Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Anatomy of Buzz

Following are a pile of questions that I have been asking myself after reading a marketing book called The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen. I would recommend that you find this book and add it to your own personal library. Print this off and take some significant time to work through these questions with the people closest to your ministry. Some of the questions asked you may need to ask me for clarification on…ask! Lots of good brainstorm stuff here!

1. From who do our newcomers typically learn about youth/young adults?

2. What do people say when they recommend youth/young adults?

3. How fast does information about youth/young adults spread compared with other churches/young adults groups/organizations?

4. Who are our network hubs? Are there any mega-hubs? Which are social hubs and which are expert hubs? Are there any categories of people who might become network hubs for youth/young adults?

5. Where does information about young adults hit a roadblock? Do our hub people know what the heck is happening?

6. Which are the most important sources of information that our youth/young adults rely on to know who we are/what we are about?

7. What other kinds of information spread through the same networks?

8. Who are our inactive markets that our youth/young adults are not reaching? Are we listening for silence where we are not known?

9. Do we offer a quality event, program, and community?

10. Do we underpromise and overdeliver? Overpromise and underdeliver?

11. Does youth/young adults enhance the lives of the people who come?

12. Contagious products and ideas draw attention to themselves; how well does youth/young adults draw attention to itself?

13. Do we offer anything new? Buzz reflects excitement and excitement does not build around old ideas and predictable approaches.

14. Are we operating in a spirit of truth, honesty, and directness?

15. What are we willing to do to accelerate the contagiousness and word-of-mouth spread about youth/young adults?

16. What do students/young adults tell their friends about us? About other churches/youth groups/young adults?

17. What is the general church culture saying about young adult and youth ministry right now?

18. How receptive and responsive are we to our student and young adult concerns, comments, suggestions? How easy is it for people to talk to us?

19. Can we limit access to youth/young adults to create buzz? Scarcity build interest.

20. What sneak previews do we want to give to grade 12's for young adults and grade 8's to youth?

21. What can we do that will surprise people?

22. How outrageous can we be?

23. Who and how can we take people 'behind the scenes'?

24. What is the story and drama that we need to keep telling about our communities?

25. What events can we stage to get people talking about youth/young adults?

26. What kind of "pass it on" promotional material and mechanisms do we have?

27. How visible is youth/young adults to youth and young adults?

28. Are our youth talking to each other? The more that they interact, the more involved they will become with youth/young adults and the more likely they will tell other people. Can we find ways to help them talk to each other, socialize, and exchange comments?

29. Is there anything that we can do that makes youth/young adults more useful as more people use it? Example: email is more useful when more people use it; myspace is more useful when more people use myspace. People will spread the word more readily if they perceive some sort of personal benefit.

30. Is there anyway that we can offer any type of 'referrals reward program'?

31. Can our ads be clever enough to create buzz on their own?

32. How well can our youth/young adults articulate who we are and what we are about?

33. Are we supplying our networks with a constant flow of innovations that people can actually talk about?

34. Are we keeping people involved? If people join us but never think about it again, we can't expect them to talk about it too much. However, if we involve them, engage them, make it interesting for them, they will talk. Involvement translates to action, which in turn translates to buzz.

Identifying Network Hubs
"Whether you spread an idea, a product, or a service, you always have a choice. You can broadcast or you can connect. Broadcasting involves massive mailings or buying media time and packaging your message so that it can be transmitted simultaneously to all nodes in the network. Connecting involves starting a dialogue with certain individuals in the network that you are trying to influence." -Emanuel Rosen
How do we identify these certain people?
1. Let network hubs identify themselves. These are people who come to us for something they want more then anything else: information. Network hubs feed on information.

2. Identify Categories of Network Hubs. The way to look for a category is to look for people who, by virtue of their position, have a higher then average number of ties with people in the networks you are trying to reach.

3. Spotting Network Hubs in the Field. It's easy to find these hubs when you are apart of a community. In fact, when you are apart of a community don’t really have to search.

