Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Marketing for the Almighty

One of my clients asked me about the work he knows I do with my church. He was interested in the types of marketing activities we use to spread the word about the church. Now, marketing and churches might only seem to go together when talking about the so-called mega-churches but in fact it’s a critical factor for the ongoing existence of every small church. Small businesses and small churches are very much alike.

First, let’s consider the similarities of small businesses and churches. Each operates on a tight budget for finances and other resources. People need to wear many hats and perform a variety of necessary work. If people don’t know about your business or your church chances are they won’t patronize it. If you aren’t visible in your community no one will know you exist. This is true whether your community is a store front (or church front) on Main Street or an online community representing a specialized niche. Then, there’s the survival factor. Many small businesses fail, and churches are susceptible to all the same challenges of cashflow, too few customers, inability to attract good employees (or volunteers), and changes in demographics and the marketplace.

The magic of marketing is that all those problems can be greatly improved by the application of good marketing principles. They work regardless of whether your organization is a for-profit or a not-for-profit concern.

Here are some of the marketing techniques we have applied at our church and some of the results we have been able to achieve:

1. Newsletter—Ours is written by a talented little church mouse named Perley. We use a simple form for people to fill out so people can sign up. Subscribers become close personal friends of Perley who gives them advance notice of our events and suppers.

2. Press releases—Our local newspaper has printed every single press release we have sent them—church suppers, work being done on the church, fundraising efforts, concerts, publicity for our church cookbook, photos. We know the paper and what they like and we give it to them.

3. Church Cookbook—Not only is this a great collection of recipes, it’s a marketing piece for our church as well. It tells our story and lets people get comfortable with who we are as a church. It’s also fun.

4. Church Suppers—Not only is this a fundraiser but it gives people a non-threatening introduction to our church—way less scary than walking in cold on a Sunday morning. So again, it’s marketing.

5. Friendly ambassadors—Small churches (and small businesses) grow because of relationships. Our church members all seem to be involved in other activities in the community, and while they don’t shove their religion down anyone’s throats, they serve as ambassadors through their service and caring.

These are just a few marketing techniques that we have in place. We’ve been doing this consistently for a little over two years. Here are some of the results:

1. When people asked about our church, they used say, “Is that church still open?” Now they say, “Oh, that’s the church that’s always in the paper.”

2. Our suppers are sold out in advance every time and we raised the price of admission so we make more each time.

3. We’ve raised enough funds (in an area that is definitely not affluent) to put in a septic system, indoor plumbing, and next month we’re putting a new roof on our historic church building. All things our small congregation could never have afforded to do on its own.

4. Our congregation has tripled. Weekly offerings actually exceed the day to day cost of running the church.

5. Our loyal workers feel appreciated and valued.

6. Our visibility in the community has allowed us to fulfill our mission of helping others.

We’ve done all this and more by simply applying good marketing techniques in a consistent way. Regardless what type of business you have marketing just plain works. Whether you’re trying to build your own business or help your local library or animal shelter raise funds, marketing is the most powerful asset you can have. Of course, having an “in” with the Almighty doesn’t hurt either!

Until next time,

Caroline Jordan
Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.
The Jordan Result

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Grocery Store Satisfies a Big Hunger

The big excitement in my area this month has been the grand opening of a Hannaford grocery story. For many larger towns and cities, a new grocery store is not that big a deal. It would barely cause a blip on the interest screen. But here, it’s big with a capital B.

Why such a big deal? At one point in time the town had as many as five grocery stores. That worked out to about one grocery store for every 500 year round residents. Retirement, acquisitions, and business shut downs left the town with only one grocery store. In typical small town small business fashion, the store was inadequate to meet the needs of the population. The store was small and cramped. The prices were high. The service was uninspired at best.

As the population increased, the need for a good grocery store increased as well. Residents routinely drove 20-40 minutes to other towns to shop at Hannaford or Shaw’s for better variety and lower prices. We would end up spending a half a day just to get the weekly grocery shopping done.

Rumors have flown around for years that Hannaford was coming to town. Finally, last year everything fell into place. A suitable site was found, permissions were granted, ground was broken. All winter long we’ve watched the progress as the store was constructed, signs went up, help was hired, and delivery trucks unloaded.

At long last, the much anticipated grand opening was held. Townspeople turned up in droves, filling the parking lot, crowding the aisles, and filling the registers. It was truly the talk of the town. I have never seen such a warm welcome for a new business as the one displayed for Hannaford. People are gushing about it. People were rushing over to the grocery store on the slightest whim—Oops! I need more paprika. Darn! Forgot to get an onion. Golly, I’ve got a hankering for….something.

