From 5:30-8:30 this evening, there’s going to be trouble. Feet will tap, heads will ache and sweat will trickle down restless foreheads. Starbucks is closing.
6 weeks ago, Howard Schultz took over the reins (again) as CEO of Starbucks. Since then, he’s been on a mission to return the company to its previous form. Today, every store throughout the nation will close for three hours for “remedial espresso training.” Or in Schultz’ terms, “to teach, educate and share our love of coffee, and the art of espresso.”
I beg to differ. This might be about a better cup of coffee, but there’s a lot more to it than that, and it’s pretty slick.
Shutting down your operation creates buzz. Apple knows this; they do all their online store updates in the middle of the day, and they bring down their whole site as the rumor sites go ablaze in anticipation. Starbucks knows this, too.
When you tell the world you are shutting down for three hours to learn to excel or to make changes, when things reopen, people want to investigate. They’ll want to see if the coffee is better and what new tricks the baristas have up their collective, trendy sleeve.
Luckily, I’ve done the dirty work for you here to examine what this means for churches. There’s three steps involved here, and this is what it could look like in your congregation:
- Plan something big. It doesn’t have to be some huge production or earth-shattering show. It could be as simple as a new initiative to help the community or unveiling a new missions strategy. Or hey, if it’s your style, it could be a production-heavy event. Be who you are. Whatever it is, make it something that matters — that will change lives and impact people.
- Take some time off. Let people know you’re in prayer about what’s coming or that you’re preparing for something huge. This isn’t a bait-and-switch; if you say you’re going to take time off in prayer, do it. If you say you’re working to get better, do it. But let people know that your time off will translate into a new, different or better experience for them.
- Deliver. Don’t take a month off and take out ads in the local paper to finally reveal you’re adding a fourth clarinet to the church orchestra in the 6:00 sunrise service. This whole Starbucks thing won’t matter if their coffee doesn’t improve by 8:30 tonight. After you take some time off, people have to be impressed with the effort you made.
I can’t reiterate enough that this shouldn’t be an empty marketing ploy. It’s a simple way to create buzz and momentum for the things your church is passionate about.
Inherently, giving a three-step strategy to market to people sounds fishy. But in this strategy, you communicate what you’re committed to. You convince more people to come and see what you’re passionate about, and you’re showing them that you’re committed to excellence and creativity, even if it means shooting an arrow in the butt of the sacred cow of Sunday morning services.