Constitutive Rhetoric to Recruit Faith

Palm SundayWhile enjoying a particularly meaningful church service on this Palm Sunday, I had a bright moment of clarity that presented itself to me in almost tangible form. I did not see God, though. On the contrary, my realization is one that the pastor who was speaking and my parents would be a bit less thrilled with (though my Rhetoric professors at school would be pretty happy with me).

Speaking in generalities – something that I’ll admit can’t be done by someone trying to actually convince someone else of any kind of factual truth – the churches that I have always attended use inclusion and exclusion in their dialogue. Religious messages are often based on assumption that essentially works to recruit individuals to join the faith.

Example: these are all actual quotes copied from this morning’s service, given by Pastor Tom Stroup at Brockport Free Methodist Church. In bold are the portions of the sentences that were left in the sermon notes as blank lines, intended for the audience to fill in.

  • “Sometimes I think God has forgotten about me BUT God never forgets me!”
  • “Even when it seems life is hopeless, hope is what I have in Christ!”
  • “Caiphas would Kill Jesus to save Israel from Rome, BUT Jesus died to save us from our own sinfulness.

It’s subtle, but do you see what they did, there?

Churches frequently use words like I, WE, and US to formulate an in-group and out-group. The in-group are those that believe in God, have hope in Christ, etc. The out-group, obviously, are those that do not. If you had attended church this morning at BFMC, you never had the chance to decide which of those groups you belonged to. They actually decided for you. Even more – you wrote the words on the blanks, participating in the process.

It’s a fallacy of assumption, and it works.

Let’s brainstorm a few individuals who could have been in the pews this morning.

  • A child too young to completely understand religion, too young to have made any of his or her own decisions in regard to what he or she believes in.
  • A recovering alcoholic who was urged to pick a church and find God by a friend of his that goes to his Alcoholics Anonymous classes.
  • An atheist who believes in seeing both sides of an issue and therefore attends different churches from time to time.

Would we consider any of those individuals to be part of the in-group? I would not.

This is the point in the blog post at which I need to give readers notice of two things:

  1. Though it may seem like I am writing in a tone of disapproval of this inclusive language and rhetorical technique, that is not true.
  2. This is a Marketing blog. Occasionally, I am inspired to write things that are more religious, political, or cultural in nature, and when I do I usually have them posted on Trova101 (Thanks, Mark Trova!). This one, though, is here on Millennial’s Marketing. That’s because there is some marketing insight quickly approaching.

Not to take any sanctity out of religion, but… by engaging in this practice, churches are only  tapping into widely used marketing techniques.

In the fields of persuasion, like advertising and public relations, marketers are selling something. It might be an ideology, a product, a service, a human-being, or a cause, but they are selling something just the same. When you tell someone something about them-self, it is only a matter of time until they begin to believe it and use it to construct their own identity. I believe that participation in the message itself only accelerates that process, which can be seen in this morning’s church example. The equivalent, in marketing rather than religion, are social media channels.

Don DraperDon Draper once famously said, “People want to be told what to do so badly that they will listen to anyone.” Is your church and religion as a whole led by an incredibly faithful individual, or an expert marketer?

Probably both.

 

 

Buffalo Bills use a great Facebook Cover Photo… at least for now.

Since the introduction of Facebook’s Timeline, one of the more eye-catching changes is the addition of the Cover Photo. After all, it’s a lot of space, and it’s at the top of a given page. In other words, prime real estate!

If you’re anything like me, you have wondered why marketers haven’t used that space more to their advantage. I mean, sure, I’ve seen some great graphics, representative images, and things of the nature.

But I’ve never seen a page use the Cover Photo in more of a content-laden way. No special deals or offers, no contests for fans, and no real calls to action.

Today, I stumbled upon the reason I haven’t seen enough of this:

These are some of the regulations that Facebook places on Cover Photos.

And so, you can imagine my amusement when I came across the Facebook page of my favorite NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, and saw this:

Buffalo Bills' Facebook Cover Photo

I see regular updates from the Buffalo Bills on Facebook, and they’re pretty good social marketers, from what I can tell. Therefore, I’m not sure whether or not this is a mistake and oversight on their part, or if they are just challenging Facebook’s policing efforts.

Regardless, I’m very interested to see how long that Cover Photo lasts under the watch of Zuckerberg & Co.!

Have you seen any other Cover Photos that don’t follow official guidelines?

LPGA is getting social in Pittsford, NY

For the first time, LPGA players will display their Twitter handles on prime real estate:

their caddies. 

Best of all, this is happening in Pittsford, NY, not far from home for me!

Once again I will say it: the Social Revolution is upon us!

What do you think? Is this a good idea for the LPGA?

Down with the King! … And the rest of the company.

I have to be honest for a second. Burger King’s entire strategy when it comes to marketing  has always really bothered me. It seems like this company repeatedly makes very questionable decisions.

 

Remember this thing?

Burger King used this King mascot from 2003 to 2011, and it was featured in plenty of ads.

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How Starbucks builds loyal customers

Have you ever noticed that people are really loyal to their favorite coffee brand? Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Horton’s, or Starbucks… some people get completely offended at the thought of drinking coffee that isn’t their preference.

I’m one of them! I love Starbucks, and my Twitter bio even says so. But what’s really weird is that in a taste test, I probably couldn’t tell the difference. So what makes Starbucks so much better, in my opinion?

Starbucks is a Millennial business

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