How to Make Your Brand Contagious

Some church leaders consider “brand” to be a four-letter word more appropriate in the marketplace than for churches. The concept of branding has undergone changes in the last decade that demand church leaders not only accept them, but also lead forward through them.

Branding in today’s cultural context is less “this is what we can do for you” and more “this is who we are.” Here is the challenge: your brand isn’t what you say it is; it’s what your “customers” say it is. (If you want to read more about this, download SUMS Remix 81).

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

What makes things popular? If you said advertising, think again. People don’t listen to advertisements; they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral?

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has spent the last decade answering these questions. He’s studied why New York Times articles make the paper’s own Most E-mailed list, why products get word of mouth, and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy, to the clothes we wear, to the names we give our children.

In Contagious, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheesesteak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the most seemingly boring products there is: a blender.

Contagious provides a set of specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing messages, advertisements, and content that people will share. Whether you’re a manager at a big company, a small business owner trying to boost awareness, a politician running for office, or a health official trying to get the word out, Contagious will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

People love to be a part of stories, and to tell stories – the latest “news” on the neighborhood, a great new restaurant opening nearby, the awesome vacation they just returned from.

People also like to tell the darker side of stories – gossip, a terrible meal experience, or the lousy and expensive vacation they had.

Then there are the online stories: social proof, provided by peer-to-peer recommendations of products and services, is a powerful way to persuade your potential customers.

Take a look at these results about online reviews by BrightLocal, a social media agency:

  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 58% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is most important

Word of mouth – literally, in conversations face to face, or figuratively, in online conversations, is a primary factor behind many of the decisions we are making everyday.

How can your church tap into this important vehicle of conversation going on all around you? 

After analyzing hundreds of contagious messages, products, and ideas, we noticed that the same six “ingredients,” or principles, were often at work. Six key STEPPS, as I call them, that cause things to be talked about, shared, and imitated.

Principle 1: Social Currency

How does it make people look to talk about a product or idea? What we talk about influences how others see us. It’s social currency. So to get people talking we need to craft messages that help them achieve these desired impressions. We need to find our inner remarkability and make people feel like insiders.

Principle 2: Triggers

How do we remind people to talk about our ideas and products? Triggers are stimuli that prompt people to think about related things. People often talk about whatever comes to mind, so we need to design ideas that are frequently triggered by the environment and create new triggers to prevalent cues in that environment. Top of mind leads to tip of tongue.

Principle 3: Emotion

When we care, we share. So how can we craft messages and ideas that make people feel something? Emotional things often get shared. So rather than harping on function, we need to focus on feelings.

Principle 4: Public

Can people see when others are using our product or engaging in our desired behavior? Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular. So we need to make our ideas and products more public.

Principle 5: Practical Value

How can we craft content that seems useful? Given how people are inundated with information, we need to make our message stand out. We need to highlight the incredible value of what we offer, and package our knowledge and expertise so that people can easily pass it on.

Principle 6: Stories

What broader narrative can we wrap our idea in? People just don’t share information, they tell stories. We need to make our message so integral to the narrative that people can’t tell the story without it.

Jonah Berger, Contagious: Why Things Catch On

A NEXT STEP

The six principles of contagiousness listed above contain Social Currency and are Triggered, Emotional, Public, Practically Valuable, and should be wrapped in Stories. Enhancing these components in messages, products, or ideas will make them more likely to spread and become popular.

While it is convenient to imagine the six steps as the acronym STEPPS, don’t think of them as a “recipe” that has to be followed precisely. Not all six ingredients are required to make an idea contagious. View them more like toppings for a salad: choose what works for you, fits your situation, and you will still have a good result.

Write the following on the top of six chart tablets, one principle per page, allowing plenty of space for notes.

Principle 1: Social Currency

How can we talk about our church in such a way that unchurched people desire to be connected?

Principle 2: Triggers

What community triggers have we created to raise our visibility? How can we share the gospel in ways that trigger engagement?

Principle 3: Emotion

What messages are we sending that connect people emotionally?

