If you take a college marketing class, one of the first things you will learn is the Four P’s. Product, place, price, and promotion. Product is what you are selling. The place is where you are selling it. Price is how much you are selling it for. Lastly, promotion is the tool you use to make your product known. How about church marketing? What are the 4P’s of it?
In the church, the product is the gospel, the place is anywhere the gospel is shared, price is harder to define, but could best be described as the level of commitment necessary to become a member of the congregation, and promotion is comprised of witnessing advertising, and anything the community or the press say about your church. While this definition is large in scope, it boils down to the process of how the product (the gospel) is delivered to the customer (the church) and then what they do or say about it (promotion). Richard Reising summarized marketing in a more simplified way in his book, Church Marketing 101, which I will be using for this paper. He wrote, “Marketing is the management of perception…Managing people’s perceptions toward the end that they will respond to Christ and His church” (Reising, pg. 23).
Perception is how people feel about a thing. When I write “coffee,” how many people first thought of Starbucks? It is not that Starbucks has the best coffee, but they have managed to shape your perception of coffee sellers to think of them before you think of Tully’s, Peet’s, or any other competitor. If we were to try the same test with the word “church,” what would the result be? Some might think Baptist while others Catholic. Some might think locally while others think of a church in another country. If we were to be more specific and ask, what church do you think of when I mention a city and a state? An effective church would be the one you think of first. If your church is not the first one people would think of, then keep reading because the next part of marketing is management.
Working with our definition of marketing as the management of perception, we must understand that management is understanding where your church is today in regards to people’s perception, knowing where you want your church to be, and then coming up with a plan to achieve that level of perception. Reising writes, “At the very core of marketing is (1) the ability to understand how people perceive you today; (2) to have a vision for how you would like them to perceive you (within their own frame of reference) and (3) to make decisive strides and adjustments in your way of doing and communicating things to ensure that people ultimately learn to perceive you as you desire” (pg. 24).
This is part three of a multi-part series I will be releasing on church marketing. Stay tuned for more on what church marketing is, laying a proper foundation, and where to begin.
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