Four Things I Learned About Marketing (and Life) from My Dad

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Some people think that marketing is a bad word, particularly when it comes to church. It’s not so for me. My father was in marketing in one way or another for his entire career. When I was growing up, he worked at Provident Bank of Maryland. I used to go with him on visits to bank branches, production meetings, and I even got to be in a few commercials. Later on, my dad went into the radio business, working as a general manager and in sales. I went on radio remotes, hung out in the office, and even got on the air a couple times. These are some lessons I learned about marketing (and life) from my dad.

For my dad, marketing was always about people — developing relationships of trust. The product, the media, and the profits were important, but not as important as the people. In all relationships, trust and loyalty are paramount, and your handshake and word should be as binding as a contract.

It’s all relationships. For my dad, marketing was always about people — developing relationships of trust with your clients and customers. I’d see how he interacted with clients and customers and people at the bank. It was the same way he interacted with people outside of work. It was real, authentic, human, and it was all part of a whole. The product, the media, and the profits were important, but not as important as the people. In all relationships, trust and loyalty are paramount, and your handshake and word should be as binding as a contract.

Don’t just tell your story, live your story. No matter where he worked, my father could tell the story of the place — whether it was a community bank or a country music station. He could tell you what they were about, what made them unique, why it mattered. He not only told the story; he internalized it. He lived and breathed it, so that it became his own. What is your congregation’s story? Spend time with your people and find out. Embody what makes it unique.

Master different and new media. Starting out, my dad used multiple types of media in his marketing at the bank: radio, print, and television. Mid-career he became a specialist in radio, mastering the medium. You can’t rely on just one type of media to communicate, and you have to be ready to learn and master new ones. Today that’s social media.

Know what others are doing. When he was in radio, my dad and his sales team would monitor other competing radio stations to learn what they were doing and who was advertising with them. They did this to stay competitive, but they got new ideas too. Follow what others in your field are doing. Learn from them, use what works for you, and give credit where credit is due.


This article is adapted from Keith’s blog found at https://pastorkeithanderson.net/.

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About Author

Keith Anderson is pastor at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church near Philadelphia and author of the recently published The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World (Morehouse Publishing, 2015)


The Premier Doctor of Ministry in Church Leadership Excellence from Wesley Theological Seminary and the Lewis Center