Leading to the edges

ruler-edgeEntrepreneurs get this. Start-up businesses get this. New franchises get this. Church planters get this. But no one in an older business, church, franchise, or industry can comprehend this.

You have grown your audience as much within what you are doing today as you will ever grow it. You primary demographic already knows about you and has decided whether to be a customer or not. They have decided whether to become a student in your college or not. They have decided whether or not your to attend your church.

People largely make decisions on your project, widget, consumable, or institution in an instant. Five seconds or less. (Test it yourself, watch TV commercials. How soon until you decide if you are buying that product? I thought so.) Spending more money to advertise the same thing over and over again is just a waste of money. This is why Super Bowl commercials can be deal makers or deal breakers for companies you’ve never heard of.

This is why marketers dump millions of dollars onto the airwaves and see little return on their investment. This is why church marketing sucks. Once you can identify who your audience is… your best possibility for growth then shifts to customer service and care. Can I keep the customers I have? Can I provide them such an amazing service that they tell their friends that they have to go there, be there, or be your customer?

Growth comes as you lead your organization towards the edges. When you help your church or college find a new demographic, there is growth. When you design a new product that changes the game for an old industry, there is growth. When you serve a need that everyone wants but no one offers, there is growth.

What’s the first step in determining how to find my edge?

Spend time and discover where you are failing. Spend time finding out where everyone in your industry fails. Spend time finding out what churches in your area aren’t doing.

Hint: Studying successful companies, institutions, churches, or whatever will only lead you away from growth and into their market. Learn from their best practices, for sure, but don’t study them to copy them. Their edge won’t ever be your edge.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

2 comments

  1. Adam, another fantastic, insightful post! You’re right: Entrepreneur’s, Start-ups, sacred or secular get it.

    And here’s my opinions why (not that you asked):

    1. They have a healthy respect for fear & failure. They’re not fear-driven, like most of their predecessors, but they’ve got enough of it to keep their “new thing” interesting, and to keep them from being too stupid in their decision-making.

    2. They’re alone. By that I mean, they’re not run by task forces or committees, who by default run to the middle because they ARE fear driven. They may have 1 or 2 other people who help them make sense of their situation and decide what to do from there.

    All of that to say: What does that mean for the Church? Committees, boards, groupthinks…we talk about community and pluralistic leadership being key…but is that the best way to lead? Is that the best way to turn the ship around before it gets wrecked?

    What do you think?

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