Principle 4: Public

How can people see when others are excited about what God is doing? How are we leveraging sharable media?

Principle 5: Practical Value

What gospel content have we created that is useful to people outside of the church?

Principle 6: Stories

What larger cultural context exists in our community? How are we communicating the gospel as the solution?

Set aside a two-hour brainstorming time with your leadership team, and work through each of the questions listed.

After working through all six questions, go back and highlight the top three ideas or actions the group agrees are most important.

Create a cross-functional work group, bringing in other leaders and church members as appropriate, to take the resulting 18 ideas and actions and create an action plan with timetables and responsibilities.

As each idea or action is completed, evaluate its effectiveness and adjust as needed.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 83-1, issued January 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

 

Advertisements

Share Your Vision by Leading Down the Inspiration Pathway

Never static, vision is always evolving. Like a sequence of smaller mountains that give view to larger mountains on reaching the summit, today’s new accomplishments give view to tomorrow’s possibilities.

Vision is a living language: a treasure chest of phrases, ideas, metaphors, and stories. The beauty of a treasure chest like this is that your whole team can put words and dreams into it, and the entire leadership can pick ideas and stories out of it.

What does your vision treasure chest contain? Does it need some more loot inside in order for you to articulate your vision in powerful and captivating ways?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Inspiration Code by Kristi Hedges

Great leaders inspire action with their words. They spark enthusiasm and commitment. With a single conversation, they can change the direction of someone’s life.

Everyone wants to be the kind of leader who energizes and mobilizes others yet too few are. Why is it so challenging to crack the code?

Executive coach Kristi Hedges spent years studying exactly what inspiring leaders do differently. Informed by quantitative research and thousands of responses from leaders at all levels, she reveals that inspiring communication isn’t about grand gestures. Instead, those who motivate us most do a few things routinely, consistently, and intentionally.

Eye opening and accessible, The Inspiration Code dispels common myths about how leaders communicate and guides them in cultivating qualities that authentically excite.

Inspired companies need inspirational leaders. Learn to unlock motivation, lift people’s’ sights, and lead them into the future.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Lead Down the Inspiration Pathway

A vision should never be designed to be read. What would have happened to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech if he made it a PowerPoint presentation, or decided to just send out flyers?

People do not follow words – they follow you!

The vision cannot be separated from the vision caster, and the vision caster cannot separate his message from his life as a model.

Communicating your vision with clarity and inspiration can be accomplished, but you’ve got to move – you need to lead others down the inspiration pathway.

Inspiration Pathway conversations happen when we communicate in a way that is present, personal, passionate, and purposeful. These four factors greatly enhance our inspirational effect.

I call this model a “path” because it’s a passage with movement, both for the one inspiring and the one being inspired.

When we are inspiring, we are:

Present: We’re focused on the person in front of us, not distracted by the swirl of day, visibly stressed, or beholden to our agenda. We keep an open mind and let conversations flow. People who inspire us are both physically and mentally available to us. They focus on us. They give us the gift of time, and just as important, the gift of their attention.

Personal: We’re authentic and real, and listen generously. We notice what’s true about others and help them find their potential. Authenticity seems to fly in the face of the impassiveness we’ve been trained to adopt at work. But people look to you to see how much you care, and this shapes how much they will care.

Passionate: We infuse energy, and manage this as one of our greatest tools. We blend logic and emotion, and show conviction through our presence. People who are passionate enthusiasts for what they do create passion in others.

Purposeful: We are intentional. We are willing to serve as role models and engage in courageous discussions about purpose. A purpose that ignites us is personal. It’s less about a vision outside of us, and more about the vision we possess inside. Helping someone find that internal spark of purpose, or reignite it, is a transformational act.

