Christian Business Christmas cardI have heard a lot of people ask this question.  I thought I would share my thought process and hopefully it will help you make a good decision.

As I was walking down the aisles looking at Christmas cards, I saw some really pretty cards.  I usually skip over the santa and elf cards and since I live in Texas, I don’t usually go with the snowmen cards either.

I saw many with the wise men and nativity scenes and I thought, these would be good to share.  When they opened up there were some nice ‘sayings.’  They may say ‘remember the reason for the season” or something like that.

Then, I had to back up.  I had to ask myself, will the people who receive my card ‘get’ the message.  If I am trying to share about the love of God, I don’t know if a clever saying will convey the message appropriately.  In reality, for some people the reason for the season is gifts.

Think about it, most nativity scene Christmas cards are for Christians.  They are not for those outside of the faith and they probably won’t be the catalyst to bring someone to know Christ.

You must decide the purpose of sending Christmas cards. Are you just being nice and sending a well-wishing card?  Are you truly honoring them with a hand-written message specifically for them?  Whatever you do make sure there is a purpose.

Maybe, your purpose is announcing the celebration of a Savior?  Great. Then, make sure your message is clear and not full of Christianese.

We need to look at all of our communication as representing Christ.  If we include a Bible verse, the message is irrelevant if the message is missed because of the context.

If your company is built on Christian values, highlight those values.  You may say something like, “We believe in serving the customer.  Our commitment comes from our Christian faith.  We want to share with you a Merry Christmas.” Then, on the opposite side, have the entire Christmas story right out of the Bible.

If you want to share the Christmas story, share it.  Don’t use a cute and clever saying or a stand alone Bible verse on the back of a card.  Share God’s message, as it was written in God’s word.

 

If you include the Bible in Christmas cards, make sure you share the whole message. #Christianbusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Christmas sales truckWe’ve been talking about how important it is to keep the right attitude about sales during the holidays.

Sales can be year round.  Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, Black Saturdays and whatever other things hit around Christmas. . . not to mention New Year’s Sales, Easter Sales, Independence Day Sales, Thanksgiving, Halloween, etc.

It is not about keeping up with the trends and riding each wave that comes along each year, it is about the attitude about it.

Do we create sales because everyone else is or do we create sale because we value our customers and want to honor God?

I know we can get controversial here, but let’s keep it real.  God gave you the opportunity to have a business, not to make money, but to impact lives.

Yes, you will make money if you are helping other solve their problems.  There is no problem to charge for the products and services you have.  If you don’t make money, you can’t help people.

Sales, discounts, coupons, marketing . . . these are all part of business.  Our plans should include how we will help others and make an impact for God.

With the new year coming up, have you taken time to pray about your plans for the next year?  Have you truly engaged the God of the Universe, who gave you your business, in the plans for your business?

It is not about sales. . .it is about having a right relationship with money.  It is about having a growing relationship with God.  

If you keep your life and your business lined up with God, then your plans will help people and impact lives.  One of those lives is yours.  You will grow, your business will grow and God will be standing right beside you smiling and saying . . . “Well, done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

 

Christians in business start with a growing relationship with the God of the Universe. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Origin of Holiday Sales

the origin of holiday salesWhen we look back it is hard to pin down the origin of holiday sales in America, but we can see a specific trend emerging starting with Franklin Roosevelt in 1939.

Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving from last Thursday to the fourth Thursday. That may not seem like a big move, but in some years that added an extra week before Christmas allowing retailers to have more time to sell presents for Christmas.

Why wait till after Thanksgiving?

There was an unwritten rule among retailers that they should not advertise about Christmas before Thanksgiving. Many of them were chomping at the bits and jumped on the idea that so many people were taking Friday off after Thanksgiving. That gave them more potential customers, so they competed to get them in the doors.

Basically, each year large cities would host a parade celebrating Thanksgiving. It would end with Santa.  That would trigger people to think about preparing for Christmas.   That would allow retailers the opportunity to have sales immediately following Thanksgiving.

Where do we get Black Friday?

Black Friday was coined in the 1950’s with a different meaning.  It was a day that workers called in sick in order to have a four day weekend.  It was also used by Police to refer to the abundance of people congregating in town centers on that same day.

