Last week was a busy one on the road. I visited the School of Theology at the University of the South where I co-presented with Mary Ann Patterson on how to market your church.
The point I tried to get across is that church leaders (rectors in particular) are marketers and that they have something to advertise. The audience was eager and participated vigorously. It was interesting to listen to them debate and define their "product." Consensus seemed to form around the "parish experience."
I quipped, "If you as rectors and church leaders are marketers, then does that make the members of your congregation 'customer service reps'?"
"It makes them sales reps," someone called out.
As an exercise, after I explained the basics of blocking and tackling, the class helped a seminarian brainstorm a marketing plan for a Latino ministry he hopes to launch in his home diocese outside of Miami.
Here's a picture of beautiful Sewanee, Tennessee:
Next I visited some of the Episcopal Digital Network's clients in Nashville at Abingdon Press and the United Methodist Publishing House. Church Publishing Incorporated has recently started using Cokesbury to handle distribution. It was great to put names to faces!
Thursday afternoon I flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan. United Airlines was very accommodating and not only put me on an earlier flight but also gave me a complimentary pass to their red carpet lounge in Chicago! Planes continue to fascinate me and it's hard to beat these views of a 747 from your perch at the bar:
Friday morning I met with the marketing team at Baker Books. In addition to a fine line-up of titles, Baker imports the Cambridge editions of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. I own one of these Bibles. You won't find a better made book.
Finally, I paid a visit to Zondervan. Zondervan is owned by Harper Collins which I learned on this trip is owned by News Corporation. Until a few weeks ago, a great many of the bibles sold domestically were shipped from Zondervan's distribution center in Grand Rapids, but that's now been outsourced to print giant R.R. Donnelly. The new distribution center is in Indianapolis. I got a last look at the the silent conveyors inside the empty warehouse:
And this last bit of inventory sitting on pallets waiting to be shipped:
The distribution system we've set up in this country is amazing and yet we take it for granted or seldom think about it.