Sunday, July 31, 2005

Church marketing

Marketing bloggers love to highlight companies that communicate successfully. Companies that embrace a brand, tell a story, connect on a human level. Those conversations rarely include the effectiveness of large, marketing-savvy churches. That's right. Churches. Churches like Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, which not only just took over the Compaq Center but has a Web site and outreach initiative to rival strategies of the most innovative Chief Marketing Officers. My former church, Kansas City's Church of the Ressurection is one of the fastest growing churches in the country. COR's Reverend Adam Hamilton has even published a book on growing churches: Selling Swimsuits in the Arctic: Seven Simple Keys to Growing Churches. Sounds like one of the many popular marketing books out today.

If you strip away content, the way successful companies and churches communicate internally and externally is virtually the same. Growing churches and companies both understand and are capitalizing on their greatest asset: their people, whether consumers or congregations. While marketing pundits preach on building relationships with consumers, churches are doing it, and doing it well. And these churches are executing what many companies have yet to grasp: human conversations - real, honest interaction - are powerful conduits of a brand.

Churches are setting an example outside of the sanctuary, and though hardly as meaningful, the ways in which they are reaching their audiences is worth noting.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Business Week "gets creative!"

It was only a matter of time, after Fast Company released a string of articles on creativity, innovation and change and devoted an issue to design, that Business Week would jump on board. Unfortunately, at first glance - I have yet to read an article in full - BW looks dopey in comparison.

BW's shortcomings start on the cover: a campy cut-out-to-make-your-own-box design of the BW masthead, much like the paper boxes we used to cut out and make in elementary school (I believe Weekly Reader was the source for this concept). Open to the table of contents and you'll find the "Special Report" section reads like a regurgitated menu of ideas bloggers, FC and other sources have been developing and commenting on for the past six months. The premise for "getting creative!" (and yes, BW included an exclamation mark at the end of this phrase) is about as lifted from other ideas as it can be. Included are the requisite props to Apple, P&G, 3M, design-based thinking, etc...and an article even touts the change in relevance from Business Schools to "D-Schools." I believe we just read that article in Fast Company. The magazine smells of, "Oh crap, people are buying into this design-thinking stuff and we'd better print something fast."

I am sure this "Special Report" will include good learnings. I'll post on those as I read more, but I'll have a hard time getting past the fact that a magazine like Business Week dedicated a report and large section of its August issue to innovation, a word that seems completely unfit to describe BW's development of its August content.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Here’s to airplanes.

After six flights and as many airports I was delivered from a client event in Boston to a week-long vacation in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado and then back to reality (Kansas City). I love family vacations. I love them more as I get older and this particular vacation has been the light on my horizon for months. The cabin was rustic enough, yet had just the right amount of amenities to feel pampered and the right setting to truly feel part of the mountains. We had a hot tub on the rooftop deck, overlooking a vast vista of mountains and valleys. A creek on the side of the property.

My mornings began with breakfast outside, then a long run on dirt-packed roads and through the modest city of Green Mountain Falls – elevation 7,800 feet. We ran past the post office, the lone church, biker bar, café, and police office (currently unoccupied, waiting for the one position to be filled). My dad and I hoofed the hills and tried to acclimate to the altitude, then met my mother and sister for brunch. This morning routine forced me to do something I seem to have forgotten how to do: sit and enjoy the scenery. And I enjoyed it.

Afternoons were spent hiking or tooling around the town, with a requisite allotment of time for me write – in longhand. I was amazed by the transformation I had from months of not being able to write freely to an absolute outpouring of songs and story beginnings by the end of the trip. Writing makes up so much of my profession, but I had to leave that profession behind to be able to rediscover the craft and my ability to be part of it.

I found that relaxation can be the best muse. My head cleared more and more with each day, and with each day my creativity and enjoyment of that side of me grew. Pressure left, creation arrived. Stress evaporated and stories appeared with ease.

One of the last things I wrote, on the cabin porch, was a list of learnings, goals and action items for me. I was able to see myself with amazing clarity, analyzing my true needs, desires and interests for what they were: mine. I am looking forward to executing this list of to-dos, and creating a reality more in line with the one I found when I left my own.