Worth watching

Peter Bowden of UU Planet sent me a link to a video of Seth Goodin talking to Google employees. Seth Goodin is the marketing guru who wrote the book Purple Cow. (I wrote about Purple Cow back on November 9, 2005.)

One of Goodin’s key points in the video lecture is that the whole landscape of marketing has changed in the past twenty years. It used to be that the way you did marketing was first to come up with a whole bunch of money. Then you took out as many ads as you could, trying to grab people’s attention to tell them about your product. When you made a profit, you poured that money back into advertising. Goodin calls this approach the “TV-Industiral Complex.”

But a new way to do marketing has emerged. First, you create “something worth talking about,” and “if you can’t do that, start over.” Next, you find people who want to hear from you, and you tell them about that “something worth talking about.” Then those people tell their friends about that “something worth talking about” — you don’t tell people about that something worth talking about and you don’t spend lots of ad dollars promoting yourself — you rely on enthusiastic users, not on ads, to tell others. Then there’s a last key step: get permission from those first people to tell them about whatever new things-worth-talking-about that you come up with.

Goodin’s second approach to marketing should be easy to use to spread the word about Unitarian Universalism. Unitarian Universalism is something worth talking about — it’s a religion that provides all the wonderful aspects of a warm religious community, but it’s also a religion where you don’t have to swallow unswallowable doctrines or creeds. We have something worth talking about, and Unitarian Universalists do tell their friends — “No, no, you have to check out my church, it’s this cool religious community where you don’t have to believe in God unless you want to.” Thus while other churches are losing members, Unitarian Universalism is slowly growing, because we Unitarian Universalists are willing to talk to our friends.

Now along comes the new marketing campaign from the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). The UUA is buying print ads in Time magazine, which is probably a waste of money, because the old marketing approach of spending lots of money on ads just doesn’t work any more. But the UUA also came out with a cool ten-minute video. It captures who we are — it captures that warm feeling you get when you go to your Unitarian Universalist church — it captures that lack of creed or dogma — it makes you feel good about being a Unitarian Universalist, so you want t o show it to your friends to help them understand who you are. You can get a DVD of the video to give to your friends so you can sit there and watch it with them — or you can tell your friends to watch it on YouTube.

Plus, without being heavy-handed, the video captures the cutting edge of who we are — we care about the environment, we welcome gays and lesbians, we have racially mixed churches (OK, maybe your church isn’t racially mixed, but ours here in New Bedford is, and yours could be someday soon). This new video is worth talking about! And some of us are already talking about the video, and showing it to our friends. And maybe — just maybe — we need to do lots more new media, because I suspect the future of our religion has to add a new-media component to our traditional face-to-face churches.

That what I got to thinking about as I watched the Seth Goodin video. There’s lots more food for thought there. Definitely worth watching. Link.