Ministry and marketing seem like an oil and water thing to many poeple. Can’t mix. Shouldn’t mix. WON’T mix. Marketing is the “M” word when it comes to ministry.

The problem is that even if you don’t think in marketing terms about your ministry, you will end up doing marketing things anyway, even if you call them by another name. If we didn’t have marketing, we’d have to invent it. So, let’s just make sure we are defining marketing usefully. 

Peter Drucker – management guru, wise man, Christian – said that business, or organizations, only do two things. Only two. Innovation and marketing. Innovation. And marketing. Innovation is about creating products that are distinctively better in some way from other similar products.  This is an activity that can go on whether or not anyone ever hears about the product, tries the product, buys the product, or uses the product. Marketing, on the other hand, is about all these things…and our interactions with members, customers, and community. Marketing is about all aspects of product communication, packaging, delivery, and service. Now, we can debate this all day, but I’m hoping you will allow that the world will be simpler if use the word “marketing” to encompass all these organizational functions. And simpler is good, and useful.

What people say about marketing

Marketing is advertising. Marketing is promotion. Marketing is when you are selling. Marketing is where you pressure people to buy or agree with something they don’t want in the first place. Not very helpful. Better that we should use “marketing” to help us see the commonalities between all these things, namely, that they are about communication and relationships.

So, regardless of audience or message or medium, when we communicate with our members, partners, beneficiaries, or public, we are doing marketing. Marketing is about fitting our products (and services) to those who need and can use them most. We do this through messaging, content, targeted delivery, meeting expectations, and rewarding…all the stuff of marketing.

For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them….I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings. I Corinthians 9: 19, 22b-23 (NRSV)

There is no better description of how ministry and marketing work together for good.

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