It was not until 1975 in an article in the New York times that we got the modern meaning.  It referred to the biggest shopping day of the season.  It wasn’t until 1985 that it become more widespread, even though the trend had not hit many larger cities.

 

The Black Friday Modern Trend

The respect for Thanksgiving has been trampled by the need to get one step earlier than the competition.  It went from opening early on Friday to pushing to midnight sales and today many retailers just stay open on Thanksgiving.

A simple observation can tell us that our society is slowly creeping holidays across the entire year to better pad their bottom line. If they can keep us thinking about the next thing to buy in this ever aware digital society, they can get our hard earned money for the newest trends and electronices.

 

What is the point for Christians?

This year I saw Christmas decorations the day after Halloween.  We are bombarded by people trying to get our attention.  We live in a modern society that begs us to keep up with everyone else, less we become antiquated.  I mean, really, is that last years phone?!

Christians need to reevaluate the reason for holidays.  Thanksgiving is not about turkey.  It is about family and thanking God for the opportunities He has given us over the last year.  Christmas is not about gifts, it is about THE GIFT.  Christ came to earth to save us.  (How much money could we save if that was our focus?)

I don’t claim to have all of the answers.  I just want us to start a dialogue and separate our buying habits from our celebration of Christ’s birth.

 

Conclusion for Christian business owners.

If our strategy is to take advantage of every wind and wave that comes along, we are missing the boat.  As business owners, we want to make sales, but more than that, we should want to help others.

Our strategy needs to be caring for our customers, understanding their needs. If we choose to use the holidays to connect to them in a powerful way, then go for it.  Just make sure our purpose is always centered in our direction from our CEO, God.  Pray, read His Word and act accordingly in your business!

 

If you want to maximize sales for Christmas, focus on the real reason and act accordingly. #ChristianBusiness #Christianentrepreneur #Christmas Click To Tweet

 

For more info check out these articles on Wikipedia:

 

holiday salesBlack friday . . . cyber monday . . .it all amounts to hurrying to get the next best deal.

What if we built a business based on God’s principles?  What would happen if people trusted our business so much that they did not even think about going somewhere else no matter what kind of sales were going on?

I am not saying we should not be competitive, but our competitive advantage is the way we care for people.  It is the way that God’s love shines out of our business and into the lives of others.

I am not saying I have all the answers.  I am saying we need to rethink how we use holidays to sell more stuff.  Our focus should always be on the way we care for others and share the love of God.  If our customers know that, we don’t have to entice them with the next big sale.  Instead, we can honor them with their committed loyalty and help them make a great decision.

Holiday sales should be about honoring our customers and our God. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

A Question of Biblical Values

biblical values in businessWhen we talk about business, we talk about mission statements and value statements. Yet, we forget the foundational values of the Christian business owner based on God’s word.

We talked about the action of integrity and the decision of character.  Today, I want to get into the values found in God’s word.

Biblical values are the core beliefs that guide everything we do in life and business as a Christian. . . or at least they should be.

Instead of listing all the values we can find in God’s word let’s look at a good and bad example of using values from God’s word.

Let’s start with the bad.  There was a time, horrible as it was, when people used God’s word to force others into slavery.  They took the Bible out of context to fit what they wanted in this life.  They distorted God’s word to suit their needs.  Honestly, there are some churches that exist today that distort God’s word to make life comfortable for them or miserable for others.  That is not and has never been what God’s word is about!

Now the good.  I could recount hundreds of personal stories and all kinds of business stories I have read about God’s word impacting lives.  I could talk a bunch about Zig Ziglar who built an ’empire’ based on Christian values.  He is famous for saying, ‘You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”  I heard him say he got that right out of God’s word.   He ran his business and his life on the Golden Rule. (Here’s a great interview with Zig about his faith.)

Christian values simply means we are basing our lives on the Bible.  We have a foundation to God’s word that undergirds. . . upholds or braces…our entire life.  We use God’s word as the ‘glasses’ by which we see the world.  They tell us how we worship God, treat people, and interact with the world we live in.

The only way we can live by God’s word is to know what is says.  2 Timothy 2:15 reminds us that we must “correctly handle the word of truth.”

As Christian entrepreneurs, we must understand God’s word foundationally.  We must dig down deep into the solid foundational truth of what God says.  If God does not directly state a fact, we must be cautious to tread where only angels dare walk.

