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5 Lessons Religion Can Teach Internet Marketers

5 lessons religion can teach internet marketers:

  1. Have a tall steeple (or something similar). Make sure folks can find you when they’re ready. Discoverability is the name of the game.
  2. Tell a good story. Have a compelling narrative about your brand. That way, when folks arrive they’ll want to stay.
  3. Practice what you preach. Cough. OK, religions don’t always do that well on this score. To succeed, though, you’d better know whereof you speak. That means believing in what you’re selling.
  4. Let the believers do the marketing. Your happy customers can go out and tell their friends about you. They’ll do a better job selling you than you ever could.
  5. Do not compromise. Religions function around a core of passionate believers. Your internet marketing campaign is the same. If you do something that appears to compromise the story that brought them to you, they’ll leave. You can’t replace them. So don’t compromise on the values that attracted your first, core customers.

Bonus lesson: Hubris, aka there Will Be A Reckoning. If you lie, or deceive, or mistreat some of your customers, the entire world will find out. It’s not an ‘if’. It’s a ‘when’. I’ve made this mistake a few times myself. So did Eliot Spitzer, seven or eight times. Er, but I made this mistake in different ways.

The Philosophical Stuff

People turn to religion when necessity and desire come together. The clergy and monks and rabbis and imams wait with their own compelling stories to comfort, explain and/or guide.

I make no judgments here. If you want my attitudes about organized religion and not-so-organized religion, you’ll have to buy me a beer.

Sure, missionaries go out and try to convert the unwashed masses (Although not in Judaism – we tell you to take a hike. Go figure). But the flock shows up when the flock is good and ready.
There’s a powerful lesson there for marketers. Internet marketing doesn’t work if you go out and try to convert folks. That worked when TV was the primary medium – you could talk at people, catch ’em at home, and lull them into buying what you had to offer (read Life After the 30 Second Spot to learn more about this).
Now, the game’s different: You have to wait for them to come to you.

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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