3 Communication Lessons from iPhone Launches

It seems like every 6 months Apple does it again.  Somehow they are able to capture the imagination of literally millions of people to get them to line up at their stores to purchase the latest version of their devices.  It’s breath taking.  It’s beyond just a successful business and is moving into a cultural defining experience.  ”Have you stood in line for an iPhone?”  Just this past Sunday I heard of a kid who is going as a “Mac Genius” for Halloween this year!

What lessons can we pull out from the way that Apple rolls out it’s new iPhones for the way we roll out launches at our churches?

  • Earn the Right to be Heard Again. // When the first iPhone came out the world celebrated that Apple sold 1 million units in 74 days. The iPhone 3g took just 3 days to get to 1 million units.  The iPhone 5 sold a staggering 5 million units in the first 3 days. Apple has successfully released multiple generations of a “wow experience” to it’s users.  This has earned them momentum and creditability for every subsequent release.  Apple does more than just hype it’s release … it delivers on an excellent experience.  They are known for that delivery and therefore people believe the hype the next time around.  Are we delivering an experience that matches our hype? Is that event really “an amazing spiritual growth opportunity?” Will the kids day camp really “make memories that will last a lifetime?” When our execution matches our communication it creates a virtuous loop where people are more willing to listen to our communication in the future.

 

  • Their Solution Matches Our Problems // Apple has always had a keen ability to see through the typically “technobabble” and actually communicate to the public that their solution solves our problems.  The features of their products line up with real world needs (or wants) of real people. They are masters are connecting the dots between what they have made and how that will help us in our lives. Are being clear “what’s in it for our them” or are we simply describing our solution to our people?  Do people really want a 10 week study on Biblical financial stewardship or do they really just want to know how to get out of debt? Our small groups are great places to meet people, grow spiritually and serve the community … but do folks in our church perceive that they want to meet people, grow spiritually and serve the community? Do we spend enough time explaining the benefits of our ministry to people and not just the features that it includes? Our communication needs to framed primarily from the place of those people listening to it and not from our position as the communicator.

 

  • Hype Works. // Apple focuses the release of products to generate hype.  They understand that the picture of people standing in lines to buy their product is a powerful image for creating purchasing momentum and craft their launches around that hype.  During a previous iPhone launch they even set up a temporary store within walking distance from a massive tech/culture conference to make sure that those clients could stand in line and wait for a phone. When Hollywood releases a movie they gear their marketing efforts to focus a response from the public on opening weekend. Even authors have picked up on the fact that generating a lot of initial sales for their books is a way to earn credibility and sales. Do our launches create this sense of urgency? When we announce the upcoming massive community service opportunity do have laptops waiting the lobby after the service to sign people up right away? Or what if when students signed up for that retreat they received a killer t-shirt they’d actually want to wear to build interest and identification? If it matters to the future of your church … generating and focusing anticipation needs to be a tool in your communications belt.

 

Our “product” is so much more important than a 0.5 inch bigger screen on a smart phone. Our job is to help people connect with Jesus in a way that sees life transformation that ripples beyond them to their family, community and the world!

I look forward to the day when people are lined up around the block to get into your next ministry initiative! 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Kevin Persinger — 03/30/13 7:27 am

Brother just came across your stuff on vision room. Wow good stuff ..get tired of hearing same old thing all the time ..you are putting some good stuff Out there ...I am working on outreach in my comm. this summer ..we are working hard on this ...but u have fire me up to make sure my Execution matches my communication that I communicate to the church and the comm...but what I communicate only what I can Execute ...wow ..I need to make sure my talk matchs my waLk ...but also DreaM big ...and Execute big ....thanks...Pastor Kevin ?.let me know u got this ...thanks

Mr. Steven Finkill — 11/05/12 8:23 am

Great article about Apple, the masters of buzz-generation. Especially the first point is critical, though. Creating buzz about something that isn't buzz-worthy will only hurt you in the long run. You've got to start by DOING something that is buzz-worthy. For some of the churches I've been a part of, that has been the main challenge.

Recent Comments
I grew up attending relatively small churches where everyone knew everybody and if you'd been there 5 minutes, you weren't a stranger anymore. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case anymore, whether it's a large church or a small one. I do not actively attend church because the churches I have visited failed to extend a welcome. The greeter simply said "hello" and handed me a bulletin, during the "greeting time" the congregation only greeted those they knew, and, although I filled out a visitor's care as requested, I never heard a word from anyone after my visit. No phone call, no letter, no post card. I'm not sure how congregations expect to spread the gospel when can't be bothered to even be friendly!
 
— asticatsmom
 
Website and/or bulletins need to be clear on what is expected of kids during the service. Are they expected to stay during the service? Or is there a nursery or Children's Church they should attend during the service? Where is it? For what ages? And when do you take them there - at beginning of service or sometime after the music or whatnot? Does the pastor make an announcement or are the kids just supposed to go at some point? Do I take them or does a teacher gather the kids and lead them to the classroom at that point? Every church does it different and I've yet to see any of this info on a church website or in a bulletin. I usually have to ask someone when I get there and if that someone doesn't have kids they usually don't know either!
 
— Amanda
 
I hate the meet and greet. Do pastors think that 15 random strangers shaking my hand for .5 seconds will make me feel welcome? It is just insincere, when you spend 30 seconds talking to your friends and don't even ask my name. I really hate the "please raise your hand if you are new". The hand raising and random amens at the end of each paragraph are distracting and selfish acts meant to draw attention to the church goer, and away from the message. The other thing that I can't stand is hearing people gossip. Of course they don't gossip to a guest, but we all hear it, and it just makes you all seem fake. For those of you that think that none of this should matter... when your church pushes away new members, you are no longer serving God and are serving yourself.
 
— Matthew
 

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