Free Palmer, The Penske Moving Version

truckThe subtitle of this post could be “The absolute random life of Adam McLane.”

Tomorrow I leave for a 3-day trip. I’ll be flying to Nashville and then driving back in a giant Penske moving truck with my buddy Dave Palmer as part of a theory that you can catch a company doing something good.

Free Palmer!


A Children’s Ministry Curriculum about Underwear. Really?

Taking a little detour into online marketing this morning… 

This ad popped up on my Facebook profile this morning. It kind of stopped me cold.

  • The title is clear: “For children’s ministers.
  • The picture is of little girls underwear…
  • Let that sink in. Strike you as odd?

I clicked on the ad, seeking to understand what girls underwear and children’s ministers had to do with Christmas.

It’s for a curriculum called, Socks and Underwear, by an unnamed publisher on a site I’ve never heard of. (My knowledge of kids ministry curriculum is really limited.) But I did see that it’s normally $100 but they will sell it to you for $45. I’m going to guess that a weird name like this isn’t helping sales. The curriculum itself looks cute, not something I’d use or recommend, but cute nonetheless. The general premise seems to be that we give/receive gifts at Christmas that we don’t want and Jesus is the gift we do want.

Just a little hint to those who like their jobs in kids ministry…. don’t do a series that advertises to you with little girls underwear. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but sexual molestation is just about the scariest thing a parent can imagine when it comes to leaving their kids at church. Not to sound alarmist or anything but a lot of people outside of the church are already suspicious of many church workers because of sexual abuse cases.

Just a little hint to the marketer creating ads… Um, no. Don’t feature little girls underwear in your ads, it’ll attract the wrong types of people.

And while jokes about underpants and stuff like that is totally in bounds for kids ministry— ads using little girls underwear on Facebook feels completely out-of-bounds to me.

Am I alone in this?


After emailing them I received this response:

Thanks for the heads up! We are sorry you were offended. Our FB marketer put a picture of adult underwear up since the title of the series’ is Socks and Underwear. We went ahead and took it down to be on the safe side. Thanks again for writing and letting us know.

My thought – I’m not trying to take the moral high ground here… but “We are sorry you were offended” and taking it down, blaming it on the Facebook marketer, is hardly admitting that it was misguided to begin with. But whatever, less underwear on Facebook is a good thing regardless.



William Shakespeare on Marketing



Here’s a little lesson on hype for all my wanna-be self-promoter friends.

If you hype something you’ve got a vested interest in it’ll come off as fake.

If someone else hypes it for you, even if you lose some level of control, it’ll go a lot better.

Three examples:

  • I follow hundreds of pastors on Twitter and Facebook. (Totally guilty as charged) They are all excited about what they are teaching and think hundreds of people should invite their friends to come hear them speak. Their band is gonna melt your face. Their preaching is going to be super cool. They’ve got an illustration that’ll make every knee bow and tongue declare that Jesus is Lord.
  • Lots of people I know have written books or created a product you can buy. (Again, guilty as charged) There’s a fine line for an author between being accessible as an author and overhyping your product.
  • Each day I write a blog post. If I post a link more than twice, the click through rate on that to my blog goes straight to zero. Knowing that it drives me nuts to see bloggers post a link, 8-10 times per day to their blog.

You need recommendations

Times have changed. It used to be that having access to an author or a speaker somehow validated their message. But now, since everyone is instantly accessible that is no longer the case. In many case the best way to hype something is to limit access to the creation process. (Apple is the master of this, all the hype is in the speculation)

Think about your actual decision-making process. Take a few minutes to do some self-examination. I think what you’ll see is the power of recommendation. A recommendation is infinitely more powerful in my day-to-day life than hype.

  • I rarely go to a restaurant for the first time without checking Yelp or asking about a place… unless I want to discover something so I can recommend it.
  • Wander through the maze of a bookstore. The average Borders will have 100,000+ titles. You wouldn’t have a clue what to read if it weren’t for recommendations.
  • Think about the products over $100 you buy. Or the places you take your kids. Or the things you try at work. Now think about how you heard about those things or knew it was worth putting your name behind.

Right now, it’s all about recommendations.

If you want to (or need to) hype something, focus all your energy on recommendations. And stop with the self-hype.


Kid’s Attention Valued at $1.12 Trillion Annually

My kids can tell me about all the latest Disney movies. And they can rattle off the specs of just about every toy that they want. Worse yet? They are armed with lines that tell me all about why buying that toy is good for them and the deal they will get if they buy it online by a specific date.

The culprit? Savvy marketers are hitting them where I’m not looking. Sites that I’ve deemed safe for them to play on are now rewarding them for watching well-placed ads. My own kids are earning Webkinz bucks by watching trailers for movies. It’s not just Webkinz, it’s all of them.

On the table? Getting kids to influence their parents spending habits.

$1.12 trillion. That’s the amount that kids influenced last year in overall family spending, says James McNeal, a kid marketing consultant and author of Kids as Consumers: A Handbook of Marketing to Children. “Up to age 16, kids are determining most expenditures in the household,” he says. “This is very attractive to marketers.” 

Marketing to Kids Gets More Savvy with Technology, USA Today, August 15th 2011. – Read the rest

What does this have to do with youth ministry? Absolutely everything. I’m not saying you need to market your ministry to your students. But I am saying that you need to know that there are others out there marketing to your students in ways that are more savvy and more influential than your flyer and stage announcement.

Your retreat, your camp, your mission trip… things like that are competing for the same $1.12 trillion. Sad. But true.

Tip for Webkinz parents: Go into your kids account and turn off third-party ads.

Question: Should the government regulate advertising to children?