Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Marketing Paradigm

       In the fast paced world of today, people want things their way. Sales statistics and marketing surveys only enforce this statement. It is no longer "business as usual" but a new paradigm is bursting forth at dramatic speed. Marketing concepts that worked only a few years ago are now not working so well. It is time to rapidly re-address past views and thinking concerning marketing and advertising for churches, as well as ministry and missions. As Bishop Larry Goodpaster, former Alabama-West Florida Conference bishop, once said, "The way ministry was done 10 years ago no longer works as it did then." In the remainder of this blog, as I refer to "customer" it can also be thought of as potential member (for churches).
      Many church leaders lament that attendance is declining and interest in church is descending. But, so often, those same church leaders are unwilling to change or listen to the potential customer's needs and wants. Today it is about what the customer wants- not necessarily what they need. What they need will have to be fed to them while they are receiving what they want. This is not to say that the Gospel messages should be altered or watered down. Certainly not! But it should be remembered that the application may change, but the principle remains the same.
      The most important factor for consumers and customers today are the experience itself and the information available about that experience. It is your customer's perception of the experience that you must improve. We must listen to the customer.The old adage, "The customer is always right is so applicable today, even if they are wrong." This is involved with the motivation of the customer-why they are here.To begin to better understand motivation it is not enough to look only at demographics. Psychographics and topology should be looked at also to get a better, more rounded view of the potential "customer."
      Another relevant factor in selling and marketing has to do with the bias that organizations have for the type of data they collect; which, very often, is only demographic data. But demographic data alone does not give much insight into customer behavior and motivations. No amount of research can ever tell you exactly what people will do. Research is great at measuring what has already happened. Past behavior is a good indication of possible future actions but it is not a guarantee. Customers and potential customers should be profiled. Despite the negative perception that profiling has received, it is important for organizations to profile the customers (especially potential customers). Another factor to consider in relation to customer motivational behavior is Psychographics.
      Psychographics is a term that describes consumers or audience members on the basis of psychological characteristics initially determined by standardized tests. Psychographics is the study of personality, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. The use of focus groups and specialized research into local psychographics helps executives answer one of the most important questions about potential consumers: Are they willing to try something new, and specifically, are they willing to try your new product?-- behavioral data holds the most promise for creating predictive models of customer behavior.
      Topology is the final area that should be considered. The topology of the local church should be investigated thoroughly. Topology is the study of the landscape of connections. How does the church connect to the local community? How does the church connect to members in the community?
      It all boils down to the fact that people want to be treated the way they want to be treated. In the marketing world the Golden Rule has become slightly tarnished.-"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The problem with the Golden Rule is that we become the yardsticks against which we measure the needs of another. Obviously, not everyone wants the same things or wishes to be treated in the same way.The persuasive effectiveness of applying this "rewritten" golden rule- do for others as they would like it done to them-- shows us that we truly delight people when we treat them as they would like to be treated. When people are treated like they want to be treated they will be happy people. Happy people will probably be happy repeat customers.