Friday, 16 December 2011

The Marketing of Christ;How churches apply the 7P's of service marketing

Marketing is an unfamiliar concept for many nonprofit organizations especially churches. However I have been observing churches lately. Their  understand of marketing is more than just the old sense of making a winning a new member or obtaining a donation but rather retaining their ‘customer’ by providing value to him or her. Churches have been opening in Nairobi rapidly, on top of any new business malls others are opening up or sub branches of churches that have been existent. Others are spreading their wings regionally to tap into other areas that have massive potential. The corporate church targets the growing middle class population, which is hungry for success, dominance and wealth.
 This is when I looked at basically how churches in Nairobi are applying the 7Ps of service marketing.
Product.
The product here is intangible. Basically this is what brings you to the church and what the church offers you spiritually, mentally and psychologically. Some churches have services for the teens, youths, middle aged people, special services and seminars for women, men, kids..etc. This helps the church differentiate itself from the other one. Successful churches have different products to target various groups of consumers in their target market. Churches today offer snacks, counseling services and address emerging issues such as investment, business breakfast networking meetings, dinners and such just to make sure the members get to know each other.

Pricing.
Being a church, I would say this is what you give back to God or the pastor for his services. Some bigger churches with a sizeable congregation of well off people make around 2M per Sunday. NPC, ridgeways Baptist…do such every Sunday. The ability to position the church to a specific market will determine its success. However even the middle class and the poor all give to God. A growing number are also promising great breakthroughs and instant miracles to the low income bracket segment, people have been told to plant ‘seeds’ so that God answers their prayers and now with all the technology, you can send your offering via MPESA & ZAP.


Promotion.
Some of the promotional strategies some churches have adopted here are through learning to write news releases and sending them regularly to the local media outlets. Getting the word out through fliers and brochures, Public Service Announcements which many Christian Radio Stations offer, and local involvement in areas where your target audience. Churches are now offering sermons on DVD in case you missed a service. Well off churches can afford to pull up a billboard in a strategic location to pass the message.TV stations and FM radio have pastors who pay up to broadcast their sermons, every serious church is doing this today. Churches and pastors too have websites, regularly updated, very active on social media to engage the online congregation and keep them posted on your progress and whatever the church is up to.
Placement.
This is basically the location.
Churches have taken the time to write down characteristics, demographics and any information they can to identify their target group. This helps them set up churches in places that are convenient and accessible to their target clientele; with this they will be able to connect and communicate to the people they want to reach. Churches are buying huge chunks of land on prime areas such as kiambu road and setting up state of the art churches to tap into a certain group. The churches in the down town Nairobi also having massive following because they are also very convenient and accessible to certain people. Look at the Helicopter of Christ? Some churches are expanding to other regions like Nakuru, Kisumu and Mombasa that are experiencing rapid growth in infrastructure and in population. With the devolved government churches with enough financial muscle may open up branches in each county. TAKE THE GOSPEL TO THE PEOPLE!
People.
The people represent the ministry. An essential ingredient to any service provision is the use of appropriate staff and people. Recruiting the right staff and training them appropriately in the delivery of their service is essential if the organization wants to obtain a form of competitive advantage. Consumers make judgments and deliver perceptions of the service based on the employees they interact with. Staff should have the appropriate interpersonal skills, aptitude, and service knowledge to provide the service that consumers are paying for. Churches now have warm ushers, ever smiling just to show you around, get you a sit and ensure you are comfortable. Churches have invested heavily on proper staff, Youth pastors, counselors, and trainers etc to deliver the right service to the congregation.

Process
Refers to the systems used to assist the organization in delivering the service. In some churches we have  tea for first time visitors as opposed to back in the days when tea was for the pastor and his wife and guests. Other churches provide snacks, water or maybe fruits to their congregation during sermons. The process in which the service is delivered is of utmost importance to the church however varies from one church to the other church

Physical evidence.
This tangible evidence helps deliver the service element. Creates an impression of the church, its corporate image and its meant to be appealing to  the target congregation or market. Churches have adopted latest equipment for worship and gospel especially to appeal to the sensitive middle class and a growing population of urban dwellers who think church is boring just to make it ‘cool’ for them. Pastors in some well off churches use tablets to deliver their sermons. Sermons and songs are also projected on walls to make it easy for everyone to follow through.The seats are also comfortable and well maintained. We have neatly arranged seminar rooms and offices for the pastors.

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