I’m Catholic and, as such, I pay close attention to the goings-on of the Pope. I have to admit, Pope Francis has intrigued me like no Pope in my lifetime.
He’s original, he’s unscripted, he’s humble, and he’s a breath of fresh air.
I also happen to think there are a number of lessons that entrepreneurs and small business marketers can learn from Pope Francis. Here are three such lessons:
1) Go Lean.
Pope Francis has done a number of things to shake up the “traditions” of the Papacy. One of those things is begging off the ostentatious “trappings” that have been the staple of many of his predecessors. While his predecessors made their initial experiences in ornate robes and stoles, Pope Francis opted for a simple white cassock. He has paid his own hotel bill, and opts to wear ordinary black shoes — unlike Pope Benedict XVI, who preferred red shoes from Prada.
Entrepreneurs can learn from this example. Lavish office space, promotional “swag” and other extraneous spending might make you feel like a powerful CEO — but it’s taking away from the bottom line of your young business.
2) Tear Down the Walls Between You and Your Customers.
History has shown that the Pope is in need of heavy security. However, Pope Francis has done his best to ensure that his security detail doesn’t get between him and the people. The day after his election, he refused his armored car. He regularly mingles with bystanders and shakes hands in crowds.
It was Pope Francis who recently said,
“I want to see the Church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools, or structures.”
What can entrepreneurs learn from this? Simple: Be accessible to your customers. Don’t be afraid to engage with your marketing program. You should be the face of your brand — show your customers the personal side of your company. Humanize it. Modern online tools allow us to engage in a very personal way with our customers. It’s this type of authentic engagement that builds loyal brand advocates.
3) Go Off Script
On a number of issues, Pope Francis has been known to go “off script.” While I’m sure it drives his media team crazy — it has worked to create a real “brand” of authenticity. When I say “off script”, I certainly don’t mean rambling language that is counter to your company’s principles. Instead, I’m talking about authentic language that doesn’t sound canned and lawyer-approved.
As Raymond Arroyo recently wrote in National Review:
“The new pope is at once blunt and simple — much like those receiving his message.”
Exactly. You can do the same with your company. Again, it’s about humanizing your brand, and getting personal with your customers.
In summary, entrepreneurs can learn a lot from Pope Francis about being authentic, humanizing your brand, and running a lean operation.
Can you think of any additional lessons the Pope’s actions can teach us? Agree or disagree with this post? Let us know in the comments!