The Bible is not a convenient book.  It is however a book that will shape your life and your business in ways that will stand the test of time.  I think back to Zig Ziglar.  He left this world and what he built still stands and still grows because he based his entire concept of life on God’s word.

How good is your biblical understanding of God’s word?  How much do you really know about what the Bible says about business?  How much time do you spend digging into God’s word to find how He wants you to run your business and live your life?

If you need some help getting started, we have a free membership to help you get a strong foundation to what God says about the Bible.  If you would rather, I have a 10 minute webinar that helps you understand how to understand the Bible better.

Whatever you do, take action.

I urge you, plead you!  Until we dig into God’s word and apply His principles to our business and personal lives, Christians will never be respected as the Children of God we are called to be.  Do something TODAY, Christian!

 

Biblical values are the core beliefs that guide everything we do in life and business as a Christian. #ChristianEntrepreneur #ChristianBusiness Click To Tweet

 

Here’s some additional reading:

questions for business growth3 Questions to ask to see if your business is ready to grow

When we talk about business growth I don’t want to focus on profits.  We want to focus on helping people.  When our goal is to help others with our business, we are prepped to take on whatever blessings God chooses to give us.

There are many places in the Bible that mention the fact that God will give us what we can handle and He will equip us to handle the next step when we are faithful.  Look at the latter part of Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

With that verse in mind, ask yourself these three questions to see if your business is ready to grow.

 

Question 1: Stability

If there was a tornado or other natural disaster that caused your business to not work for 2-3 months, would you be able to still pay employees and cover your expenses?

 

Question 2: Responsibility

If you got 2 new employees, do you have enough work for them to do, training to get them started and processes for them to follow? (If you have a large workforce, change the number to 20 or 200 according to the size of your business.  Think in number of a 20% workforce increase.)

 

Question 3: Sustainability

If you got 10 new customers a month, could your current system handle the additional workload without bogging down? (If you are a bigger company change the number accordingly to 100. Think about a 20% increase.)

 

If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, you are well on your way to growth.  Now all you need to do is beef us getting your message out.  We will talk about that in our next article.

 

Asking the right questions gets you the right answers. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

steps to grow your business3 Things you need to understand to grow your business

Growing a business takes a lot of work.  We all hope for the day our business becomes viral and people flock to us like moths to a flame, but in reality, growing a business takes a bit of time.  It takes a foundational understanding of what we do, who we do it for and how to tell them about it.

 

Understand what you sell in business

I know a lot of business owners think they know what they sell.  I am always surprised to see that they really don’t know what they are selling.

Let’s say you sell new cars.  There are thousands of different cars to choose from, so how do you stand out?  You stand out by understanding what you are selling.  If you have a minivan, you may be selling safety and security.  If you have a sports car, you may be selling power and prestige.

Here’s a quick exercise.  Take your product or service and define how your customer’s life is different after they use your product.  Then, ask “Why?”  Do that five levels deep.  Once you do that, you will truly understand what you are really selling.

For example, let’s say you sell minivans.  Your customers have a car that fits all of their family together.  Why?  Because having enough room is important.  Why? So the kids don’t fight.  Why? So they have a more peaceful ride. Why? So the parents can concentrate on the road.  Why? Because family is important and we want them to be safe.

If you follow those five levels you will see that family is important to people who buy minivans.  You are selling the idea of family, unity, peace and security.  You are not just selling a minivan.

 

Understand who you do business for

Once we have nailed down exactly what it is that we are selling, we must understand who needs it most.  Our customers are the people who are going to purchase and if you get this one wrong, we will always have a struggling business.

First thing we must get right is how they think and talk.  Each group of customers speaks a different language.  They may all speak English, but what they say is different.

A twenty something new mother is going to use different vernacular than a forty something female executive.  They are the same general persona, but they have widely different circles of influence, habits and values.  What is important to one may not be as important to both of them.

It is important that we really nail down our ‘best type’ of customer.  If we try to get everyone into our business, we will find ourselves doing a lot of work and getting minimal results.

Think about fishing.  Depending on what type of fish you want, you need the right type waters (lake, river, ect.), the right bait, the right hooks, the right equipment to get where they are, and the right timing.

The more we understand our ideal customer, the better we can talk to them and help them with the business that we have.

