Tuesday, November 10
9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Strobel Room (McMillan Center 209)
No charge; lunch is provided.
Consider this conundrum: You have something of enormous value, and you want to give it away. It’s something so life-giving, so enriching, so fundamentally good for the well-being of your community that the pharmaceutical industry would pay billions if they could render it in pill form. And yet every week you open your doors to share it with your neighbors—for free—but few people actually come. In some cases, fewer and fewer people come. How could this be?
In our society, where the promise of wellness and the value of “free” are inextricably woven through the culture, how could it be you are not faced with a long line out the door every Sunday? What’s going on here? These are not new questions, but this class approaches them from a rather different perspective. Namely, we will look at “church” with the same cold, hard eye used everywhere else in the American marketplace of products, services and ideas. We will look from the outside in. And we will ask the tough questions:
- What are you offering?
- What needs do you meet?
- What problems do you solve?
- How are you communicating?
- Who is/are your target audience?
- How are you currently perceived?
- Who or what are your competitors?
- What does the rejecter data tell you?
- What are the outcomes you strive for?
- Why should we go to church on Sunday?
Is this the commodification of church? No. But it is placing church in a realistic environment in which communication is key to sharing values. From your website and social media presence, to your flyers and community events, we will look at the ways in which you communicate your core values to a variety of audiences, from the reliable churchgoers to the cynical millennials.
In short, we have all seen the Pew Research data. This class is about turning that data around—for the good of us all.
What Are We Saying To The World?
In section one, we will review several randomly chosen church websites and social media profiles and evaluate their messages based on a common series of questions, with the final question: Why would someone go to church here? The purpose of this exercise is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of church “messaging.” We then set about addressing common weaknesses.
- Analogue from the marketing world: Defining the “product, service or idea”
Is Anyone Listening?
In marketing, “rejecter data” is a combination of qualitative and quantitative information that helps us understand why people shun a product or service. There is ample qualitative data on why people are not going to church—and without understanding that data, there is very little chance of overcoming the objections and rejections of a growing body of religiously unaffiliated people.
» Analogue from the marketing world: Needs assessment and core rejecter data
Who Are We Talking To?
Knowing your audience is critical to communicating effectively. And in most cases, there is not just one definable audience. How do you reach different age, interest and rejecter groups with your budget? Targeted communication is now much easier, so long as you truly understand who you are trying to reach, the nature of their needs and how you can address them.
» Analogue from the marketing world: Psychographics and market segmentation
What Are We Trying To Achieve?
The Kingdom of Heaven is an outcome ministers and theologians understand, but to a millennial the term is likely too lofty (and hierarchical). So we need a translation. What do you offer the community, and the individual? Are there other places where a person can achieve a similar outcome? In other words, what do you offer that can’t be realized elsewhere?
We have come full circle.
Instructor Damian M. Geddry
Damian M. Geddry comes to United from one of the most competitive sectors in the U.S. economy: automotive. After 35 years of automotive marketing, P.R., and advertising experience—including 10 years at Grey New York, one of the world’s largest agencies, and a Cannes Lions International award for digital advertising—Geddry is turning his attention to more pressing matters. With a master’s degree from Claremont School of Theology, he is consulting with Christian churches, helping them connect to the spiritual hunger so pervasive, and yet elusive, in our culture.
Geddry also runs a non-profit in Orange County, Calif., that provides housing for people disabled by AIDS. He has been an active board member at The Gooden Center, an Episcopal drug and alcohol recovery center in Pasadena, and he consults for The Guibord Center in L.A., where he is helping to develop interreligious presentations on birth, coming-of-age, marriage and death rituals. Geddry was raised Roman Catholic and considers mountain biking a spiritual practice. He was born in Ithaca, N.Y., grew up in Laguna Beach, Calif., and currently lives in Claremont, Calif.