Let’s be honest, lots of Christians have a problem with the term ‘marketing’. People see the job as trying to force people to buy something that they don’t really want or need. It’s even worse for people who work in marketing positions as we are often held accountable for everything that’s wrong in the world.
Most of the misunderstanding around marketing is what we actually do. The assumption is that marketers spend most of their time making television ads or trying to sell things to folk over the telephone. Either that or we are all trained in some kind of black art that means that the right sign, in the right colour, using the right words will make everyone part with all their money to buy something that they really don’t need. The truth is people who practice marketing do none of that.
Most of the academic definitions of what marketing actually is go out of the window when you start to consider the case of non-profit organisations. Even the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s (CIM) definition doesn’t work “Marketing is the management process that identifies, anticipates and satisfies customer requirements profitably”, because if there’s one thing that Wycliffe isn’t looking to do is make a profit – at least, not a financial profit to satisfy a group of shareholders. However, there’s plenty of managing processes involved in trying to get Bibles into the hands of people around the world.
My new role is probably better thought of in terms of communications. How does Wycliffe best communicate with Christians of all denominations to enable Bible translation around the world? Shouldn’t be too difficult should it? [yes, that was a joke].
The problem is, despite the fact that Wycliffe are involved in something like 80% of all translation projects around the world, most Christians under the age of 30 haven’t a clue who they are or what they do; and it’s fairly obvious that you can’t expect people to support something they’ve not heard of.
If problem number one is the lack of awareness, problem two is that everyone is competing for the attention of 20 and 30 somethings. Wycliffe aren’t just competing against other Christian organisations, they have to get through the noise and distractions of iPods, Facebook and games consoles, just the same as any other advertiser. It’s a mistake to think that you will only be competing against similar organisations, your competitors are anyone who is trying to get the attention of your target market.
Finally, there’s a need to put the right message in the right place in the right way. Words are very powerful, so are images, but they don’t always mean the same thing to the same people. If we use the term ‘support’ some people will assume you’re asking them to volunteer to go overseas, others will think you’re asking for money and still others will think you want to be added to their prayer list. Now, the truth of the matter is that Wycliffe needs people to provide support in all three ways and to share these support needs with others to grow the network.
That’s where I come in. To make sure that Wycliffe are communicating in the right way with the right people, and making sure that the message is heard.
[Find out more about how to support Wycliffe here]