Seeding Ideas
Successful seeding is an active process. It goes beyond the Field of Dreams cliché "If you build it, they will come." Rather than waiting passively for people to come to you, you go out and plant seeds all around the forest.

1. Look Beyond the Usual Suspects. Think broadly. Who are the people outside of our normal networks that could be 'seeded' with new ideas about young adults?

2. Put Information/Product In Their Hands. What piece of young adult product can we put in people's hand that will 'germinate itself' into other people's hands?

3. Listen For Silence. Successful seeding requires that we pay attention to dead networks and go further in order to reach them.

4. What seeding efforts are we doing right now? What should we be doing in the near future?

Hope this can be some use to you! Let me know if you need clarification on certain ideas or questions...I'd love to help. If it helps you pass it on.

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Monday, November 27, 2006


My good friend Chad Langerud said this important statement to me this summer,

"Let's make sure that IT is familiar but never predictable."

The conversation below is not over.

PS - New stuff over at the eddie def blog.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Economics, Church, and Scarcity

Simple economics tells us that people will value anything that is scarce; scarcity drives prices up and, for those who can afford scarcity, it drives personal status up. We live in a supply and demand culture that demands much more then most in our culture are ready to supply.

Some examples of the supply and demand culture we live in:
The powers that be that control the Middles Eastern oil sands have driven the price of oil up significantly simply by limiting the amount of oil taken from the earth. The result has been a world wide jump in prices at the pump, a renewed search for more oil in other parts of the world, grain fuels, and ‘wars on terrorism.’

Gmail. When gmail was first introduced the only way that anyone could sign up for a gmail account was through a personal invite from a friend who only had a limited number of invites. It was a great bit of marketing that allowed new gmail users to, at least for a while, feel a sense of status in ‘the next big thing.’ Early adopters of gmail had a superior service that gave a personal sense of superiority and insider knowledge. Everyone wanted to at least get the invite so they could check it out!

Now let’s transition this to ideas, actions, emotions, and spirituality. To do this, keep this key thought in your mind: “Familiarity breeds depreciation.” When something, anything, is too familiar, it looses its value.

Ideas – Which ideas get the most play time in your thoughts? The ideas that are surprising, arouse curiosity, and are counter-intuitive to what you normally think. Right?

Actions – I have a sneaking little suspicion that sex is talked about, joked about, thought about, viewed online, and highly valued because sex, for most people, is a scarcity. Again, supply and demand.

– Imagine if everyone was accepted. Imagine if no one ever felt like the outsider, rejected, or lonely. Imagine what would happen to acceptance! No one would care anymore and it obviously wouldn’t be something that people see counselors about, cry in bathroom stalls about, or jump off bridges for. Acceptance is a scarce feeling because so many are not accepted. Now consider this; most strong emotions have something to do with a scarcity.

Spirituality – Have you heard a statement like this before, “We live in a culture that is very interested in spirituality but not interested in the church or Jesus.” I’m sure you have. Have you ever thought why that statement is made?

I think it might have something to do with scarcity. Bible-believing Christ-centered spirituality is no longer sacred in its ideas, actions, and emotions because it is no longer scarce. There is too much of it. Think about that for a moment…

Familiarity breeds depreciation. People don’t care because we’re not sexy or, as Jesus put it, salt and light.

Could it be that the large majority of our current Canadian society does not appreciate or has a growing depreciation of the church simply because they already know what they are going to get? I’ve heard it said over and over that the church needs to be known in culture but maybe we need to be less known? Are we too familiar? Maybe. Could we somehow surprise culture with something they don’t know, feel, or see?

There might be room for scarcity in your church. Scarcity drives market.
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Stuck Learning #2

Following is a rebuttal to my recently writen Stuck Learning post. This was sent to me by a friend who I am sure will see my way in the end! :)

First off, how do you know that people aren’t learning anything in the opposite states of which you’ve presented?

