A few days ago Seth Godin blogged another gem.
I want to post his blog and add some comments that will be relevant to a church environment. My comments will be the bullet points. (Oh, and I’ve also bolded some of the “stick out” lines in his blog post)
But of course, you’re not.
And this is the most important component of strategic marketing: we’re not our customer.
- “We’re not our customer.” The customer of the church is the person who is not there yet! Our mission is to connect people to Jesus, and we must start where they are! Our church must not ask, “What do we like/want?” Instead, we must ask, “What do they like/want?” And then, as much as possible create that kind of environment!
Empathy isn’t dictated to us by a focus group or a statistical analysis. Empathy is the powerful (and rare) ability to imagine what motivates someone else to act.
- Thinking things like, “Why don’t they want to come to church on Sunday?” or “Why don’t they believe in Jesus?” or “Why don’t they want to be a Christian?” or “Why don’t they believe the Bible?” And then trying to imagine how they would answer those questions. Better yet… ask them those questions and LISTEN to how they answer… then ask some more questions!
When a politician or a pundit vilifies someone for her actions, he’s missed the point, because all he can do is imagine what he would do in that situation, completely avoiding an opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes, to try on a new worldview, to attempt to imagine the circumstances that would lead to any action other than the one he would take.
When a teacher can’t see why a student is stuck, or when an interface designer dismisses the 12% of the users who can’t find the ‘off’ switch… we’re seeing a failure of empathy, not a flaw in the user base.
When we call a prospect stupid for not choosing us, when we resort to blunt promotional tactics to get attention we could have earned with a more graceful approach–these are the symptoms that we’ve forgotten how to be empathetic.
- “we’ve forgotten how to be empathetic.” A problem that Christians face is that the longer we are Christians the less we remember about our pre-Christ life AND the fewer non-Christian friends we have! We move into a Christian bubble and before long all we know, do, listen to and watch is Christian! We’ve forgotten how to be empathetic!
- The best cure for this is to become friends with people who are not like you! People who don’t look, think, or believe like you do!
- BTW, marketers aren’t the only ones who call people “stupid” for not agreeing with or choosing them.
You don’t have to wear panty hose to be a great brand manager at L’eggs, nor do you need to be unemployed to work on a task force on getting people back to work. What is required, though, is a persistent effort to understand how other people see the world, and to care about it.
- Oh that last line grabs me! “To care about it!” I think followers of Jesus will influence and connect with a lot more people if we will stop talking, start listening, and really begin to care about what is being said rather than anxiously waiting til the other person is done speaking so we can give our spiel!
- And the crazy thing is that once we start listening and caring we open the door for people to ask questions. Remember that axiom, “People don’t care how much (or what) you know until they know how much you care?” A great way to show you care is to LISTEN and LEARN about the person/people you are trying to connect with!
A couple of challenges for you:
- Make it a point this week (or next week) to talk with someone who is different than you.
- Ask them lots of questions… and listen.
- Make some notes about what you learned during that conversation; see if any of your opinions are edited or confirmed and note why.