Why has this grand opening been such a success? It is a simple business premise. Find a hungry market and give it what it wants. Our town has had an unsatisfied hunger for a good grocery store for years. Finally, that hunger has been fed.

Had the new store been a clothing store or a hardware store it would have been nice but it is doubtful the world would have beaten a path to the door. The hunger just isn’t there. Hannaford had an easy job of selling the town on a new grocery store because everyone wanted it to happen. They had an easy job of selling the citizens on coming to the store because everyone was already in the parking lot waiting anxiously for the store to open its doors. That’s the kind of selling job we all would like to have. And it’s the kind we get when we take the time to understand what our market is really looking for—in our case the market was looking for….a market—the kind with cabbages and crackers!

Until next time,
Caroline Jordan

Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.
The Jordan Result

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What My 5th Grade Teacher Taught Me

When I was in the fifth grade I had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Sanborn. She was one of the shining examples of what a teacher should be…encouraging, supportive, caring, and fun. And she was the best reader of stories I ever knew. She read us “A Wrinkle in Time” and used different voices for each of the characters so well that she kept a room full of ten year olds entranced and hanging on her every word.

Mrs. Sanborn told us a story once upon a time…Her son had been sick with some sort of infection. The doctor put him on an antibiotic. When the young boy began feeling better, Mrs. Sanborn stopped giving him the antibiotic. The infection returned. The doctor lectured Mrs. Sanborn and told her that her son needed to finish the full course of the antibiotic to completely kill all the infection. He said to her, “I don’t care if the boy is sick, well, or dead, he needs to take all the medication!”

Mrs. Sanborn turned this into a teaching lesson for the generations of students who entered her classroom. She would say, “Sick, well, or dead, you need to get your homework done.” “Sick, well, or dead, your project needs to be finished by Friday.” She even abbreviated when she wrote a due date on the board, “SWD”, and we all knew just what she meant.

What Mrs. Sanborn was really teaching us about was integrity. We didn’t know it at the time because like many teachers she sort of snuck that by us and lodged it in our subconscious. Teachers are tricky that way. She was teaching us that when you make a commitment to someone, you need to follow through “sick, well, or dead”.

Such is the case when you promise subscribers to your newsletter that they will receive a weekly Ezine of valuable tips and strategies to help them become more successful in their business endeavors. They entrust you with their email addresses in exchange for valuable information. It is a contract, pure and simple.

Sometimes, in the course of human events (like excessive demands of running a business) you lose sight of some of those commitments and contracts. You forget to kiss your spouse goodbye. You neglect to call your mother. Your dog turns big brown eyes to you and sighs because you forgot to play with him today. Or, you neglect to write your Ezine because you’re swamped with work. But, the bottom line is this: you made a promise and sick, well, or dead you need to keep your word.

So, here is my renewed pledge to all of my valued subscribers:

Sick, well, or dead, you will see me in your inbox every Wednesday with tips and strategies to help you create a more successful business.

(Note: If you don’t see me in your inbox, it means your s-p-a-m filter kicked me out, but my ezines can always be found on my blog at www.TheJordanResult.com.)

Until next time,
Caroline Jordan

Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.

I'm Not Responsible for This!

I have been hard at work on a consulting job with a company that is larger than my usual client. They still meet the criteria for a small business but they are big enough to have more of a corporate feel in their offices.

One word I have heard over and over again in their offices is “responsibility”. As in “Don’t worry, you’re not responsible for that.” And, “I’ll take responsibility for that.” And, “These are your areas of responsibility.”

As the owner of a small business, the whole “Responsibility Thing” really cracks me up. Imagine only being “responsible” for bits and pieces of your business:

“I’m only responsible for marketing.”
“I’m only responsible for production.”
“I’m only responsible for accounting.”

Ah, how much easier life would be. I could sit back and say, “Someone should do something about…”

I wonder if when someone is asked to handle something outside of their usual “responsibility” core, how uncomfortable that must be. The thought of being “responsible” for everything could easily overwhelm many people. Corporations are good at providing a snug cocoon for employees keeping them comfortable and safe from having too much responsibility.

Of course, the flip side of the coin is that being self employed means we’re responsible for every aspect of the business regardless of our comfort level. We have to constantly learn new skills and continuously improve how we do what we do. It’s a “responsibility” none of us can take lightly. There is simply too much on the line. And that mantle of responsibility can rest pretty heavy on the shoulders much of the time.

But when all is said and done, at the end of the day, I would still rather be the captain of a row boat than only be “responsible” for one oar on a slave galley.

Until next time,

Caroline Jordan
Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.