Can Marketers Learn Something from The Pope?

The Pope

Yes. I actually asked that question with sincerity. This might be my most bizarre blog article yet. I am not a Catholic or Christian. Heck, I am not even religious. I am a non-practicing Jew that is more spiritual than religious. And with that preamble, I have to tell you that I found some statements from The Pope this week, truly amazing.

In his weekly gathering in Rome, The Pope said that The Church need to embrace people who are divorced as well as their children. “No closed doors!” This is truly remarkable given that The Church has shunned people of divorce for centuries.

And there is a big takeaway for marketers here. Let me ask you … are there any corporate doctrines in place that make your offering closed to a segment of your potential audience. I certainly hope not. But let me take it a step further. Is there anything you are doing in your persona, messaging, or engagement that is potentially repelling people? Here I think the answer could be yes. I am not suggesting you do so on purpose, but there is likely some facet of your marketing that is turning off some.

We need to look deep and hard at the way our brand messages affect our audience. The scrutiny is well worth it as there should be “no closed doors” for our audience.

It is no secret that The Church has been losing followers in part due to their strict, nonflexible doctrine. The Pope’s message this past week says he is willing to ease The Church’s persona, messaging, and engagement with the people a bit to increase his audience. But in doing so, he did not water down his message for the core of his target audience.

This is key. When you develop your brand’s position, you need to appeal to that small group of ideal customers, but at the same time you want to attract a large enough audience to meet the required scale for business profitability. Look at the bull’s eye diagram below. The challenge is determining how far off the center circle you need to go to win the right number of customers while not watering down your position such that it is not compelling to the ideal customer.

Target Market Audience

Consider listening to the entire target audience mass. Understand what they are saying and based upon their behavior, think about tweaking your position. (This is exactly what The Pope did.) Then make sure your brand messaging resonates with the outer most segment of customers and certainly with the ideal customer as well.

I think this is what the modern day Pope accomplished with one of the most historical and oldest market segments. If he was able to stretch the doctrine of an old inflexible institution, you certainly can with your brand.

Make it Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under brand marketing, community, leadership, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

4 responses to “Can Marketers Learn Something from The Pope?

  1. Jim Matorin

    Interesting analogy, but I am not sure one can compare religion with a brand. People are not always rational when it comes to religion, but they can be with a brand and then there are always promotions.

  2. Mike Poynton

    Nice post, Steve. There’s new blood at the Vatican and it’s from South America. Yay! Pope Francis is one of my contemporary heroes right now. His recent encyclical calling for action on climate change was a masterpiece (What can I say, I was raised Catholic, went to Notre Dame, and am a tree-hugger/marketing geek living in Costa Rica – it kinda resonated). Pope Francis is a champion for the world’s poor and believes most of the world’s problems would go away if young people had a decent education, the rich and powerful would share more of their wealth and politicians would legislate responsibly in stead of in their own self interest. He’s also embraced the gay community. It’s heavy stuff. And he’s not appealing to a “small group of ideal customers.” He’s appealing to the vast majority of humanity. One thing Catholics and Jews share in common is guilt. And Francis is great at dishing it out. Will it be “profitable” for the Church? We’ll have to wait and see. But one thing’s for sure: people are taking notice like never before. And marketers should take notice. This guy’s a genius! Go Pope!

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