Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

Here's my webpage.  Click here to see what I am doing.  Don't click the link yet, let me communicate with you a bit first.  Some things...

This topic is so squeamish for some that they won't be able to read any further once they click the link and see that this conference is the 5th International Christian "Storytelling-in-Ministry" Conference.  For the sake of this discussion, I am talking "Identifying your target market."

So how did I choose it?  I didn't.

  • I didn't just "decide" to hold a conference.
    • This June 16 - 18, 2011 will be the 5th annual gathering of these people, it started as an unofficial "retreat" among 12 storytelling friends who all happened to be Christian, not one attended the same flavor of church.  Today, this still remains true, not an issue then, isn't an issue now.
    • I came into this group on the 3rd year that they met together, having passed up two previous moments of awareness about the gathering.  No one seemed to know what it was, so I passed.  Only after Mike Lockett invited me personally, did I accept.
    • Most of the people who have come to this gathering are not storytellers
    • Last year, the 4th year, 12 storytellers were outnumbered 16:1, our agenda was almost the same as the first year which was, bring a story, we will work on it together, coach each other and perhaps we'll have time for a conversation about "how to use storytelling in the church."  That first year the pro-storyteller to non-storyteller ratio, without advertisements was 4:1, the second year with an email notice, 8:1, third year, snail mail (1000) and email resulted in a ratio of 12:1.  So in a discussion afterwards, some comments among others that seemed remarkably like "What do you think is going on?" and "I don't know." and "Do you think we ought to try to do this on purpose?"  "Perhaps, G_d would like us to help His church communicate in a way that is personal and effective... like storytelling."
  • I was asked, along with my wife and Pam Holcomb to organize this year's conference in Georgetown, KY.  After careful thought, that lasted a week or so, we said yes.  
  • There are some historical drawbacks.
    • Even the teaching storytellers pay to go to this conference.  No Budget, zero.
    • The sponsoring organization is very small, The National Christian Storytelling Network.  To get a little history, watch the video on my webpage when you get to click the link.
    • The focus audience for this "market" is extremely narrow in the world... and very wide at the same time, there is a church on every other corner.  That's a lot of suspects.  Christian Ministry Leaders, Sunday School Teachers, Missionaries, Home School Parents, Rescue Shelter Operators, Church Administration Staff.  Think about it; who needs to communicate better with purpose than those in service to others?  Who has perhaps the most stigmatized & prejudged message?  Who has the biggest walls separating themselves from others in their similar communities?  I know the answers to those questions because I am a Christian.  I am not a saint nor sinless and I have only the very faintest of hopes to ever becoming a "good man."  I am not a pretty good man nor Moses returning from the burning bush.  I am not "self-righteous" actually I think my life is going to continue to require a lot of "GRACE."

Now would a great time to talk about the difference between

  • "Suspects," a list of people who fit your target description
  • "Prospects," the list of people who have responded to an offer for more information
  • "Clients," the list of people who have tried your product or service
  • "Repeat Clients," the list of people who have upgraded or purchased more
  • "Champions," the list of people who tell others and sell for you
I have evolved through all of these stages in regards to this gathering of people to talk about storytelling in the context of the Christian experience.  Yes, now I think I am a Champion, a promoter of the storytelling in church cause.  But who, if I may, has a more positive "actual message" than the hope offered not by the "church" but by the "Church."  The difference between the small "c" and the large "C" being only passion.  Please notice I didn't say anything about doctrines, traditions or theologies.  If you have been reading my newsletter, you know very well, I am really a guy who is very comfortable with himself and being outdoors.  If you've met me, I hope you can at least say "he ain't snooty."


Let's get something else straight.  One, I am not an expert on Marketing.  I started this group hoping to learn from others and I am learning just like everyone else in the world.  


TIME OUT; I just got up and went to my library and counted the books I own on Marketing, 26.  I have all of them but two, one of the two came in my mail today.  The other was so stupid in it's introduction that I set it down and haven't picked it up since.  I also get some pretty neat stuff online from Jeff Walker and Bob Baker, one an internet sale guru and the other a music business guru.  I do know some things about marketing, more now than before and I do have a suggestion for everyone to go out and spend some money on two things.  One, a paperback book called "Duct Tape Marketing" by John Jantsch.  Yes, I have mentioned it in the marketing group before today.  Let me tell you the other thing you need to spend your money on; software.  Not just any software, you need to buy, "Marketing Plan Pro ver. 11."   REALLY...  I'M NOT KIDDING.  JUST GO BUY IT.  


These two things brought everything that I have been reading about marketing into sharp focus.  Just to make my point clear, here is a definition from Robert D Hisrich's book entitled, "Marketing."  The actual definition takes up six, count them six pages.  Pithy sentences like; "Marketing is the performance of business to consumer to user."  Or try this one;  "Marketing is the process by which decisions are made in a totally interrelated changing business environment on all the activities that facilitate exchange in order that the targeted group of customers are satisfied and the defined objectives accomplished."  Well, why didn't you just say so?! Then, now that he is really warmed up, he launches into a four part definition, which covers the afore mentioned six page definition.

