I'm going out on a bit of a limb here, so please bear with me and give this idea a chance. One strategy that I strongly advocate is that we should learn about marketing from every source available. Sometimes ideas come from businesses, other times they come from Psychology literature, while other times they come from non-profit organizations. In fact, we can often learn from marketing in unexpected places. Today, I want to discuss what we can learn from church marketing. Now, I'm specifically not getting into any discussion of religion or advocating any one religion or another, but there are some lessons we can glean from what's going on in modern churches.
The marketing of churches crops up in the news all the time, and it's as controversial (if not more so) as in the library world. There's actually a blog devoted to the topic called Church Marketing Sucks. In doing some reading on the site, I found that there are a lot of similarities between church marketing and library marketing:
- Like libraries, churches are often trying to expand their reach in their communities to draw in non-users.
- Monetary profit is not the ultimate measure of success for libraries or churches and there is usually no direct cost for services
- Both libraries and churches are "selling" what is, for some, an unsought product.
"Marketing is the study and practice of better, faster, cheaper and friendlier. "Making things go more smoothly," as I put it to my students. The product or service a company provides is the "what" of its existence. Marketing is the "how."'Also, under the section "Is Marketing a Dirty Word?," the author argues,
"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."And,
"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."The blog is well worth taking a look at for the marketing discussions and analysis that takes place. Again, librarians can find marketing inspiration anywhere and everywhere, so keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to look at marketing in different lights that enrich our own points-of-view.