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
Great article as usual from Ed.
 
— Jim Bradshaw
 
I recently left the church where I had attended for 10 years & have been looking for another church home. I visited several in cities that were a distance away- 35 minutes, 1 hr & 1.5 hrs. I could see myself serving in any of those churches, but would like some place closer. I tried several in the town where I live, but no luck so far. One service was supposed to start at 10, but didn't start til 10:20 & the "announcements" took up- no exaggeration- 30+ minutes! THEN they called a guy up to "pray over the offering" He proceeded to whip the congregation into being cheerful givers: "What time is it saints?" [mumble, mumble] "I said, what time is it?" "HAPPY TIME!"- this went on for 15 minutes. ONE hour after their supposed start time, they actually began praise & worship! Another church I went to locally was ok, but the morning I visited there, near the end of the sermon, the pastor announced in his sermon, "I'm not one of those educated preachers! I'm just a simple man with a simple message; I don't get into the Old Testament & all the feast days & all that....I like to stick with the gospels." Nothing wrong with the Gospels, but it's like going to Golden Corral & only eating at the taco bar...good stuff but you're missing out on so much! Needless to say, that was my confirmation to move on... I'm currently driving 1.5 hrs on Sunday nights to attend an excellent church in Charlotte.
 
— Cathy
 
I have an autoimmune disorder. It would be nice if the 'meet & greet' didn't include "Shake the hand of 10 people" Basically it all seems so artificial anyway. Once you sit down can you remember that person's name, color of their eyes, anything they said? My church has an information area with a live person behind the counter. However, the person behind the counter is clueless as to what is happening at the church, which groups they have or where they meet. Basically that person can't answer any questions. The church also has a website. It informs you when the services are, a few of the groups that are available but very little information about what the groups entail or who to contact for each group. There isn't a calendar of events. They are very impressed with themselves since they have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. Defeats the purpose if it's all about past events. The rest of the top 10 - luckily don't fit the church I attend.
 
— Jean
 

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