Here’s a quick exercise.  Write down 10 things your ideal customer values.  Write down 10 habits they may have.  Where do they shop?  What do they drive?  Where do they spend leisure time? Etc.  Once you nail down those 20 items.  Write a ‘day in the life of’ you ideal customer.  What does their life look like before they use your business and what will it look like after they use your business?

 

Understand how to tell customers about your business

Everyone likes to buy but no one likes to be sold.  People love getting a good deal and finding things that help them with problems they have in everyday life.  They love businesses that can speak their language and if they can relate to your business, they will be a loyal customer for life.

I can’t express this hard enough.  If we want our customers to buy from us, they must like us.  They must feel like we understand them and are there to help them.  No longer are we in the days of yelling the loudest to get the most attention, we are in the days of whispering in the ears of good friends and engaging them on a personal level.

You have a message about how you can help your customers.  They want to know how you can help them.  Put together the two ideas from above.  Do they fit?  If not, fix the one that makes the most sense.  Remember, people love to buy things that help their lives and solve pain points they feel, but they only listen to you if they feel like you are talking directly to them.

 

Putting it all together

Here is a real life example. I was talking to an insurance sales man.  Their motto of their company was “for all your insurance needs from A to Z” (slightly altered to protect the company).  I asked what they did different that all the other companies that say they have all kinds of insurance.

He said, “Well, we are Christian and we pray for our people.  We have all the insurance they need and can probably get them a better rate than they are currently getting.”

I asked, “Many insurance agents offer all types of insurance and a lot of them say they can save you money. What are you doing differently?  Are your customers Christian?”

He said, “Why, yes, most of them are. I don’t guess I ever realized that.”

I suggested, “Then why don’t you emphasize your Christianity?  I would put our some ads, geared at Christians that said, ‘When was the last time your insurance agent prayed for you?’ When people know you are praying for them, they realize that you really care for them and that is different than other insurance agents.”

He said he had never thought of that and would have to do some work to see if he could get more people.

See, he wasn’t just selling insurance, there are thousands of people doing that.  He was selling a company that prayed for you.  In essence, he was selling insurance agents who care about you and your needs so much they will take time to pray for you.

Being in business as a Christian may not mean you only have Christian customers, but some do. You must identify your ideal customer and how you can help them.  Then, and only then, will you be ready to tell them what you have and how you can help them.

 

People love to buy, but they hate being sold. #Christianbusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

 

 

reasons Christians fail in businessAfter studying a lot of businesses over the years, I have pinned down three main reasons Christians are not growing in their business.

Let me warn you.  I am not writing to offend anyone.  I am writing based on seeing what is working in business in the lives of Christian entrepreneurs.

Take time to read each of these. Don’t just read the title and skim the rest.  Read the meat of the story.  Only when Christian business owners dig into their faith can they dig into the blessings of God for their lives and their busiensses.

 

 

Christian Business Failure #1: Prayer is not integral to the business

We touched base on this in our previous article, but I want to take it a step further.  Let me start by telling you a story.

I was working as a minister at a church.  While leaving one day there was a lady in the parking lot, chain smoking.  She looked up at me and with a straight face said, “I’m praying that God will deliver me from smoking.”  I replied, “It might help if you stop buying cigarettes.”

I have no doubt God can deliver people from all kinds of habits, but we must take action.  We can’t just sit in our office and wait for God to bless us, we have to get out there and see the opportunities that God provides.  We can only do that when we have a constant, consistent prayer conversation with the God of the universe.

I know people who get up at three in the morning to pray for an hour.  That is awesome!  But don’t let it stop there.  Let prayer become integrated into your entire day.  When the phone rings, ask God for wisdom and the ability to help whoever is on the other end of the line before you answer it.

Praying for business is more than just expecting God to grow your business.  Praying for your business means you are seeking God with your whole heart, mind, body and soul.  You are looking to God as your CEO and asking Him before making any decisions.

Here’s a quick exercise: For one day, write down all the things that you can pray for.  Start with employees, customers and vendors.  Then, write down products, divisions and locations.  Write down your website and all your marketing endeavors.

The list will be a long list and that is perfectly OK.  Now you have a road map of things you can pray for.  By doing this, you have set your mind to be aware of how God is working in and through you all day as you work His business.

