The Tension of Marketing for a Christian

marketing

marketing

I asked via Twitter and Facebook this question:

How do you balance blessing the Kingdom of God with marketing your wares? Is there such a thing?

Here are the responses:

1. A constant and careful balancing act.

2. The question implies you can’t do both at the same time; I’d check that assumption. It’s more of a healthy tension than opposite objectives.

3. That’s one thing I get nervous about. Whew.

4. I keep asking and asking myself (and praying)…am I promoting the Lord or me?…am I seeking glory or giving it to Him? …Am I marketing myself or temporal stuff or seeking to draw all men to Him. If He’s not in it…I don’t want it.

It’s a tension/balancing act Christians face. I don’t know if I’ve balanced well (maybe I’ve camped more in the tension camp. My shoulders would say so.)

Marketing reminds me of a painful analogy my husband and I heard when we were raising support to be church planters in France. It went something like this: “Picture a long gravel driveway and you at the beginning of it. To raise support, your job is to simply (ha!) turn over every piece of gravel as you make your way to the house. There will be five rocks with a red X on the back. Find those, and you’ve found your support.”

But here’s the ironic thing. We started with that sort of “turn over every rock” strategy. What did it get us? Lots of fatigue, frustration, and frayed nerves.

What did work? Prayer and paradox.

Prayer because we’d get to the end of our support raising ropes and give up, asking God again for direction. He’d give it. We’d follow it. And often more support would come through His counterintuitive plan.

Paradox because it was NEVER how we would think it would go. We’d ask wealthy folks to join us financially, and they wouldn’t. We’d ask poor seminary students who gladly sacrificed what little they had to help us gt to France.

How does this relate to marketing?

Perhaps our strategy should be Prayer and Paradox. And in that, we’ll kill two birds (marketing our wares, advancing the kingdom of God) with one stone (trusting and obeying).

Prayer:

1. Truly commit your marketing adventures to prayer. Ask God to direct your steps. To guide your blogging. To smile upon your facebook status.

2. Pray for others in the industry you are in. It’s been a rough year for publishing (my industry).

3. Pray God would bless your competition.

4. Pray that the Lord would specifically show you which social media (if any) is right for you. Some folks shouldn’t twitter. Some shouldn’t blog. Don’t give into the temptation to do everything. Seek Him first.

5. Seek the Lord’s heart for your business in the first place. Ask about ways you can bless folks with your products.

6. Before embarking on a new initiative, ask God to check your motives, to sift your heart.

7. Seek God and His kingdom as you think about marketing. How can you combine promoting your product with highlighting the plight of the world? How can your selling somehow positively impact someone in need? (Giving away books to prisoners may help word of mouth, but also help folks who need Jesus-y words, for example.)

Paradox:

1. Understand that your great plans might come to naught–by God’s design. Not to frustrate you per se, but to redirect you. I once sent hundreds of newsletters highlighting my speaking ministry. It cost a lot of time and money. I received this many requests to speak: ZERO. What did I learn? For me (and it’s unique to each person), I was to rely on the Lord to bring the engagements. And how did He do that? Exclusively through relationship and word of mouth.

2. Perhaps the scope of your book or speaking topic is smaller but deeper than you expected. I spoke on national radio on a well-known program about Building the Christian Family You Never Had. The book has had moderate sales. But when I shared my story of abuse, I received an email from a mom who had adopted a sibling group. All the girls had been sexually abused. They listened to my story. The youngest said to her eldest sister, “Why did that lady (me) have to go through all that terrible stuff?” The eldest answered, “I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s so she could get through it and then help girls like us.” Those comments changed my life. If I wrote that book for those girls, it was worth it.

3. I remember sending my novels to celebrities. What came out of it? A big, fat nothing. Like a celebrity even has time to read my book! But the best things have happened marketing wise when I’ve sent my books to folks without a big name. I’ve met some pretty cool champions of my work who’ve sold way more copies than Angelina Jolie.

I doubt I have it all figured out. Do any of us? But I do know I am much more relaxed and peaceful when I pray and I welcome/invite paradox into my marketing efforts.

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