Last week there was a report in the ASTD Learning Executives Network newsletter, LX Briefing, about UPS. The article stated that “ninety-nine percent of UPS’s advertising dollars are spent using social media outlets or other Internet-based sites.” Editor Ruth Weiss tells us that “UPS—which hires up to 50,000 part-time and seasonal workers per year and relies heavily on young workers to fill many of those positions—is using social media tools to recruit new hires. Matt Lavery, managing director of talent acquisition at UPS, realized that to reach a larger group in the prospective employment pool, UPS needed to go where those between 18 and 25 years old were looking: Facebook and Twitter.”
In this week’s news, McDonald’s is spending a billion dollars (according to Forbes) “to make its stores more appealing to its customers.” They want their customers to hang out in their stores, like in Panera and Starbucks. This is another example of how corporations ride current trends (the success of the community-friendly atmosphere of Starbucks) in an attempt to attract and retain customers. (The difference is, Starbucks/Panera doesn’t have a PlayPlace or serve greasy fast food. This is an entirely different customer, whom you are not going to win over with pleather seats and soothing, earthy green and dijon paint colors.)
Every leader must choose which trends are useful for their market. Will a coffee-shop atmosphere attract new people to your church? Will social media? Will either keep people there for discipleship and accountability? Are we riding a trend because it works for someone else, or because it will help us to creatively community the gospel in our context?
Just for fun (and a bit of truth), watch this video: What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? A Parable