What I Learned About Marketing In My Seminary Preaching Class!

by Dr. Bill Nieporte

The distinguished professor of preaching stood before the class of young “preacher-boys” (and a few “preacher-girls”)
and began his lecture. Two decades earlier he’d preached weekly to over 3000 people in his west Texas church.

When he “taught” potential preachers how to preach, he spoke as a person of authority. He’d been there. In fact, he still
was there. Almost each weekend he’d fly across the country to preach in some of the largest churches in North America.

He spoke with a deep that resonated across the lecture hall. It was the kind of voice that would hush in a moment a crowd
and entice them to listen.

“There are lots of things that I will can teach you about preaching,” he said.

“I can teach you many different ways to craft a sermon so you can gain a hearing as you communicate the gospel.”

He was silent for a few moments. He looked around the room to be certain he had everyone’s attention. He did.

“But while I will teach you the latest theory in homiletics, I must say from my experience that there is one formula for preaching that almost always works.”

“When you begin you sermon tell the what you are going to say!”

“In the body of the sermon tell them what you said you’d tell them!”

“When you concluded tell them what you told them!”

Go back and read those statements again!

I believe that this simple formula for preaching is based on good marketing theory. In fact, some of the most successful
sales letters I’ve read have used this formula.

Let’s explore this a bit more and see how this simple formula might help you create powerful and effective sales
letters for your business.


Before we dive directly into the “formula,” let’s pause to remember that both for preaching and for sales the
assumption is that the message to be shared is GOOD NEWS for the hearer.

For the *Christian Preacher* the content of the sermon is the GOSPEL–a word which literally means GOOD NEWS. The
preacher wants to communicate to his or her audience the BENEFITS of believing and acting upon the message that is

For the *Marketer* them content of the sales letter is the GOOD NEWS associated with the product or service that is
being sold. The marketers wants his or her audience to see the BENEFITS of acting upon or responding to the sales
letter’s invitation to buy.

In both cases–the focus of the entire letter is the potential BENEFIT of the message for the audience.

As a preacher I can talk all day about the “attributes of God,” but if I don’t show how these can become personalized
blessings for the person.

As a marketer I can write all about the features of a particulate product, but if I don’t communicate how the
person can benefit, then I am wasting their time and my effort.

So we begin with the focus of communicating BENEFITS. With that in mind we move toward the…


In this fast-paced world people seldom have the time to focus on every advertisement and sales letter that crosses
their path. This is especially true for those of us on the Internet who are been condition for almost instant
gratification. If your web page or email letter does not immediately capture their attention and entice them look
further–then the sale will never be made.

In your headline you need to tell them WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY about how the product will benefit their needs. You’ve
probably got less than 30 seconds to make folks want to read the rest of your letter–else they will delete your email or
click to another page.

Here’s a page that gets the job done in about 15 seconds.

Visit over and read the headline at

Here’s the headline:

Give Us 47 Second Of Your Time And We’ll Show Your
How Your Can Get Your Very Own Wedbiste Just Like This
One…PLUS,,,How You Can Avoid Wasting Thousands Of Dollars
Trying To Get Started Online!

Right here–at the very outset of his letter-Dave Isaac’s and Aaron Leighton  (and myself) have communicated the CORE BENEFIT that that will be expanded in the remainder of the sales letter. The letter immediately answers the question: ‘What do you have for me?’

By getting this product (FREE, BTW) you benefit of getting started in a low-rish business presence.

This is basic communication stuff!

If I don’t grab their attention early in my sermon–their minds will wander and it will be extremely difficult to
BRING THEM BACK half way through the message.

If you web page or sales letter does not immediately GRAB THEIR ATTENTION, then they will be gone within 30 seconds
and you will probably never get them back.

Make sure that your marketing pieces begin with a BENEFIT RICH headline that tells the reader how they will benefit if
they read your letter and act upon its invitation. Tell them immediately what you have that will benefit them, or the
sale will be lost.


With the headline this site tells visitors how to create a successful business presence online.

The site does a masterful job.

It describes the feature AND BENEFITS of the products. When get done reading the the letter you will know…

… exactly what you will get if you respond to the offer

… the specific features of  products on the site with their

… testimonials of how others have benefited.


You’ve got their attention.

You’ve told them about the benefits of the product.

Next it is time to recap those benefits in such a fashion that you prompt you audience toward a specific action.

By specific I mean–well, I mean SPECIFIC.

When I preach I ask for people to give a specific response to the content of the sermon. If I preach for conversion I
invite people to respond to an altar call. If I preach about world missions I invite them to give more to mission causes.

The conclusion of a sales letter at http://ezinesuccess you will see a recap of the benefits and then an invite with EXACT instructions on how to get what it offer.   Too many otherwise GREAT sales letters fail because the leave prospects and customers
hanging, trying to figure out how to get what the seller is offering.

If they need to click a certain link and complete an order form, then say: CLICK HERE NOW and complete the order form.

If they need to call a phone number and place an order, give them that number and the hours that somebody will be available to take the call.

Make it easy for them to acquire the benefits they or offering–or they won’t.

The formula for good preaching and effective marketing are very similar.

To communicate the benefits you want your audience to enjoy…

… tell them what you are going to tell them

… tell them

… then tell them quickly what you told them–and EXACTLY what they need to do to enjoy these benefits.


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Dr. Bill Nieporte is a pastor and life-coach.  An active blogger, Nieporte’s ministry blog call be found at
He also contributes to,, and

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