1. Knows Everything Already – Some people know vast amounts, and really what those teachers/communicators have to offer, these people already know and understand it. So, over all, there stands the obligation of those people who are teaching to go further than their students. Some of those people, I would suggest are possible sick of what is known as satisfactory. What if someone has exhausted all of the resources that they know of, and sincerely can’t find anymore so they can proceed--- all the resources have been used by this person. Is there more to learn, and are they to create new resources out of thin air?

2. Busyness
– Sometimes you really do need to deal with what’s in the front of you before you can deal with anything new. So, you can’t always learn something new. Sometimes people just have to cope with and process what’s going on. If you take new things on all the time ‘in hopes to learn’, it can result in stress, and possibly, eventually burn out. I would suggest to encourage people to sometimes stop learning new things so they can digest what’s in front of them already.

3. Boredom – What are the teachers actually teaching? Are they teaching material that is intriguing, one that challenges or are they simply teaching what they know? Sometimes people have, again, exhausted all the resources, and as a result are bored. The onus is no longer on the learner, but the teacher.

4. Repetition – I think there’s something to be said for perfection. You have to practice it until you get it right. “Practice makes perfect.” Think of drumming for example. The drummers, who are really good, have perfected every step before they move on to the next/new one. This applies to more than just this one aspect of life but, I would suggest, in its varying forms, to every aspect. You have to master the placing the light bulb into the socket if you want to actually see the light turn on when you flip the switch.

5. Completed Living – Again going on the thought of the drummers training. You can’t move on until you’ve perfected what you have just been taught. Bringing a new aspect will completely throw you off. Some things in life require you to acknowledge that you have perfected something, and that you have completed it in order to move on and be successful. If you recognize that you are incomplete in something, haven’t mastered it, and move on anyway, you could be setting yourself up for future folly.

6. Crisis Free - I think ‘troublems’ is a wrong way to put it. What about learning through just simple observation? I wouldn’t say that you’re stuck if you aren’t experiencing crisis. Crisis can sometimes again, cause stress or, as an end result, burn out, and thus crisis as a positive, can be a dangerous ally.

7. Unnecessary Failure
– Aka, Ignorance. That’s another way to look at it. What if you don’t know that the knowledge is available? You have absolutely no knowledge of this higher level. Is the onus on you if you actually don’t know?

8. Isolation – What about the introverts? The ones that can’t learn with others. You look at college and high school years, where you have various students. Some of the students simply can’t learn from and while being around people. They need to be alone so they can process. Being in a room of people is distracting, causes dissention for them, and, therefore, disallows them from being able to process any information. Not everyone is the same, and not everyone learns the same way. To make a universal statement that shared space is a learning environment that works, seems rather presumptuous.

Thanks Steve!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

HDB is short for _________ .

Apparently this blog is an HDB. Thanks Paul!
To find out what category of blog yours falls into check out this exhaustive list.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Stuck Learning

Sometimes people get stuck not learning. Some stuck places include:
1. Knows Everything Already – These people never allow themselves to be surprised or effected by any new insight. Sometimes arrogant and often criticize without offering solution.

2. Busyness – People who are so busy that they are too busy to “notice” learning. Busyness allows us to only see the immediate survival steps and never imagine the next steps.

3. Boredom – This is normally a side project of ‘knows everything’ people; nothing is ever new, surprising, or engaging – every bit and piece of knowledge is old and frustrating. Bored people generally are boring people who look more for entertainment then learning.

4. Repetition – No one can become better by doing the same thing the same way forever. What worked yesterday and today likely will not work tomorrow. Feel free to tweak and change it up or risk living in a mediocre and non-innovative life.

5. Completed Living – These are stuck places that misinterpret goal completion as finished learning. Incompleteness must be acknowledged in order to move on.

6. Crises Free – You might find that your capacity for learning is stuck if you have not had to work through conflict or find solutions to problems. Learners generate troublems.

