Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is Marketing a Dirty Word?-Elizabeth Givens

“Great post, even if I don't like your title,” was the first comment I read on Blog #2.

I love it when people push back on a blog post! The title was “Marketing yourself and your ministry.” Missionaries are biased against the word marketing, but it describes our communication -- even if we don't like the negative connotations. “Marketing smacks of lies, or at least, half-truths” another comment says. “Missionaries should be different.”

Maybe we are deluding ourselves. We don’t like the word, so we pretend we’re not marketing. But I am marketing when I determine which of my friends will get email notes from me and who will get paper letters. Marketing is deciding to send out a prayer letter right January 2 rather than dropping a letter in the middle of Christmas cards. Marketing is always saying thank you to my donors.

“Oh, no,” you say. “That’s not marketing!” Oh yes, I say, that IS marketing. Though I agree that we are not selling a product, we are in sales. We’re offering God’s people a chance to get involved in God’s Kingdom work. Isn’t it high pressure sales that we react against? If I want to get something, it’s not marketing when I’m given information that answers my questions. The same reader is correct when she says, “We need to write honestly and openly, though, not with the idea that we are a product we need to sell to others.”

I think the bottom line is semantics. We are biased. Marketing, in our thinking, smacks of pressure sales, of phone calls we didn’t want, of products we feel we got snookered into buying. I’d like a better word, but I don’t know one. So maybe I need to let God revamp my definition of the word marketing.

I’ve just spent the morning writing “marketing” materials. My goal is that the Lord of the Harvest will use what I’ve written to secure prayer, funding, and people for the least-reached of the world. I have no underhanded motives – but as I wrote, I targeted each piece to a different audience. I can be talking about the same exact ministry but pastors don’t need or want the same information as a college student. That’s marketing, ahem, whether I like it or not.

I think someone hit on Paul about his marketing techniques way back in the 1st century. Paul loved his support team and he communicated well, but he wrote to the Thessalonians, “For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:3ff

I’ll end where I began. I love it when people push back on a blog post!


Alida said...

It doesn't feel like a dirty word any more... thanks for helping to clarify my thoughts on this!

joy & blessings,

Jamie Jo said...

A dirty word? Now that struck me as funny. Thanks for your encouragement to be strategic and articulate in our communications, whatever we choose to call them.

We also appreciate any help you can offer to get the word out about WOTH.

So tell us, how can we persuade people who truly seem interested in our work (or the ministry of WOTH, for example) to take the next step and commit to become a financial partner? That's where most of us wimp out. We are clueless how to "close the deal."

Maybe we still feel it is unspiritual to ask people to give. We are much more comfortable with simply praying and hoping.

OliveTree said...

I actually loved your title "Marketing Yourself and Your Ministry" because it reminds me that we live in a market place world, and hopefully we are reaching those in the market place. It's a matter of semantics, as you say.

Your post was a good reminder of the importance of quality commuication in a world of information overload. I want to pursue excellence as a means of glorifying God and reaching others.

Thanks for your great posts. They've been helpful reminders.

Wandering words said...

It's good to know I've cleaned up "marketing" a little bit. Actually, I find it great fun to think through just who will get which communication from us. Long years ago, when most of our communication was paper, I had an imaginary "committee" of five people I mentally ran every letter by before I sent it. "They" were really picky! Now it is so much easier to sort and choose who gets what. Sounds like I need to do a post on "closing the sale." Oh no, that's a marketing term too...


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