Kristi Hedges, The Inspiration Code

A NEXT STEP

In order to lead others down the inspiration pathway, you will need to prepare yourself first. Calendar your next visionary presentation; it could even be your message this Sunday! Set aside two-three hours in an off-site location, get comfortable, and work through the author’s four elements of inspiration by thinking through and implementing the following:

Present

  • When we give another person our full attention versus our divided attention, the conversation changes. To be fully present to the conversation, eliminate distractions, use a reflective pause, get curious, and show receptive body language.
  • When we’re in a state of overwhelm, we’re not inspiring anyone. People’s natural instinct is to distance themselves from someone who seems frenetic. Challenge your current assumptions before jumping to try new strategies.
  • We can’t open someone else’s mind if ours is closed. When you cultivate an open mind, we create a learning space that allows others to expand their own thinking.

Personal

  • Though counterintuitive, showing authenticity is something we can work on. We’re adaptively authentic, where we learn new behaviors and integrate them into our own way of being.
  • Inspiring corporate visions are conversations about potential on a large scale. They tell the organization that it can achieve more because it’s capable of being more.
  • Deep, focused listening is a key inspirational skill, but it’s harder than it looks. Most people focus on hearing rather than on understanding. It takes effort, but you can become a better listener by understanding the listening environment.

Passionate

  • Energy is a primary way that we convey passion. Energy is a tool we can harness and cultivate to great effect. To do so, first know what gives you energy about your message, sync that up with your audience, and display your passion verbally and nonverbally.
  • There is no passion without emotion, and any attempt to convey such comes across unconvincing or deceptive. Being strategic and authentic with our emotions in our communication helps us to inspire others.
  • To show conviction, focus on aligning your nonverbal behaviors with your words, and both with your intent. This helps your body and mind to work together to show up with clarity.

Purposeful

  • Having a purpose is linked to inspiration and intrinsic motivation. People are inspired by something, and when you engage others in purpose, you create the impetus.
  • To continually refresh your sense of purpose, inspire yourself by surrounding yourself with a personal board of advisors as role models, and by taking risks toward your purpose.
  • Courageous leadership requires clear choices, saying no to some opportunities to be able to say yes to others.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 85-2, released January 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

How to Communicate Your Vision: Create Stories that Reflect Experience

There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than an attractive, worthwhile, and achievable vision of the future, widely shared.

– Burt Nanus

The right vision for the future of an organization moves people to action, and because of their action, the organization evolves and makes process. Like a bicycle, an organization must continually move forward, or fall over. The role of vision in driving the organization forward is indispensable.

The vision’s power lies in its ability to grab the attention of those both inside and outside the organization and to focus that attention on a common dream – a sense of direction that both makes sense and provides direction.

To that end, your church’s vision cannot exist merely as words on a page or website, or in an impressive visual display in your church foyer.

Articulating your vision through consistent and powerful ideas is one of the toughest tasks of leadership.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, by Annette Simmons

Stories have tremendous power. They can persuade, promote empathy, and provoke action. Better than any other communication tool, stories explain who you are, what you want…and why it matters. In presentations, department meetings, over lunch any place you make a case for new customers, more business, or your next big idea you’ll have greater impact if you have a compelling story to relate.

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins will teach you to narrate personal experiences as well as borrowed stories in a way that demonstrates authenticity, builds emotional connections, inspires perseverance, and stimulates the imagination. Fully updated and more practical than ever, the second edition reveals how to use storytelling to:

  • Capture attention
  • Motivate listeners
  • Gain trust
  • Strengthen your argument
  • Sway decisions
  • Demonstrate authenticity and encourage transparency
  • Spark innovation
  • Manage uncertainty

Complete with examples, a proven storytelling process and techniques, innovative applications, and a new appendix on teaching storytelling, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins hands you the tools you need to get your message across and connect successfully with any audience.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Organizations run on numbers, facts, forecasts, and processes. If that sounds dull and unengaging, it’s because those factors are not what really drive our passion and desire to excel, to lead, or to sink our hearts and souls into the work we do. Ultimately, the kind of transformative results that can come only from enriched, passionate people depend on a distinctly human element – storytelling.

The power of even a simple story to affirm someone’s connection to your organization’s people, values, and vision can mean the difference between simple competence and fully realized ownership. Your stories help people feel more engaged and alive.