 

Christian Business Failure #2: Attitude is not focused on true success

Attitude can be a double edged sword.  On one side, we have such a great attitude that we leave God aside because of our ego.  On the other side, we have such a lowly view of life because we are a sinner.  There is balance between the two.

First and foremost, you are child of God.  You are child of the King.  You are child of the King of Kings.  That alone should give you confidence. Yet, that should not give us license to do whatever we want.

We are stewards of the King’s people.  We are to take care of them as if they were our own.  God has entrusted us with the responsibility of the lives He has put in our business.

So what does all of this have to do with attitude? We can read books about positive thinking.  We can watch lots of motivational videos.  Yet none of those really make a lasting impression until we realize our value and our place in this universe.

God gave you the ability to run a business.  He gave you skills and opportunities.  He gave you a brain to learn what you need to learn to grow your faith and your business.  He gave you the wisdom to turn to Him, rely on Him and trust Him.

Our attitude should line up with Jesus who humbled Himself as a Servant.  We are to serve others out of our gratitude to God for all He has done for us.  Our attitude must come from our identity in God, not our success in this world.

Here’s an exercise: (You may want to do this on paper and out of the view of others.)  Write down everyone in your business that you are better than.  Seriously, check your heart.  Who do you feel like you are better than?  Write their name or initials and why you are better than them.  Then, go back through the list.  How is that same person better than you?

This is a tough exercise, but partnered with praying for these people, this could become a powerful exercise for you in your business.  You will see the value in yourself and the value others add.  If you want to take it a step further, take a day to be grateful for each person and send them a hand written note of thanks.  Encourage their character and edify them.

 

Christian Business Failure #3: You is the center of the business

I know this is a tough article for some of us.  God wants to chisel away at the things that are holding us back from doing all that He has called us to do.  As long as we hold on to the comfortable chains that bind us, we will never grow in the blessings that God wants to bring us.

When we have ‘you’ as the center of our business our business will never grow.  Yes, there are large personalities that grew large businesses, only to quickly fail with one attack to their character.

A business built on ‘you’ is centered on what you can do and what you want to do.  It does not take into consideration all that God has done or His guidance.  It focuses on making a buck so that ‘my’ life can be better.

I struggle with this just like everyone else.  This week I have turned down at least three great ideas that would have made me a lot of money.  I could jump on some fad or sell some hot product, but in the end that does not bring glory to God.

God is the center of all we do as Christians.  When we place ourselves on the throne instead of God, our values and ideas become warped.  I am sure you can think of some movie or TV series where the wrong king got on the throne and ruined the entire kingdom.

God gifted us with skills, talents and aspirations.  He does not want us to give up our personality to serve Him. He wants to complete that personality.  He wants to help make you the best you possible.  He created you and knows the best version of who you are.

Business may be started as a solo act, but as we grow we need to let others take on parts of our business.  Delegation is a valuable skill and you can see it all throughout the Bible.  God gave you a personality, to bring other personalities and help more people with His business.

Business is about helping people and bringing Glory to God.  When ‘you’ is the center of the business, all glory goes to self.  The business will slowly depreciate and the ‘you’ that is on top will soon find that it is lonely at the top.  It does not need to be that way if you line up who you are with who God is.

Here’s an exercise: Write down all of the things that make you special.  Write down your talents, skill, and training. Look on your resume or your LinkedIn profile.  Write down any rewards, certifications or awards.  I want you to write down everything that you are proud of.  It should be a long list and that is a good thing because God has made you a blessed person.

Now, take that list and one by one, check off each as you thank God for giving you that gift.  Take a few days.  Really pray and thank God for that item on your list.  Pray more than just a single sentence prayer.  Pray for everything that surrounds that item.  You will begin to see God’s interweaving your life to make you the person you are today.

 

Conclusion

Whew!  This was a tough article to write.  I have prayed and really searched for the words that I felt like God wanted you to hear.  It is not easy to line up our lives with what God wants, but it is worth it.

Take each of the above exercises seriously.  Do one a week for the next three weeks even if you think you are on course with God.  It will strengthen your resolve to be a Christian first and a business owner second.  It will line your business up with God and His plans for your business.  It will show God that you really think He is the CEO .