7. Unnecessary Failure - This is not a stuck place but rather a metric of being stuck. You might be stuck if you have failed because you have not learned from the knowledge available to you.

8. Isolation – Though not always the case, isolated people generally like to dig holes for themselves; community involvement, collaboration, juxtaposition of ideas, and shared spaces are key learning environments. Learners ruthlessly seek out other learners.

Any thoughts on getting unstuck? Post here in the comments, write a column and we can post it here in a few days, or respond on your own blog.


Saturday, November 04, 2006


What are people most interested in?
Themselves, obviously.

Watch anyone look at pictures from last night’s little shindigger and what photos do they spend the most time looking at?
The photos of them, obviously.

Who do news crews interview and which people care the most when disaster happens in India?
Indians who still have family living in India, obviously.

What causes are people most likely to get behind?
The ones that are about them or somehow impact them personally, obviously.

What communities are people most likely to be actively involved in?
The ones that enhance their life, obviously.

What bands, films, songs, and advertisements are people responding to?
The ones that are the closest to who they are and who they want to be, obviously.

What version of truth, certainty, spirituality, and belief do people love?
The version that fits their life, obviously.

Which god do you serve?
The version that fits your life, obviously.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How Certain is Certainty?

Merry the Day After Halloween - it's like Boxing Day for candy and you can get pumpkins for nearly free. I dressed up as a kissing booth.......Anyhow, following is an article from a friend who has moved to the UK this year for school. He is also in the process of writing a book on the subject of truth; he would like some of your response to this thought. Enjoy!

It seems like one of Christianity’s favourite topics these days is truth. On a blog such as this, the topic needs little introduction. And so, I’ll skip the introduction.

Whatever you believe truth is, whether you believe in absolute truth or not, there is a deeper question, which is the inevitable product of all of these questions. Should we be certain?

–noun, plural -ties.
1.the state of being certain.
2.something certain; an assured fact.
3.for or of a certainty, certainly; without a doubt: I suspect it, but I don't know it for a certainty.

It has been my experience that most of our questions about truth are actually just a form of this question of certainty. Those who believe in absolute truth are just more certain of ideas. A wise man once said to me, “the only certain thing in the world is that only crazy people are certain.” Is that just a statement of relative truth? Or is it wisdom stemming from a realization of the limits of the human brain?

If in fact it is wrong to be certain of something because we are human, where does that place us in relation to God? Belief is a function of the human brain, and I believe that this function is no different no matter what its target is. Thus, if certainty is not a positive modifier of the function belief, certainty in God cannot be a good thing.

I also believe that faith and trust are synonymous, and that faith has nothing to do with belief unless you are trusting in someone who told you to believe something. I do not see faith as a reason to be certain of God’s existence.

The problem with certainty is that we are always capable of being incorrect. Certainty is what stops us from seeing when we are correct. I once knew a Christian who was so certain that God created the world in six days that she said “I wouldn’t believe in evolution even if you proved it right before my eyes.” She then proceeded to say that her certainty came from her faith in God. The equation, as I see it, is as follows:

Belief + Faith = Certainty

I’m almost certain that is incorrect. But what about this one?

Belief + Proof = Certainty

Or this one:

Belief + Proof = Absolute Truth

I must distinguish the difference between certainty and absolute truth. This is hard to do since in my last blog on absolute truth I discovered that people have three different definitions of the term. Certainty is when your belief is “without a doubt,” in an “assured fact”.

The biggest pro of being certain is that it allows you to develop ideas on a firm foundation. When you are sure something is true, you can then base other ideas on the fact you have already discovered. Also, certainty can be considered necessary in order to have assurance of salvation. The main drawback of certainty is that we are human and could be wrong. Also, certainty is offensive to those who believe differently.

I am currently writing a book on the topic “truth”. I have gotten to a point where I cannot continue to write until I know what side I am on in the argument over certainty. I would love to hear your ideas.

Is certainty a positive, negative, or neutral characteristic of one’s beliefs?
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