2006-08-02

AOL is going Freebie

AOL has been losing members at an alarming rate. AOL has lost nine million customers in almost four years, slumping from a high of 26.7 million in September 2002 to 17.7 million at the end of June this year. And the rate of people leaving AOL is increasing.

So what does AOL do? They turn their backs on their well established subscription model. AOL will offer its distinctive services such as email and web security free to anyone with broadband, relying on the revenues generated by online advertising. Google, Yahoo! and MSN are already playing in this market, which was worth an estimated $8.3bn in the US last year and is outgrowing all other media. More info on AOL's switch here.

The good news is - No more AOL disks stuffing your mail box! Whoo Hoo! Man I hate those things.

But this change in AOL's approach got me to thinking. AOL is going with the "if you can't beat them, join them" approach. And I guess sometimes that's ok, maybe even called for. But I wonder if the church does this too. Instead of offering something distinctive and unique, we look at the world and say, "Hey look what they are doing, we should do that too." Now sometimes this could be ok. For example, if we look at Coca-Cola and say they are advertising, maybe the church should advertise too. That's reasonable and this is not a moral issue. But there are times when we shouldn't do this. We need to stay true to our beliefs, the things that make us followers of Jesus, the things that make us unique. We don't need to make excuses, or water down our ideals in an attempt to reach others.

The trick is to keep the main thing the main thing. (adapted from Stephen R. Covey)

Ponderings_,

2 comments:

Bewley said...

Hey Bill,

Kinda cool but what exactly is a blog? I'm gonna need a lesson in blogging. Is blogging a word? is it in the dictionary? :-)

lb

harold said...

Congratulations, Bill! I know your blogs will be good... Great decision... I may follow you...

The "if you can't beat them, join them" syndrome has always been in my book a "survival" technique which at times may be ok... just for "survival" purposes (lol)... when you walk into churches like that, it looks like it, it feels like it... Businesses like that lack vibrancy and fresh energy...

The two questions businesses and churches (families, parents, marriages, society) need to answer are always the same... The outcomes of those answers define success or failure...

1. Purpose-Essence-The reason for being-Is it relevant? Is there something unique? Is there a niche? Very tough... Sometimes it happens in a split second... some times it takes years...

2.Wrapping-Marketing-How will the product-service "speak" to the audience... Will they understand the "language"? I personally thing here is where AOL and many churches are missing the boat...

Jesus is the best example on how God answered those two questions... Relevancy... John 10:10... and the "language" was a person that the establishment repudiated because they had already "joined what they couldn't beat" (Hellenism)... Jesus (God-The product-Life) marketed the product in a totally new way... I don't believe that a new little song, mixed with old hymns, a little screen, some audio visual, and some freebes (aol) will do the job...

New wine cannot be contained in old containers... and that's what the church is at! God is doing a wonderful work (new wine) with new containers, right now!!!

hjd