There’s a well-known Internet marketing expert with whom I have consulted on a few occasions. His name is Rich Schefren. I first learned about Rich when I read the Internet Business Manifesto, a report that he wrote and released in 2006. Rich is one of two experts in the marketing world who have had the most influence over me. The other marketing expert is Dan Kennedy.
Both Rich and Dan teach that, in order to influence a person to purchase your product or service, you have to connect with the person on both an emotional and an intellectual level. At a marketing conference where Rich spoke a couple of years ago, he shared a true story about a friend of his (John) who lives in New York and is adept at identifying the type of message that is needed to persuade a person to make a buying decision.
On one occasion, John was going out on a date for the first time with a woman he really liked. He made reservations at an expensive upscale New York restaurant, picked up his date, and parked his car about a block away from the restaurant. While he and his date were walking to the restaurant, they passed a homeless man who was standing on a sidewalk near the restaurant. The message on the homeless man’s sign said, “Homeless, Please Help.”
In an attempt to impress his date, John stopped and told the homeless man that he could make a lot more money if he changed the message on his sign. John told the homeless man that if he allowed John to change the message, John would give him two dollars, and when John was done eating at the restaurant, if the homeless man was still in the same place using John’s message, John would give him an additional five dollars.
The homeless man agreed, and John wrote a different message on the other side of the sign. Two hours later, when John and his date came out of the restaurant, they approached the homeless man and asked how he had done. The man told them that he had collected sixty dollars while they were in the restaurant, which was ten to twelve times more than he normally would have collected over a similar two-hour time period.
When John offered to pay the homeless man the agreed-upon five dollars, he refused the money and insisted instead on paying John ten dollars to compensate him for his valuable advice. Can you guess the message on the sign? It was,
“What if YOU were hungry?”
For any person who was about to walk into the upscale restaurant to eat an expensive meal, the message on the sign had both an emotional and an intellectual appeal. On an emotional level, the sign spoke to the heart of the person who read it. On an intellectual level, a person who was about to indulge in a meal that most people would not be able to afford would feel compelled to contribute money to the homeless man so he could buy some food for himself.
I thought about the story of the homeless man and the message that John advised him to use when I read about the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope of the Catholic Church. After his election, Cardinal Bergoglio was introduced to the world as Pope Francis.
In a world where people no longer have any confidence or trust in their leaders, Pope Francis is universally praised by individuals, journalists, and political leaders from all over the world. It is obvious that he connects with these people on both an emotional and an intellectual level. Every article I have read, including the articles written by anti-Catholic journalists, acknowledges that Pope Francis is a man of God. Everyone I’ve talked to who has read about him, including non-Catholics, feels as though he is the real deal.
What is it about this man that is emotionally and intellectually appealing? What is it about him that appealed to at least two-thirds of the 115 cardinals who voted?
It’s his Christ-like humility.
When he was made a cardinal in 2001, he refused to live in the church mansion in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Instead, he moved into a downtown apartment that was heated by a small stove. Unlike other cardinals, he chose to clean his own residence and cook for himself. The motto he chose for his archdiocese was “Miserando Atque Eligendo,” which means “Lowly but Chosen.”
Last year, Cardinal Bergoglio chastised the priests in his country for forgetting that Jesus Christ ate with sinners and bathed lepers. He told the priests, “Jesus teaches us another way: Go out and share your testimony. Go out and interact with your brothers. Go out and share.” He practiced what he preached by routinely taking public transportation whenever he traveled locally so he could interact with and be close to the people.
In his first meeting with the media after being chosen as the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said that as the votes were stacking up in his favor, a fellow cardinal from Brazil told him, “Don’t forget the poor.” After it became clear that he had won, Francis said, “Right away, with regard to the poor, I thought of St. Francis of Assisi, then I thought of war. Francis loved peace and that is how the name came to me.”
The good news is that this humble man is no wimp. He’s as courageous as a jungle lion. In 2010, he spoke out against legislation that was introduced by the Argentine government to allow same-sex marriage. In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires he wrote, “Let’s not be naive. We’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
We need to pray for this holy man of God. We also need to help him spread the message of Christ throughout the world.