBrand book.
You are not the hero, your customer is the hero.
A lot of messages people put out, usually with the reason d’ete that they help brand awareness or prestige. But when the majority of your messaging focuses on how great you are, that’s a mistake.
What does the character want?
The next key aspect of the character is that they want something. In truth, they probably want many things but for the storybrand framework, you must focus on one aspect of that.
This is helpful for marketing as you avoid confusing messages when you try to communicate to everyone, and end up communicating to no one. In Storybrand, It’s particularly applied to websites as, after all, that is one of the major branding exercises that companies and churches undertake nowadays.
Imagine a website that has five messages to five different groups of people. It’s not going to work. In contrast, a website that has one clear message to one person would be much more effective.
How does this apply to ChurchMag?
At ChurchMag we help Christians use technology to become more like Christ and help others do likewise.
This has actually something that the staff writers have debated. Since we started 10 years ago the term “Church Tech” has come to mean very different things since it’s beginning. Early on, things like Church Websites and sound desks tech were the latest and most important topics, then the smartphone and social revolutions occurred and grew in prominence. Now, social media is a standard part of church communications so it may not be even viewed as technology anymore.
We’ve debated if we had moved away from “Church Tech” to a more “geeky church culture” but I believe this one-liner sums things up well.
How does this apply to churches?
I partially think this kind of messaging really applies to churches as well but I’m not fully convinced.
It works because some churches spend ages talking about how great their church is, or how wonderful their pastor is. In doing so, they are positioning themselves as the hero and not the guide.
It also works because churches communicate to the same people as businesses. They have the same wants and desires. As Christians, I’m sure we can agree that many of these desires are God-derived, even if people seek to fulfill them in negative ways.
However, I worry that by speaking purely to these desires, we can end up with a “consumer focused faith”. By talking about how our church will fulfill your community need, we reduce the costly call of christianity.
When we look at how Jesus spoke to people, he certainly addressed their wants, but he also put high demands and commitments on his listeners. Later in his ministry when people asked about following him, he didn’t talk about how he would fulfill their need for status.
And yet, Jesus did speak to people’s needs. Sometimes it wasn’t the need the person thought needed addressing, sometimes he tackled the deeper need first and then the more obvious need.
In general, I think it’s a fine line we have to critically walk.
Positioning yourself as the hero is a classic mistake that most businesses make and you can certainly see it among churches. And “consumer focused faith” is a problem. At the same time, the perspective Don offers is useful for churches to consider in their marketing messaging.
How do you use this hero position in your sermons, marketing, and evangelize from your church both correctly and incorrectly?