One Common Reason Why Your Marketing Will Fail

Steve Fogg —  April 27, 2012 — 8 Comments

I’ve seen this mistake happen too many times. Anyone and everyone is vulnerable.

Businesses. Non-profits. Churches. We can all fall into this trap.

It’s a mistake that is so obvious, so easy to avoid that you’d think by now, no one could ever be so stupid to let it happen, yet it does. 

I remember being in a meeting with someone. The meeting was wrapping up, I remember we were agreeing on the next steps forward. But everything inside of me was screaming that the other person wasn’t really happy. It was like they were saying one thing and sending me this subliminal ‘signal’ which was screaming the complete opposite. Fortunately I had a good relationship with this colleague and I felt comfortable enough to raise this with them. They admitted to me that they weren’t happy with where we were going.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they’ve sent you a conflicting signal that is completely at odds with what they are saying?

We all send signals when we interact with others. What someone might be talking about with you may be completely different to the other signals they are sending are sending you. You may know of some of the more obvious types with body language where you know exactly how people are feeling. For example, folding arms and legs means that you are closed or aggressive. Constant flicking of the hair, means that you are attracted to the person you are talking to. Holding your chin, or excessive blinking – can be a sign of someone lying.

It’s not just people who send out signals to those they are interacting with. Churches, non-profits and businesses also send out signals that can be totally incongruous with the actual message that they think they are communicating.

Here are some conflicting messages that churches for example can send out.

You may say ‘We’re not after your money.’ But you’ll ask you for it at least 3 times.

‘We’re here for you.’ But your staffing choices means doesn’t have anyone that can help someone on that day. Or when the staff person is talking to you they are constantly looking over your shoulder at people as they walk by and acknowledging them.

‘We are a community full of real people’. We only talk about issues you’ve probably never heard of.

‘No perfect people allowed’ But don’t stand out, look different, swear, smoke, drink beer, dress differently because you’ll get looks. We’ll make you feel so uncomfortable you’ll never want to come again.

‘Visitors welcome!’ Then be lambasted by a parking attendent because you parked in the wrong spot. (Yes, I’ve seen that)

One concept we all have to grasp is to live out who we say we are and not send conflicting signals to the very people we want to reach.

Your turn

Have you ever been on the receiving end or seen any examples of conflicting signals? Comment below.



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8 responses to One Common Reason Why Your Marketing Will Fail

  1. Be who you say you are or say who you really are.

    What you point out here is truth, Steve. Many churches I work with want to be like some other church they know or have heard of. Don’t talk like them, don’t brand like them…because you are not them. You are you. God gives every church a unique culture and you should communicate that. Be genuine and that can only happen by being self aware.

    The problem is that most leadership teams are not very self aware of what and who their church really is and how that is “really” conveyed to the visitor.

    • Great thoughts David, I wonder how you can poke and prod leadership teams to become more self aware?

      • I think one way is very simple but takes intentionality. Leadership needs to “listen”. Leaders should never assume they know what is going on within their church or how their members really perceive the culture to be. It is not always the way you think…or hope it is.

        • Good stuff David, thanks! I also think it helps when you can forecast a failure and watch it unfold, advise, tell them what will happen, if nothing happens feed it back post and obvious stories of failure.

          When failure becomes real and people are impacted leaders suddenly become much more aware.

  2. You hit the nail on the head with this one, Steve. I have seen conflicting signals at every church I’ve gone to and every place I’ve worked at, especially my current job. We even went through an expensive rebranding project to correct the perception of the college, but it hasnt changed anything. If anything, it’s sent the message to students that a logo is more important than providing better service or more scholarships to help them succeed in school – one of the main slogans of the school,

    • Thanks Jason, Often people think branding will fix the problem (Like perception problems) when in the the solving the problem will only fix the problem.

      The best branding is an authentic interpretation of who the organisation is and does.

  3. I love it! It’s so good to hear real thoughts and feelings, and discussing how to better to portray church. Is it an organization, a marketing machine, or one body of God’s people? No matter where people sit in life, until we’re truthful, honest and caring, we’re going to keep distorting reality to each other. We’re in a world where we can easily loose harmony within our own mind and state of being, can we please start helping each other to find truth and love. God knows how gorgeous we all are, can we remind each other more?
    Is marketing truly speaking well of our strengths, while we can actually acknowledge our limitations, cause there’s the more opportunities.
    Jesus continued to shock and frustrate the Pharisees with his friendships with all different people. Know the value in everyone you meet. Know the words you speak are to line up with action and truth of heart or admit it. Oh and I’ll try to stop sounding preachy cause I’m a chick, and I’ll look out for who’s been offended and hurt, which can be easier off a platform, at least without a fight.

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