How does our boy John Jantsch handle the definition?  I am glad you asked.

"Marketing is getting people who  have a specific need or problem to know, like, and trust you."


So what's the plan?  First it is not built on Hope, even though I hear myself saying that all the time.  "I hope someone signs up, I hope I can get this right, I hope I am skilled enough to get the right attention from my "Suspects" enough to at least get them to become a "Prospect" and perhaps a "Client."  And who knows, maybe, those who come to the conference might become "Repeat Clients" at least that is what I hope.  No, I think I needed a plan.


So here it is in a nutshell.

  1. Identify your ideal client.
  2. Discover your core marketing message.  Think "The Real Thing," "Quality is Job One."  Ours?  "It's Communication, Not Performance"
  3. Wake up the senses to match your message.  Check out the website, view it from your senses and tell me what you think of the colors, sounds, videos, etc.
  4. Create products and services for every stage of Client Development.
  5. Produce marketing materials that educate.  (even this discussion forum counts)
  6. Build a website that works night and day.  Online subscriptions, information downloads, etc
  7. Get the entire team involved in marketing, use the same words, logo, cards, look, feel, you get what I mean
  8. Write ad copy that gets results.  (much harder than it looks)
  9. Turn your sales letter sideways.  Most sales letters are way too long.  What if you spread it out sideways and reveal a little more of it each day over a period of time?  Use direct marketing, snail mail, email, brochures strategically placed where you target goes.  Think of a hunter, putting out feed (value added information) in order to draw the prospect in...  Okay may that analogy breaks down a little.  But I think I made the point.  Don't count on one thing, use all of them, but have all of them pointed in the same direction at the same target.  Videos, emails, newsletters, postcards, posters (for bookstores), brochures, snail mail, flyers and radio ads and Facebook ads and Yahoo and AOL and don't forget Google.
  10. Earn Media attraction and "expert status." by continuing to be giving and offering value added information that people can actually use in their work.
  11. Deliberately, build a systematic referral machine.  Much more about this later.  But could you do me a favor, could you tell your Christian friends about this conference?  Could you send a note to anyone that might be interested in attending and just let them know what I am up to nowadays?
  12. Automate your marketing with technology tools.  Take a lesson from Dianne Del Las Casas. Back in the beginning, I was twelfth person to join Professional Storyteller, I am still blown away by how this community has grown.
  13. Turn Prospects into Clients and Clients into Partners with an advanced education system.  Here's some good books about that, "How to become a Rainmaker" Jeffery J Fox, also "Guerrilla Selling" by Orvel Ray Wilson, and "The Ask" by Laura Fredericks, and a cool book too... "The little red book of selling, 12.5 principles of Sales Greatness" by Jeffery Gittimer
  14. Commit to your marketing with a Plan, Budget, and a CALENDAR.
  15. One last thing for tonight, Check this really cool group of people on the web.   David Allen and his book "Getting Things Done."  Just Google it... he almost has a cult following.  But it is pretty good stuff.
Okay if you aren't dead or bored to clutching tissue paper, now click the link a the top of the page and see how I am doing using these 15 principles that John Jantsch has shared with me.

Tags: Buck, Conference, Creacy, Hope, Marketing, P, Storytelling

Views: 110


Replies to This Discussion

Typo alert.. I stated that I got up and went to count my books on Marketing, 26.  My typo was in the next sentence.  It should have read...  I have read all of them but two.  One came in the mail today and the other was too silly.
Tomorrow, maybe we can talk about connecting with the Media & using new media to promote your events.  And maybe Wednesday we can talk about, using "value added materials" to move people from Suspects to Prospects to Clients.  Well, talk back, what do you think?

Thanks, Buck. This could have made a really good blog entry, as well. Of course, you've got a captive audience here in the forum for feedback too.


I'm always interested in hearing about people attending (frontend participation) and planning (backstage work) conferences, festivals, &c. I will definitely send the website link to my mum & sister. Maybe one of their church communities would be interested in this.


And I love David Allen. Whenever I need some inspiration or I'm stuck in a rut for "getting things done" I go seek out him or another similar guru, Merlin Mann. They've got some really good advice and tips. Oh, have you ever run into <a href="">The Fluent Self</a>? She's quite inspirational too.

Think about all the $$ made by gospel, contempory Christian artists. "We" who are kinda in the same "business" as the MASTER teacher/storyteller are sometimes invited to tell for cheap.  Marketing makes the difference.  Jesus did it without marketing...we talkers need a lesson from Him!
I am not really wanting to begin a debate, just think about this... maybe Jesus DID use marketing.  Remember the definition of "marketing?"  "Getting people with a specific need or problem to know, like, and trust you."  The man who was possessed with a legion of demons?  Once he was delivered, clothed, and in his right mind, he begged Jesus to let him go with him as Jesus was entering the boat.  Jesus didn't allow him to go, instead he gave him a marketing mission, "stay here and tell everyone what the Lord has done for you."  When Jesus returned to the Gaderenes, the people recognized him and "thronged him bringing their sick and all that were possessed..."  On several occasions, Jesus things for the sake of the audience.  "My Father and I are one, I do these things; that you might believe."  Marketing, getting people with a specific need or problem to know, like and trust you.

