What does it mean to ‘reach the world’ with your message? Whether you’re a writer, teacher, preacher, speaker, entrepreneur or fundraiser, ‘reaching the world’ means touching your widest possible audience, effectively, with your message.
By ‘widest possible audience’ I mean the greatest possible population of those predisposed to be receptive to your message. Marketers call this ‘target marketing’. I call it, ‘planting seeds in the garden and not on the road’.
Speaking of planting seed, the parable of the sower from the Bible can act as an analogy for what we’re talking about:
“3. And He told them many things in parables saying, “Behold the sower of the seed came out to sow. 4. And while he was sowing some indeed fell by the way, and when the birds came they devoured them. 5. But some fell upon the rocky ground where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up right away because it had no depth of soil: 6. and when the sun rose it was burned, and because it did not have a root it was withered. 7. But some fell upon thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. 8. But some fell upon good ground, and gave fruit, on the one hand a hundred times, on another sixty, and another thirty.” (Matthew 13:3-8 One New Man Bible)
From the parable, you get the impression that the sower just broadcast the seed and let it fall where it may. That may be true, but he was in his field and not at the beach, in the desert or on the road. He was sowing seed in the place most likely to find fertile ground.
Comparing the sower in the parable to you reaching your audience, what are the questions you need to ask?
- What’s the purpose of sowing? What is the goal – what are you trying to accomplish with your message? What response should a receptive audience have to your message?
- Is the seed any good? Is your message worthy of sowing? It should have some value, in some way benefit your audience; that goes without saying. But is your message crafted and delivered to your very best ability? Did you go over it (just like the reader/listener/viewer will) after you created it? Did you go over it a second time; how about a third. Too often, I’ve been interrupted in the middle of a great story by a misspelled or misplaced word, a confusing sentence, or a paragraph that just doesn’t belong. Advertising great David Ogilvy said, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.” Make your product as good as you can make it. Good seed produces a good crop.
- Are you in the right field? Who is your audience? Where is the best ground for sowing your seed? Some seed may fall on the path or on stony soil or amongst the weeds but aim for the field. Where can you find those most receptive to your message? Where do they aggregate?
- What is the best manner of sowing? How do you broadcast the seed most effectively? How do you get it to stick to the soil, so the soil embraces the seed and allows it to take root? Once you’ve found your audience, how do you reach it? Ask yourself, ‘If I was my audience why should I care about this message?’ When you’re trying to reach a new audience remember this simple rule – it’s all about them, not you; give them what they’re looking for, not your biography.
- How do you nurture the seed once it sprouts? As the seed takes root and becomes a seedling and as it grows to maturity, what activities are necessary to ensure its healthy growth? Once you’ve reached your audience, how do you engage them? How do you turn mildly interested spectators into fans?
- Bringing in the harvest. The whole point of sowing is to harvest. To produce, as the Bible says, ” … a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what has been sown.” Once you’ve turned mildly interested spectators into fans, how do you grow them into evangelists? Marketers call this ‘viral marketing’. I call it paying attention to the parable and putting it to practice. “The one who has ears must listen continually.” (Matthew 13:9 One New Man Bible)
How do you ‘reach the world’ with your message?