 

God gave you a personality to help people with His business. #ChristianEntrepreneur #ChristianBusiness Click To Tweet

marketing strategyA marketing strategy is a growth mechanism for any business. Christian entrepreneurs understand they need to pray for growth and plan for it with an on-going, effective marketing strategy.

We’ve talked about business strategy and communication strategy.  Today, we get practical by putting these two together in a marketing strategy that brings in new customers.  Let’s define marketing.

Marketing is making sure those who need what you have know about it.

In other words, you help solve a problem in your business and it is your responsibility to make sure potential customers know that you can help them.

Before we go too far, let me say that marketing and advertising are different.  Advertising is the item you are using to market.  A flyer is an advertisement.  Marketing is strategically placing that flyer at the most effective location and making sure it has the most effective draw to your ideal customer.

 

Marketing Strategy

Marketing strategy is lining up your ideal customer with your ideal message.  Start with your customer and their needs.  Then, add in relevant and specific messages in a way that communicates with them.  We have other articles about your ideal customer and communicating well in marketing (see links at the bottom of this article).

When you refer back to your mission and vision, you should see a consistent pattern in how you help people.  The way to help people is the key to marketing.  It is not about shouting from the roof tops, though that may work for some businesses.  It is about creating a message that specifically and effectively talks to your ideal customer and helps them with a pain in their life.

 

Marketing Channels

An effective marketing strategy understands there are many marketing channels.  Each of these channels must line up for a specific message for your customer.  Basically, you must decide where the most effective location for your marketing would be best suited.  You have to define where your customers go to get information to solve the problem your business solves.

Here are some marketing channels to think about:

  • Webpage (SEO, Content marketing, etc.)
  • Social media
  • Coupon books
  • Billboards
  • Flyers/Mailer/Direct Mail
  • Whitepapers and reports
  • Webinars and video series
  • Commercials on TV or Internet
  • Digital ads (PPC or CPC)

 

I don’t want to inundate you with ideas.  I have a list of over 100 ways I can help businesses market their company.  My background is in helping businesses find ideal ways to grow through marketing.

As a matter of fact, you can have one million ways, but until you know your goals and understand your customer, it will be hard to create a marketing strategy.  You must start with a specific goal.  There will be some trial and error, but you must engage your customer to understand them better.  Then, you must go where they go and make it seem as though you are everywhere they are.

 

Marketing strategy is creating a message that is an integral part of your customer’s life. #Christianbusiness #Christianentrepreneur Click To Tweet

 

How to set up your marketing strategy

  1. Start with your vision and mission.  Set a goal that you want from your marketing.
  2. Once you have a goal, set up a valuable sequence to bring your buyers from knowing about your product to actually buying your product.  You must know where your customers are in the buyer’s journey.
  3. Do your research.  Talk to current customers.  Engage online in forums and social media to really get to know your customer.  Look for pain points and common terms among your potential customers.
  4. Based on your research develop a marketing sequence.  Post your ads where they will get the most attraction and make sure it lines up with the terms and pain points of your potential customers.
  5. Evaluate each piece of your marketing to test its effectiveness.  Make sure any calls or emails that you gather have tracking so you know where your customers find out about your business.
  6. Once you know the most effective source, put more time and effort into developing a solid campaign.

 

Conclusion

It may sound like a lot to do, but you are fine tuning how you communicate with your customer.  You are defining how they hear about you and making sure you can help them.  As Christians, we should want to help as many people as possible.  It is our duty and responsibility to treat people with kindness and integrity.

Marketing strategies are simply aligning how you help with where your customer are.  Whether it is online, at a location or some other idea you found when doing your research, get to where your customers are and make sure they know how you can help them.  Do it in a way that benefits your customers and not just for your sales.

Here are some articles you may find helpful:

If you need a professional to help you design a solid effective marketing campaign for your business, here is a link to a Christian Marketing Consultant I trust.  Just tell them you found him on Christian Business Revolution and he’ll give you a great deal.

how to develop a communication strategyCommunication strategies are how your business is represented to the world.

Communication is something that we rarely think about when we talk about strategies.  Instead of strategies, you may call these procedures or policies.  They are a set of standards that represent the business at all levels, but strategies make policies and procedures integral to the business.