I know that yesterday, I mentioned connecting with the market through media.  Check that until later.  Here's something else about identifying your market.

So part of the mission of Marketing is identifying your market.  Yesterday I talked about that at some length.  So the next part of marketing is deciding what is the specific need or problem that your market is facing.  If you look at the super huge churches, there seems to be no problem with resources.  Can't plan a building program, they just hire a project engineer.  But the real problem is developing leadership to fill the expanding need for teachers and Bible Class leaders, that will fill the rooms of that new building.  In the smaller churches, that problem may be as fundamental as inspiring a handful of 4th generation church goers who feel no compunction to add to their dwindling numbers.  

So I was pondering these things.  Ponder means taking more than a day to think about answering a question.  I travel a lot, so I get to wander into a lot of churches where no one knows me.  And when you look like I do... well you get to see the soft belly of the church if you know what I mean.  No one is quite certain I'm for real, and I don't look like I am bright enough to come in out of the rain and I stopped wearing a suit & tie to church sometime during the 90's.  My point is, people look at my surface and decide how much to invest in me.  

There is some truly awful preaching out there, poor speaking technique aside a lot of it is just awful for a thousand other reasons.  That's not my judgement, that's the expressions I read on the faces of the occupants of the pews and Sunday School Classes of some of these churches.  

Years ago we had Sunday School Conferences...  each denomination did.  They may still be around... but I haven't heard of them.  Hmmm  Still Pondering...

As storytellers we know about connecting with the audience... whoops... in this case... congregation.  Long before the light came on for me about the purpose of this conference; John Walsh was pondering the same thing.  He started the group, thinking that he was going to train Christian Storytellers to go out and train churches on storytelling skills.  The first three of these conferences were planned for storytellers.  That was the year that we tellers were outnumbered 12:1 and we realized that this conference isn't really for storytellers but for those in roles inside of various levels of church leadership.  


So the "Core Market" is established.  Who's the competition?  hmmm the horizon seems fairly clear.  Still pondering.

Tomorrow, I will talk about the "Talking Logo" and it's role in promotions in all of the media outlets that I can think about.  

"It's Communication, not Performance."



Is anybody still interested?



Sure I am not marketing to churches because I find them to be cheap.  I have a friend who does nothing but churches but she doesn't claim a good income from them either so works a job full time.  I am currently working towards corporate business which ain't easy either.  If you have found a way to make churches your bread and butter I'd like to hear more about what your are selling them?  I mean are you doing what I know how to do such as make Job et al come to life and sound exciting?  The competition (to me) is traveling musical groups that they expect to compensate.

   I think you've got a good start, because you already have the Story you want to tell. Our trade isn't about the performers, it's about keeping Story alive. In the case of church performances or teaching or leadership, it's about one specific Story. But you are right, the soft belly 4th generationers need to know about options. How does one present the Story in another way to appeal to more people or at least new people who Need it? Communication (or getting the Story out there in an appealing way), not Performance (possibly insincere or overproduced "acting").

  I don't know about Sunday School conferences. When I went to the United Methodist church, there was some focus on youth conferences and retreats for various ages, like Emaeus and Chrysalis. Is that the kind of thing you mean?

A lot of things can happen in a day.  We had storms, lots of rain, in two day 3.75 inches here on my place.  My basement has flooded, pump died, replaced pump.  It is almost midnight, whoops one in the morning.  So now I sleep.


A talking logo is a four or five word statement or phrase that gives your core message about your business.  In a split second, a person can make a decision about whether or not they want to continue the relationship.  Coca cola uses "The Real Thing,"  Poppa John's Pizza "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Poppa John's."  I have become a fan of talking logos.  I am starting an unofficial list, soon it will go from my head to my journal.  "Nothing runs like a Deere."  "Dodge built Ram Tough"  Toyota, "Moving Forward."  How many can you capture in a day?  Wanna Play?


The talking logo, tells anyone who hears it exactly what your business is and how good you are at it.


The Conference talking logo is;  "It's Communication, not Performance."


Sweet dreams everyone.


It's a mini-elevator pitch, right? LOL As if an elevator speech is concise enough! But you are right, sometimes it's not. On my business cards, I've got "Magda the StorySpider : Storyteller-Yarn Bard-Keeper of Tales". Do you think that counts as a talking logo?

Well, that's up to you... the talking logo creates an image story in the hearer's or reader's mind.  Ask some of your friends what they think of when they read or hear your "talking logo."  Hint:  Don't prime the pump or even tell them it's "yours"  Let them see it as foreign and then see what they say.  You may have to widen your circle to get someone who hasn't heard you use it or seen your printed material.


Let me know what they say.  I am very curious.


I've posted it on my friends' listserv, Twitter & Facebook. Let's see what kind of reaction I get...





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