Welcome to the second in a series of guest bloggers from my friends and colleagues—all experts in their respective fields. As I wrote last week, these three topics are integral to today’s successful synagogues. Yet, contextualizing them for congregations is not always so easy. But this week’s guest blogger, Rose McKinney, founder and C.E.O. of Pineapple Reputation Management, provides a congregational-friendly framework for thinking about marketing (hint: think “story telling”).
Have Faith in the Merits of Marketing
Rose McKinney, Pineapple RM
Mention marketing within a corporate setting and heads nod excitedly and knowingly as executives with MBAs toss about buzz words like metric dashboards, sales funnel and lead conversion. Mention marketing during a non-profit board meeting and committee people get giddy with possibilities for fundraising and membership drives. Mention marketing within faith communities and wrinkles appear on peoples’ brows and then the comments of indignation: “Oh, no, we don’t believe in selling.”
That’s when I know there is a disconnect. Marketing and sales are often lumped together because good marketing creates an environment in which sales can take place, but make no mistake – marketing is about relationships and storytelling, it’s about community, and sales is about monetary transaction.
No worries, faith communities are not alone in confusing the merits of marketing. If you’re leery as to where this is going, let me mention a few familiar types of groups that now market themselves yet previously were diametrically opposed to such a notion.
For example, law firms used to eschew marketing as though it was less than professional; today, professional-services providers recognize the need to attract and retail loyal clientele – followers, if you will. These followers are enticed with compelling stories about relationships, a mainstay of marketing.
Similarly, schools never felt the need to market. They just assumed that students would attend their local public school or church school. Today, schools offer specialties, so they need to encourage inter- and intra-district enrollment. They accomplish this through a combination of story-telling strategies including brand-reputation, public relations and marketing all with an emphasis on the importance of relationships.
I hope these examples have quickly established a case for why marketing is key to an organization’s success, and I hope the subsequent paragraphs will give you reason to consider marketing imperative to building and sustaining strong congregations.
It all starts with defining and articulating what your congregation stands for. What are its core values? What differentiates it from other groups? Perhaps more importantly, do these ideas resonate with members and potential members? Will they sense this is a group to which they want to belong? And what does belonging mean today?
The answers to these questions are stories about the relationship that you’re offering. These are stories about your leaders and members. These are stories about all the good things that you do in the community. Together, these create value and validity and this leads to joining, engaging, participating, and supporting your synagogue’s mission because they feel connected to it.
Good marketing relies on balance between what the congregations thinks, says and does and what the community’s perception. In marketing terms, the former is the brand; the latter is its reputation. Again, stories are the connection point between words and actions. When words and actions align, you’ve got an awesome story to tell … and one that others will share with their friends and family.
Rose McKinney, APR, is founder and CEO of PineappleRM, a Twin Cities-based communications firm that takes a fresh approach to brand-reputation.
Tags: Corporate, Faith Communities, leadership, Marketing, Pineapple RM, Rose McKinney