Here is what the Bible says as a reminder about how we communicate: Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Your communication comes from how you treat the janitorial staff, how you speak to workers who mess up and even how you dress.  For this communication strategy, we are going to focus on verbal and text communication.

Some things to think for communication include how phones are answered, who can respond on social media, who handles bad reviews, what kind of words are used within the workplace, etc.  You can group these communication strategies into two strategies: internal and external.

 

Internal communication

Internal communication is what happens within the doors of your business. It is how employees interact with each other and how leadership spreads information.  Don’t take for granted the internal communications.

Here are some questions for internal communication strategies:

  • Can employees freely express themselves?  Is cussing allowed?
  • Are employees allowed to use personal cell phones to communicate?
  • What are the consequences of breaking the communication policies?
  • Is there a structure in place that allows the CEO to announce specials, promotions, changes in policy, etc?
  • Do employees know the organization structure and who to go to if there is a problem or challenge?

These are just a few of the hundreds of questions that business owners need to have in place.  As Christians, I would hope you want to provide a positive atmosphere and wouldn’t allow cussing and disrespectful comments.  Understanding that we are all created in the image of God allows us to elevate the value of people within our business.

Answering these questions helps us identify policies.  Policies become strategies when they tie into the mission and vision of your business.  Instead of posting a long list of rules, why not have a single strategy of internal communication.  It may be something simple.

The key to a good strategy is to have a memorable way of communicating it.  Remember our article from yesterday?  We talked about Coca-Cola.  One of their visions is:

“Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.”

This is part of their vision statement and it helps them communicate internally.

 

External Communication

External communication is a bit more complicated.  It is every type of communication that a company has with customers, through advertising, sales and even how the phone is answered.  Your words and actions need to be consistent across all areas of your business.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • Is there a script on how to answer the phone?
  • Do sales people get to create their own presentations or are they required to use a standard presentation?
  • Is there a check and balance for each piece of advertising that is created by the company?
  • Do employees know what is allowed when responding to bad reviews, negative comments on social media or personal attacks online?
  • Do you have a policy about personal social media accounts for employees?

Again, we could list hundreds of questions, but having a solid understanding of how your company communicates with the world is important.  Think of it this way, each person who communicates from your business does so as an ambassador for your company.

In the ancient world, an ambassador was an extension of a king.  They could save or start wars with a single word or two.  Even seemingly non-offensive words could become crucial when an ambassador was away.

JCPenney’s had some major issues in the last few years.  They created cute shirts, but those shirts were met with major controversy.  Those shirts seemed innocent enough, but when the word got out they were taken with a whole other context.  Their marketing department did not have a good way to vet their ideas and this happened more than once. (more about marketing strategies in our next article)

Imagine an employee of yours responding to a hateful comment on your social media.  Then, it gets blown out of proportion and your company suffers because of a careless communication from an employee.  This happened a few weeks ago with a very reputable company.

External communication strategies must take into account the culture of the business.  What works for one company may not work for your company.  The strategy may be multi-leveled based on the position of the employee.  Your strategy may represent casual friendliness, or business professional or anywhere in between.  As a business owner, you must have a good grasp on your business culture and how to readily communicate the values of your business.

 

Developing communication strategies

There are so many ways to create strategies and each business is different.  Let me start by saying that a communication strategy starts with developing a strong hiring process.  The better the employee represents your company, the better they will be in the long run.  Having a solid training program to communicate by example will also show the demeanor and culture of your business.

Start with the C level employees even if it is just yourself.  Pull out your mission and vision.  Look at your values and see if you can put your business culture into a single sentence.  You can use a series of words if that best suits your business.  Just make it simple and easy to remember.

Post your communication standards in relevant places.  Give incentives for knowing the values of the company.  Reward workers for exemplifying your business culture.  Remember the old adage: what gets rewarded, gets repeated.

 

Conclusion

Above all of your communications keep in mind your Christian values.  Ultimately, you are representing God with your business.  You are an ambassador for Him and everything you do is a reflection on who He is.  When people know you are a Christian company, they will look to see if they can prove it.

I want to remind you that you don’t need to be preachy or use Bible verses on everything you communicate.  There is nothing wrong with doing that, but your business culture may reach into the world and need to be a light that guides not a light that blinds.  Be wise with your words and your actions.

Here’s a quick reminder from the Bible: Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

 

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