How Do I Get People to Buy-In? A Formula

I am a Marketing junkie. My degree is in Marketing. I love aligning a brand with purpose and identity. I remember countless days applying principles of marketing in the church during my college career.

One thing that I get asked about a lot is “How do I get people to buy-in?”

How do we get people to buy-in to our particular product, organization, or ministry? In poker, the buy-in is the amount of money that you need to enter a particular game. Most games have minimum or maximum buy-in rates.

To determine the amount of buy-in for each individual you must consider:

Value of Ministry  x  Relationship – Cost = Amount of Buy-In

or simplified:

V(R)–C = $$$

C = “Cost”

So the first thing that you will need to look at in your organization is the price of its initial buy-in. Is it astronomically high and you leave a lot of people that might be beneficial partners out because of the high cost? Or is the cost so low that every single person you know can get in, even though you might have 200,000 applicants for a single position. You have to ask yourself, what kind of cost are we asking people to pay up front?

The second part is, are you attracting the right people? What if you came to the table expecting a buy-in for a Bingo game? You would probably look really foolish when people throw out chips instead of calling out B-8.

The reality is that sometimes the communication of what you are actually representing is confusing, unclear, and even off-putting. People might not even consider bringing their chips to the table if your new gardening ministry is being communicated as a yard work ministry. I mean, who likes yard work?

Not only that, but sometimes people communicate things in crazy ways. If you look desperate, then I probably will look twice in your direction, because I respond to need. However, I am probably in the minority in that situation. Desperation, most of the time for people, equals failing. So how are you communicating the vision of your product, organization, or even ministry?

So first shot for you is figuring out these two things:

What initial cost am I asking people to pay?
What am I communicating for people to buy-in to, exactly?

V = “Value”

Have you ever attempted to quantify the value of your product, service or organization? Have you thought about what would life be like without “x” in their life? How can you expect people to buy-in to what you are repping if you don’t have the slightest idea of how valuable “x” is?

This idea of value is always interesting to me. It’s why I love marketing. Few people really understand the value that their product or service has in the lives of their “customers”. But a ton of people misappropriate the value that they hold in people’s lives—most of the time feeling as if the value is bigger than its real value.

But to help give you an appropriate measuring stick, here is the breakdown that I use for value:

V = CV (current value) + FV (future value) – a (alternatives)

Now generally people would include alternatives in the costs part of the overall formula. You most certainly can for sure; however, it is important to note that if people associate the value of your product with those that are similar, then it is something that needs to play into your value equation.

Current Value: Are you adding value to people presently? Are you continuing to promise future benefits but never give them anything for the here and now? People might be asking: When are we going to get moving, when are we going to start seeing some results?

Future Value: Is your product only living for the here and now? Are people limited with the amount of time that they feel like they will spend in your ministry or organization? Do people feel like there is zero future with “x”?

Alternatives: Don’t limit yourself here to only things that you can see as direct competition. For Example, Family Dinner has changed. It used to be that you would show news at around 5-6 timeframe, but now media has expanded it’s reach. So a family’s time or money is something that you should also consider when thinking about alternatives. In your ministry, what other opportunities could people pursue.

For value, always remember this:

Vision casting isn’t the answer. Having a vision that you can cast is the answer. For most, it’s not the ability to cast vision that needs help. It’s the vision and value of the vision.

Think about the value of what you are offering to people and up the ante.

R = “Relationships”

Relationship to me is the most important factor in this entire equation. The depth of relationship that you have with people really increases your influence with them. It’s important to continually invest in people. When you come into a new organization, most people will give you this first piece of advice, “Build relationships, with people” and that’s true. You should continually look to build and deepen relationships with people in your organization. Insert this cliché here: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” and that pretty much sums it up.

Author’s Note

Now this formula is not for you to manipulate people. But I hope that you begin to look at the formula and see some areas that you can improve upon.  

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J.C. Thompson is the 5th & 6th Grade Director at Brookwood Church in Simpsonville, SC, one of Outreach magazine’s Top 100 Largest Churches in America.