Marketing gets a bad rap. With telemarketers, pushy sales people, and lousy marketing tactics it’s no wonder people bristle at the word. But the concept itself isn’t the problem. Marketing happens whether you plan it or not.
It gets especially tricky when you start talking about the church and marketing. People tend to get up in the arms at the idea of a pastor as salesman. Perhaps it’s a bit too close to home.
Maybe you think the church shouldn’t market itself. And if by that you mean the church shouldn’t use deceptive tactics, shouldn’t use dishonest methods, shouldn’t misrepresent itself to get people in the door, then you really mean the church shouldn’t use poor marketing efforts.
Marketing is the process of promoting, selling and distributing goods or services. It’s a business concept, but something very similar happens in the church. As much as we bristle at comparing evangelism to a sales pitch, there are certain similarities.
Of course if you picture the very worst salesman on commission, then that will negatively influence your impression of evangelists. But the best salesman is a far cry from our stereotypes. Frankly, we have to have sales people, and they’re not all jerks.
Likewise, the process of marketing happens no matter what. We can either realize that and make sure our marketing doesn’t suck, or we can ignore it and live in ignorance.
Remember that the goal here isn’t to introduce slick and polished business marketing that ruthlessly targets pockets and cashes in on souls. That’s marketing that sucks. Lousy clip art and typos are just as bad as glossy photos of people prettier than your congregation. The goal is being authentic and effective.