Marketing and Religion – Your 5-Point Strategy for Success

By Lee Collins •  Updated: 05/15/18 •  4 min read
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Have you ever noticed good marketing has a lot in common with religion?

In fact, we can usually boil the success of either successful marketing or religion down to 5 critical factors:

  1. The story must be emotional
  2. It must make BIG promises
  3. It must appeal to fear (and/or greed)
  4. It must offer hope
  5. It must promise people the opportunity to rise above others – and be superior to them

Let me give you a few examples to illustrate the point…

“Jesus died for your sins”

How could the story be more emotional than someone else dying so we could be cleansed of our sins? This statement is simple – positive – compelling. And most people agree the ultimate sacrifice is death. So the emotions flow pretty quickly when you tell people that someone DIED so they can be cleansed and forgiven of knocking off that Piggly Wiggly last week, or stealing Aunt Becky’s famous pecan pie recipe.

Apple is probably the best in the world at this. Almost all their marketing is focused on making you believe that owning an Apple product will make your life better. Take a look at this Apple commercial and see how many emotional cues you can pick out:

“Salvation now”

It must make BIG promises. Religious salvation is a pretty big promise. Right?

Let’s consider two examples of big promises from the Apple video. A deaf person communicating with their significant other when traveling suggests that without Apple this would not be possible. A new graduate showing her grandparents her cap and gown – sharing a once-in-a-lifetime moment together, even when apart. The BIG promise of connectivity and sharing. The salvation from separation.

(Not exactly salvation, but inside the right framework plays well to our example.)

“If you are not saved you will burn in hell forever”

It must appeal to fear (and/or greed). Fire. Huge fear for people. Especially when it’s an eternal fire that never goes out and is searing everlasting pain down to your soul without possibility of relief. Ever. Scared yet?

How’s this to elicit fear: “If you don’t have an iPhone you may die before you ever see your unborn child”. Remember the soldier in the barracks? Wow.

“Repent now and have eternal life”

I mean who wants to burn in hell forever? Nobody I know. So now that you scared the bejeezus out of them you gotta give them hope, otherwise what is the point? They both must offer hope. “Sure you can burn in hell forever, or you can repent and instead go to the land of milk and honey.”

Duh. I don’t even like milk but that sounds better than burning in hell forever.

Buying an Apple product may not be repenting, but they do encourage you to lay aside all other technology. If not you will forever be stuck with second-rate technology that is not engineered to their exacting standards. “Sure you could have a Droid, but wouldn’t you really rather have an iPhone?”

Technology heaven or technology hell. You decide.

“The meek shall inherit the earth”

And now that they have hope, turn it up a notch and give them the opportunity to rise above others – and be superior to them. If you’ve been picked on or teased your whole life then this is the ultimate payback. “Sure you win here on earth but while you burn in hell I’ll be eating grapes in a city made of gold!”

That’s powerful.

When a brand creates this “religious” feeling it transcends the transaction and becomes part of their customer’s identity. Apple, Land Rover, Rolex, Porsche, and many other luxury brands are all examples of this.

Do you have the guts to incorporate this into your business?

Lee Collins

Lee Collins is a former Air Force Network Systems Engineer and Fortune 500 Corporate VP - who is best known as an early pioneer of Direct Response Marketing on the Internet. He has over 24+ years experience running operations for multiple multi-million dollar marketing, software, SEO, financial, and business coaching companies. When Lee isn't helping his private clients solve big (and small) marketing and operations problems, Lee is most likely heading up into the mountains in his fully-equipped Jeep Gladiator. Or just gone fishing.