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With a strong brand and a robust branding strategy, there are many ways to deliver valuable brand benefits to customers.

If, however, usage is declining for one of the best ways your brand delivers customer benefits, should your turnaround branding strategy focus on cutting back in providing it?

Or should you go out of your way to invite people to use it and make it incredibly easy for them to do so?

What Turnaround Branding Strategy Works?

Traffic-Circle

There’s no disputing the decline among Roman Catholics participating in the sacrament of reconciliation, or confession, as it is more commonly known. Within the Catholic Church, this is the sacrament where an individual confesses their known sins to a priest, receiving a penance and absolution (or forgiveness) for their sins.

As someone trying to go to confession more frequently, I can attest to the incredible impact ones feels afterward. The description you hear most frequently is you feel as if you are walking a few feet off the ground after confession.

With fewer priests available, most US Catholic parishes only offer confession for perhaps 45 minutes on Saturday afternoon. Not exactly prime time for people to break away from their weekend lives to head to church.

So one of the best impacts a brand (the Catholic Church) can deliver to its customers (church members) is rationed and available only during one inconvenient time, all (apparently) because it’s in declining demand.

Which leads to asking, “How do they think it will ever increase in demand again when it is hardly made available?”

Abundance as a Turnaround Branding Strategy

Because of trying to go to confession more, I regularly travel to a church in town offering confession thirty minutes before every weekday mass. When traveling for business, I seek out churches offering confession frequently; some make it available for multiple hours every day.

And guess what?

In all those parishes, there is always a line of people waiting to go to confession.

Why isn’t that surprising?

A Personal Invitation’s Impact

I walked to a church less than a mile away from my hotel in Cambridge, MA for a 6 p.m. evening mass after delivering the closing keynote at the Social Media Strategies Summit last week. At the end of mass in the small chapel, Fr. Raymond Kiley announced, “If you would like, I would be honored to hear your confession after mass in the back pew.”

Turnaround-Branding-Strategy-Abundance

Given how my week was going, his invitation was exactly what I needed to hear. I was struggling with a couple of personal situations, and Fr. Ray spent time with me, offered me counsel, and even gave me a huge hug after granting me absolution.

Talk about walking three feet off the ground!

So what happened in that small chapel in Cambridge, MASS?

Beyond availability, Fr. Ray extended an invitation (through his openness to hear confessions) and made it special (“I would be honored to hear your confession”). He said he extends this invitation at the end of every mass, and that Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston told Boston priests earlier this year that it is always an honor to hear confessions and extend absolution.

Are you trying to convert us?

If you’re interested in the Catholic Church, and would like to ask questions, I’m more than delighted to email or talk with you.

My reason for sharing this story, however, is from a brand strategy perspective. If in assessing your brand strategy you see one of the most important aspects in decline, should you start limiting it? Or, should you . . .

  • Make it more available?
  • Make it more convenient to access?
  • Make it easier to get started?
  • Be more overt in letting customers know about its benefits?
  • Invite them in a more special way to try (or re-try) it?

There’s no one answer to these questions that fits every situation.

But from what I see in Catholic parishes around the country, increasing access, convenience, the ease of trial, communication about the benefits, and the impact of how you invite them to participate can be a winning turnaround branding strategy with a powerful impact in reversing declining usage trends!  – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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