Story can be defined as a reimagined experience narrated with enough detail and feeling to cause your listener’s imaginations to experience it as real.

You are already telling stories about who you are, why you are here, and what you envision, value, teach, and think about. The problem is, you haven’t realized how much your stories matter. To help us pay attention, let’s look at the six kinds of stories we tell that lead to influence, imagination, and innovation.

Who-I-Am Stories

What qualities earn you the right to influence a particular person? Tell of a time, place, or event that provides evidence you have these qualities.

Why-I-Am-Here Stories

When someone assumes you are there to sell an idea that will cost him or her money, time, or resources, it immediately discredits your “facts” as biased.

Teaching Stories

Certain lessons are best learned from experience, and some lessons are learned over and over again. It’s better to tell a story that creates a shared experience.

Vision Stories

A worthy, exciting future story reframes present difficulties as “worth it.”

Value-in-Action Stories

Values are subjective. Hypothetical situations sound hypocritical.

I-Know-What-You-Are Thinking Stories

People like to stay safe. It is a trust-building surprise for you to share their secret suspicions in a story that first validates then dispels these objections without sounding defenseless.

When you turn your attention to the six kinds of stories, you will be more intentional in creating the kind of perceptions that achieve goals rather than reinforce problems.

Annette Simmons, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins

A NEXT STEP

People are starving for meaningful stories, while we are surrounded by impersonal messages dressed in bells and whistles that are story-ish but are not effective. People want to feel a human presence in your messages, to taste a trace of humanity that proves there is a “you” as sender. Learning how to tell personal stories teaches you how to deliver the sense of humanity in the messages you send.

Schedule some time where you can be alone to complete the following exercise.

Imagine you are stranded alone on a desert island. You have six slips of paper, a pencil, and six bottles. If you could communicate one thing by using each of the six story types listed above that would inspire your church for the future, what would it be and how would you say it?

Write each of the six “messages” on a separate sheet of paper, then roll them up to create scrolls. Insert each message in a separate bottle.

At your next team meeting, read each message aloud, and discuss it as a group.

Ask each team member to repeat the process on his or her own over the next month.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 84-1, issued January 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

> >Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

It’s Hard to Go Wrong When You Follow the Advice of Dr. Seuss

One of my greatest passions is reading.

I developed this passion at an early age, and have continued to strengthen it over the years. In addition to being my passion, reading is also an important part of my role as Vision Room Curator at Auxano. In that role, I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix every two weeks. SUMS Remix is a modified book summary in which I develop a solution to a common problem faced by church leaders from 3 different books. So, preparing SUMS Remix in 2018 alone means I have gone through over 100 leadership and organization development books to arrive at the 79 used in producing 26 issues this year.

Other parts of my role requires reading current trends books, used for social media posting and content writing.

Then there’s my passion area of Guest Experience, in which I am constantly researching customer service books for application for churches. I’m building The Essential Guest Experience Library.

And, as many readers know, I am a Disney Fanatic – which extends to building a Disney library, currently over 300 volumes and growing!

Finally, there’s just the pure pleasure of reading – an almost nightly hour or two in the late evening reading a wide range of books, both brand new and classics, fiction and nonfiction.

Add those 5 categories all together, and by the end of 2018 I will have “read” 191 books, pretty much following the advice of Dr. Seuss:

First, a disclaimer: I did not read all 191 cover to cover. With such an immense (and pleasurable) task in front of me, and knowing there is more to my job than reading, I have to resort to some method of finding out what an author is trying to say without reading the whole book. There’s a few dozen of that total in which I only read the “highlights,” following the methods below.

Here’s how I did it – and, of course it starts with a book!

How to Read a Book

Literally – that’s the name of a classic book by Mortimer Adler.  The first lesson of reading is to learn that you don’t need to “read” each book the same way. Here are Adler’s 4 levels of reading:

  • Elementary Reading – What does the book say?
  • Inspectional Reading – What is the book about?
  • Analytical Reading – What does the book mean?
  • Syntopical Reading – What does a comparison of books on the subject reveal?

