THe Real THing

By Russ Ward

Coca Cola has made a bit of a stir when it announced that it was changing the way they are going to be marketing their products. For decades it was largely an image campaign where the logo and slogans such as "The Real Thing" or "Things Go Better With Coke" inundated the market.  

They built product awareness with huge ad buys on billboards, in magazines and great product placement on grocery store shelves. They produced thirty seconds of the warm and fuzzy with TV ads such as "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony." All of this made Coca Cola seem and feel like a product that could add life or even create world peace, if only everyone could get their hands on an ice cold Coke. 

But times have changed and even mighty Coca Cola has had to alter its approach to keep up. They simply had to rethink their communication strategy, retool and relaunch. This does not mean that the product will change! That would lead to rebellion against the brand they have built, need I remind you of New Coke? However, the way they are going to communicate to potential customers will change; the change moving towards content marketing. So what does all of this have to do with the way your church communicates? Hopefully, a lot. 

At Speiro we have been recommending content marketing for churches as long as we have been in existence. It is one of the best tools Christians and churches have and it surpasses any content that can be created for a soft drink. Coke plans to use content in the following ways:

  1. They are using social media as a tool to spread the word.
  2. They are making sure that their content is "linked" to the goals of the company.
  3. They are hoping to create conversations about what they are doing and thinking.
  4. They will be using stories to enunciate their goals more effectively.
  5. They will be willing to invest on the edge.

Your church can use the above communication strategy to tell others about your body of believers and God. As we are to take the Gospel to others, shouldn't we use the best possible means to do that with? And content marketing is a perfect way to tell others about God and the church. 

  1. Social Media - All churches interested in reaching anyone younger than 60 years of age should be involved in using social media. We have to go where the world is and that means Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many others social sites. It is a great way to tell your community you are current and relevant.
  2. Linked Content - Your content should not be formless and without purpose. To properly communicate you must think about what you are saying and how you are saying it. Think deeply about your mission and vision. All of your communication needs to be filtered through your vision and mission before you post. Create content that says what you want it to say.
  3. Promote Conversation - Conversation means listening and then responding. In general, your friends and neighbors are completely unchurched. I recently came to this conclusion when a non-Christian kept quoting Leviticus to demonstrate hatred and unreasonable standards of God. Everything was out of context and without any general understanding. Remember when we are going to promote a conversation, it must be done in love and knowing where people are in their relationship with God.   
  4. Tell a Story - Everyone loves a story. It makes God real when people just like us have a similar experience. Churches cannot be afraid to tell others about God through the eyes of people just like us. Often times the world can get the feeling the church is filled with two types of people. People who are perfect and people who are hypocrites. They don't want to be a hypocrite and they know they aren't perfect so Christianity is not for them. We need to be more transparent in the right circumstances and tell that story. 
  5. Be on the Edge - We have got to be willing to take chances. That means saying things that might be controversial and going out on a limb. The church must be bold. One of the best responses I have ever had to an article was one written on whether a Christian should get a tattoo. My fellow elders were a bit apprehensive because of fear that it would offend people. All it did was generate interest, several comments and hopefully got people to think about things in a different way.

Lastly, I want everyone one to know that I understand that we are not peddling a soft drink. The Gospel is too important to even make the comparison, however what I am talking about is a communication strategy and being wise in the way we speak to the people we are called to reach. So, if you are bothered by my comparison...relax and "Have a Coke and Smile".