Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why did I get married? Lessons on "viruses"

Okay, so the title of this post caught your attention. Actually, though, I am not asking this question (why did I get married). Each day God confirms to me more and more that Becki and I are a great match. For those of you going through tough times in your marriage, know that this is normal, pray about it, tough it out, and get some additional friends (of the same sex) so that all of your life does not depend upon your marital relationship.

There is actually a movie that came out last weekend called, Why Did I Get Married? In the Mon., Oct. 15 issue of USA Today in the Life section, an article was ran on the surprising box office success of this movie. If you had not heard of it, neither had I.

The article, entitled, Why did they get buried? Tyler Perry, asks why this film, which opened so strongly (at $21.5 million), slipped under the radar.

Apparently, the secret to the films success goes to word of mouth advertising. Lionsgate more than doubled the number of word of mouth screenings and reached out to religious groups (it is a family and faith based film).

What application does this have for outreach? I am not against mass advertising. In fact, I am for it, if done well and with the goal of reaching the lost. But we now live in an ad saturated society. Mass advertising only really works when it supplements the word of mouth advertising. Too often we dismiss the power of this advertising. Publishers, however, are becoming increasingly aware of this. This is why authors go to Barnes and Noble and do little promotion sessions all around the country. They are trying to create a buzz from these small groups, which will then spread the word to their friends.

Oftentimes, these small group sessions seem almost depressing. Only a few people show up--sometimes none at all. But those that do come, if they have a positive experience, will spread the word. This is called "viral marketing." And then the mass marketing kicks in, and it becomes even more effective because people have seen the book and publisher on the local level.

The lesson for churches is, in order for the gospel to spread, we must have many different outreaches at the local level--in coffeeshops, neighborhoods, bookclubs, schools, etc. Then do mass advertising, which supplements these efforts. And God may bring about a great response.

One other thing to note from this article. The author said that the film tapped into the African-American market, a group which he said sees very few films in the theater. This was a group that had flown "under the radar" of polled movie goers. In other words, this advertising reached a new group. This has great application for churches as well, since we want to reach new groups of people.
What do you think of "viral marketing"?