Some books are only meant to be read at the first level; others are meant to be digested at some of the other levels. Know which is which!

To get the most out of a book in the least amount of time, try this strategy:

  • Read the title.
  • Read the introduction
  • Read the Table of Contents
  • Flip through the material, scanning the chapter titles and subheadings. Note the words that stand out as bold, different colors, underlined, or italicized.
  • Examine the illustrations, captions, charts and diagrams. Read the pull-quotes and sidebars.
  • Scan through the index looking for buzz words that interest you.
  • Read the first chapter.
  • Flip through the book and read the first sentence of each paragraph in each chapter. In a well written and edited book, the most important sentence containing the topic is usually the first sentence of the paragraph — but not always.
  • Read the last chapter. If there is an executive summary, read it.
  • Read any other information on the cover or dust jacket.

If the book captures your attention after doing the above tasks, then by all means dive right in!

The converse is true: if a book doesn’t capture your attention after a few attempts, stop reading it. Pick out another one on the topic – there are always more waiting for you!

With that caveat in mind, my “cover-to-cover” reading for 2018 was 127 books.

For the curious, like picking your favorite child (I have four), I don’t typically make a “Best of” list for the year. I find some value in almost every book I read, and for me, that’s good enough.

While the knowledge gained from reading is important, the real benefit is from the habit of reading. When you are continually reading, you condition your mind to keep taking in new knowledge. Your thinking remains fresh and sharp. Your brain is always churning on new ideas, looking for new connections it can make. Every day you pour in more ideas, which your brain must find a way to integrate into your existing knowledge base. Frequent reading fires up your neural activity, even during the periods when you aren’t reading.

Reading is a gift that you can unselfishly give yourself, one that truly keeps on giving. Why don’t you bless yourself and those around you by reading a new book in the first weeks of 2019, and sharing its wisdom with others?

Me? Well, I’m visiting one of my favorite bookstores tomorrow, I’ve got three books lined up for delivery via Amazon by the end of next week, and I’m headed to the library today to pick up another couple on reserve.

After all, you can’t read all day…

…if you don’t start in the morning!

 

 

Getting Your Ideas Off the Ground: 7 Lessons from the Wright Brothers

On December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Flyer became generally accepted as the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard. 

Looking back over these 115 years from a personal viewpoint:

  • In 1903, my grandmother was 5 years old.
  • In 1953, my parents were married.
  • In 2003, the second of my four children began college.
  • Today, in 2018, all 14 of my immediate family have traveled by airplane. My Air Force grandkids, even at 5 and 8, have more frequent flyer miles than I do.

In the lifetime of my extended family, “flying” has come from non-existent to a routine afterthought.

The principles of flying even extend beyond our earth, to travel in space.

How did two men, in 1903, working essentially alone and with little formal scientific training, solve a problem so complex and demanding as heavier-than-air flight, which had defied better-known experimenters for centuries?

Certainly the brothers were talented, but the true answer also lies in their background and early experiences.

With no education beyond public schools, how did the the Wright brothers get past numerous obstacles the world’s other scientists hadn’t even begun to tackle?

In 2003, on the 100th anniversary of the first flight, Mark Eppler published The Wright Way, defining seven essential problem-solving principles the brothers used in accomplishing this enormous feat.

  • A passion for knowledge and information
  • An ability to argue through tough issues in search of truth
  • An ability to identify the hardest part of a problem, and the discipline to begin there
  • A talent for tactile and conceptual tinkering
  • An ability to conceptualize new (often radical) ideas, and the courage to consider them
  • A penchant for method and meticulous attention to detail
  • An ability to create infinitely more together than they could by themselves

On today’s 115th anniversary of the flight at Kitty Hawk, leaders should look at the above list and apply them to problems they are facing.

Applying these principles might just help you get your ideas “off the ground.”

For additional information about the fascinating story of the Wright Brothers, here are four great books I recommend:

 

 

 

How to Communicate with Intentionality by Clarifying Your Message

“Scrambling to keep up and looking for ways to get their message heard, churches are creating more videos, designing more logos, printing more inserts, sending more emails, launching new apps and websites, posting more social media updates, and trying to write lots of captivating content.”

