Magazine article Marketing

Seeing the Church as Customer

Magazine article Marketing

Seeing the Church as Customer

Article excerpt

Seeing the church as customer

We now have a new Archbishop of Canterbury, and the evangelical wing of the Anglican church thinks it has friends in high places. Or perhaps the Anglo Catholics think the evangelicals now have a friend in low places.

High church or low church, it all coincides with the great debate on the role of TV advertising for religion.

Suddenly, marketing the church is a national issue, and I fear that a fundamental error could be made over the nature of the "buyer/seller" relationship.

Is Dr Carey the new marketing director of the Church of England? Are his bishops sales directors, and local vicars the door-to-door salesmen for the church?

It all depends upon whether you or I are customers -- current or potential -- of the Church of England. Because markets are defined by the customer base. If we are customers, surely good marketing practice would have the church segmenting us into socio-economic groups and targeting messages accordingly. Or using psychographics, or perhaps targeting us by Acorn. Are two-car households more pious than one-car households? Are ABs more interested in the after-life than DEs?

Tailor make the Christian message to meet proven demand

In business, successful companies make what they sell, rather than try to sell what they make. They are marketing-led, not production-led. Shouldn't the church therefore begin by researching what people say they most need in spiritual terms, and then tailor make the Christian message to meet that proven demand?

If research suggests that people can no longer accept the miracles, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the concept of the Holy Trinity . . . then change the emphasis of what's on offer, like political parties do with manifestos.

I hope this ghastly scenario will ring alarm bells not church bells in Lambeth Palace, because it reveals neither a clear understanding of spirituality nor of marketing. …

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