How will people know about it???
This is one of the most asked questions I hear when telling groups of people about the 801South venue launching later this spring. My immediate answer is, “Well, you, mainly.” We want to see relationships drive through 801South so naturally, a face-to-face invitation extended to those who are currently disconnected is the best marketing we can encourage.
There are also some other plans in the works for getting the word out in the community—that there is a new space for new people—that fall under the category of “marketing.” But how exactly do we package that which we hope to market?
I recently read a response to an article written in the New Yorker Magazine about the concept of brands and branding. The blog was written by Brody Bond, who co-leads a brand development agency in Baltimore, MD. If you are at all interested in the concept of marketing, I highly recommend you read both the original article and Brody’s response. What I loved most from the response is how he defines the term brand. Brody writes, “A brand is a promise of an experience.” What a great and thought-provoking definition! For us, it begs the question, “What kind of experience do we hope people encounter from the time they enter the parking lot to the moment they drive away…and beyond?” This starts us down the path of preparation to best provide this pre-determined experience.
We recently rolled out some helpful relational tools for our launch team to use when explaining, as well as inviting others into, 801South. The first is a short video; which explains some of 801South’s genesis.
The second tool is a small, simple invite card; which features the logo (a small part of branding) and a picture of people in relationship on the other side. This is not the final product that the launch team will receive at our next event on Tuesday, March 4th, but it is a prototype.
These relational tools aside, what is it that we want people to experience? This question guides so much of what we form as a worship experience for adults and for children. The worst thing we can do is to brand 801South with a promise that in no way matches a person’s actual experience. For example, if we promise that our band sounds exactly like Coldplay, but they actually sounds more like that band you started with your buddies back in middle school (mine was named Tempest) then we have lied about our brand. Or if we promise that all people will be warmly welcomed and that our hospitality team will serve them from their very first time on campus, but no one even speaks to them (or even worse-ignores a clear need), then our brand is not particularly valuable. And further marketing within the community only exacerbates the problem when the experience does not match the promise.
I know that God is at work here. I have incredible confidence in this vision. The people behind 801South will play a role in shaping lives for years to come. I can’t wait to see how lives are changed and futures are transformed through Jesus. Yes, we have a logo—I love it and we’re super excited about it. Yes, we have some promotional material. Yes, we have a plan for marketing the worship experience to the community. Yes, we have someone developing a website. But if there is a gap between our promise and the experience, then our brand will miss the mark. This is why the heart of the 801South servant is critical. The leaders are providing training, but without the servant’s heart striving for excellence in his or her ministry, the brand ultimately suffers. Those who serve through 801South have an opportunity to be a part of changing someones story forever. Yeah, it’s a big deal.
So maybe the question is not “How will they know about it?” But instead, “What will they tell of their experience?”
And in full disclosure, Brody Bond played lead guitar in Tempest.