“Here’s what happens. The people they are trying to reach move further away just to survive the onslaught.”

The above paragraphs resonate from the introductory pages of Kem Meyer’s book “Less Chaos. Less Noise.” These words become a powerful reminder that today’s church faces a culture in which the difficulty of connecting with people has become an ever-changing proposition.

Every day, your church stewards thousands of moments of truth. Every time a member talks to a neighbor, someone drives by the church facility, a ministry e-mail goes out, a pastor’s business card is left on a desk, some interaction on behalf of the church has transpired. Every time these events happen, the church’s vision glows brighter or dims in the tiniest little increments.

The visionary leader cares too much about the message to let it just blow in the wind, unattended. Church leaders must be bold and relevant as they integrate vision into the all aspects of church communication. This can happen only with a tremendous amount of intentionality in the complex discipline of church communications.

 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides readers with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services.

Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media.

Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Clarify your message

What is clarity really about? A synthesis of definitions brings clarity to the concept of clarity: it means being free from anything that obscures, blocks, pollutes, or darkens.

Being clear as a leader means being simple, understandable, and exact.

The leader helps others see and understand reality better. Leaders constantly bring the most important things to light: current reality and future possibility, what God says about it, and what we need to do about it.

Unfortunately, there is often a gap between the leader’s words and how followers receive the leader’s words. Like a dropped cell call, this is caused by various sources of disconnection and static between people, even if the leader is communicating clearly.

Like the bars that indicate signal strength on a cell phone, every leader has signal strength levels that distinguish perceiving, thinking, and communicating with others.

The effective leader must spend extra time bridging the gaps by practicing clarity with words.

Words sell things. And if we haven’t clarified our message, our customers won’t listen.

Nobody will listen to you if your message isn’t clear, no matter how expensive your marketing material may be.

Your customers have questions burning inside them, and if we aren’t answering those questions, they’ll move on to another brand. If we haven’t identified what our customer wants, what problem we are helping them solve, and what life will look like after they engage our products and services, we can forget about thriving.

What we think we are saying to our customers and what our customers actually hear are two different things. And customers make buying decisions not based on what we say but on what they hear.

We need a filter to minimize the noise. The essence of branding is to create simple, relevant messages we can repeat over and over so that we “brand” ourselves into the public consciousness.

Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand

A NEXT STEP

Stories move us. They engage us. They inspire us. Stories give us examples of how to act – and how not to act. The best ones stay with us forever.

To clarify your message using stories, it will be helpful to follow the formula that author Donald Miller uses in his book Building a StoryBrand. Purchasers of the book will receive free access to an online tool, the StoryBrand BrandScript.

While you will not be able to use the powerful techniques in this brief overview, you can at least get an idea of how those techniques might be used in your setting.

Here is an overview:

Nearly every story you see or hear can be outlined as: A CHARACTER who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE steps into their lives, gives them a PLAN, and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action helps them avoid FAILURE and ends in SUCCESS.

In a team discussion, write the key words from the above statement down the left side of a chart tablet.

  • Character
  • Problem
  • Guide
  • Plan
  • Calls them to action
  • Failure
  • Success

Brainstorm the successful transformation you’re helping the average church member achieve by writing out ideas for each of the categories listed.

Discuss among your team how you can use the StoryBrand principles to clarify your church’s message through the telling of stories.

Every human being is already speaking the language of story, so when you begin using a story framework, you’ll finally be speaking their language.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 81-1, issued December 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

> >Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

If You Think Reading is Boring, You’re Doing It Wrong

They may be hand-drawn animation, or computer-generated imagery, or even real actors in a stage play or musical.

Whatever the media, there’s a powerful story – and life lessons – in Beauty and the Beast.

To Gaston, a book with no pictures might as well have blank pages.

To Belle, a good story doesn’t need pictures to be understood.

 

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.

– Confucius

 

Coming Soon: 2018 End-of-the-Year Reading Wrap Up