Note: This article is “Strategy 11” from the book Marketing Like Jesus: 25 Strategies to Change the World by Darren Shearer. Used by permission from the author.
On average, people are inundated with approximately 4,700 marketing messages each day.1 This is especially true in the United States, which has only six percent of the world’s population yet consumes 56 percent of the world’s advertising.2 With this amount of noise, today’s influencers must be clear or be ignored. Saying many words usually communicates little.
Consider that many of the most memorable writings and speeches in history were also some of the shortest. The Lord’s Prayer contains only 56 words; the Gettysburg Address, 266; the Ten Commandments, 297; and the Declaration of Independence, 300. To keep it memorable, keep it simple. As one of my Air Force commanders used to say, “Be clear. Be brief. Be seated.”
While his message was mysterious and profound to everyone who heard it, Jesus kept his core message clear:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)
This was the “good news,” the “gospel” (Mark 1:1). Jesus’ message was not about rules or complex, high-brow philosophy. His message was not advice; it was news. Clear and concise, Jesus’ core message was to inform people that they had been set free from living hopeless and pointless lives. Through a relationship with their Creator, they were now free to experience the inner peace for which they had longed. All they had to do was accept what he offered. Although easier said than done, it was simple.
Further, Jesus communicated his simple message in a brief and concise way. Leonard Sweet writes,
Jesus was a master of the One-Minute Message. In poetic form, He could have delivered the Sermon on the Mount in less than a minute. In poetic form, the Lord’s Prayer can be recited in Hebrew in less than a minute, and almost every parable takes only a minute to tell.3
Undoubtedly, Jesus could have held a captive audience as long as anybody. Yet, he chose to keep his message brief and to the point.
Can you explain your core message to someone in one sentence? If you were building a house, that single sentence would be like the foundation of your house upon which everything else is built. It must be solid. Most people and organizations are trying to be “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” building all over the place but never finishing anything. When it comes to your foundation, you do not want to be a generalist. When people do not know what you are about, they will quickly give up trying to figure you out and will draw their own incorrect conclusions. The jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none approach—that is, trying to be great at everything for fear of “limiting” ourselves and missing opportunities—does not work in marketing today. You probably have a variety of interests and talents which you should explore; however, people cannot understand or remember you if you do not give them one clear message.
At the same time, people pursue those who know who they are, what they offer, and where they are going. People just need one good and clear reason to follow you. Give them one simple, clearly defined, and brief message to help them understand and remember you.
Famous for getting pizza to their customers in “30 minutes or its free,” the devout Christian founder and former president of Domino’s Pizza, Tom Monaghan, was asked to share his company’s secret to success. His answer? “A fanatical focus on doing one thing well.”
For FedEx’s shipping services, the brand promise is all about “when it absolutely has to be there overnight.”
Second to Hertz, Avis boasts chiefly in their commitment to a higher level of service in their industry, saying, “We’re Number Two. We Try Harder.”
To help people understand what you are offering, distill your value proposition down to one or two sentences. One phrase is even better.
In one or two sentences max, what is your core marketing message? In other words, what makes you (and/or your organization) one-of-a-kind?
1 Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerrilla Marketing (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007), 133.
2Al Ries and Jack Trout, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001), 13.
3Leonard Sweet and Frank Voila, Jesus: A Theography (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 152.
Darren Shearer is the director of the Theology of Business Institute, a global think tank dedicated to the exploration and application of God’s will for business. He has authored three books, including Marketing Like Jesus: 25 Strategies to Change the World and The Marketplace Christian: A Practical Guide to Using Your Spiritual Gifts in Business. He is also the founder and CEO of High Bridge Books & Media, which helps Christ-centered thought leaders craft and publish messages that reveal God’s glory in all spheres of culture. www.HighBridgeBooks.com