The use of marketing tactics by the church in fulfilling its social mandate in KwaZulu-Natal
Adebayo, Rufus Olufemi
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Marketing and communications have become part of church activities in order to get the attention of congregations. It has become clear that church activities and marketing activities are interrelated. People become attached to a religion in the same way they become attached to a brand. This study examined whether the principles of marketing in traditional product areas are transferable to the marketing of the church and church services, persons and ideas in South Africa. It examined the ways in which core values of marketing and church are interrelated and interconnected to offer social values. The study also explored the way social marketers make use of the marketing mix in their routine activities. Religious organisations can also apply the marketing mix in order to communicate religious values in their social roles. It emerged that the church can also apply the service marketing mix through the “7P’s” with a view to achieving its social mandate. Specifically, spirituality (product), communication (promotion), delivery (place), exchange (price), employee involvement in service delivery (people), the mechanisms, via which the service is delivered (process), and the environment in which the services are delivered (physical environment). In addition, the church marketing theoretical frame work is derived from social marketing which is designed to influence individuals’ behaviour, improve their well-being and that of society. This study was conducted in Wentworth, Umlazi, Phoenix and Glenwood communities located in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The sample size of this survey and the number of units that were required in the process of gathering data was based on interviews with professionals in the church business. Eight interviews were conducted with the officials in the four communities (two officials in each of the communities) while four focus group discussions consisting of 10-12 participants each were conducted among the selected church members of these four communities. The study used exploratory research design and the qualitative approach as data collection methods. The findings reveal that the church efforts aimed at fulfilling its vi social mandate are clouded by a number of marketing tactics. The use of marketing tactics appears to be more important in achieving church social mandates than the use of specific word-of-mouth (preaching) methods. Furthermore, there is an indication that in developing and running programmes for the church, there is an inclusion of marketing components in the planning, such as programmes that will have effect in transforming the surrounding, community, awareness, and evangelical missions. It was established that although the Holy Spirit is supreme to the church in transforming life, marketing tactics also can be employed to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to the Spirit’s work of restoration, rebirth, and awakening. Overall, the findings suggest that a church’s marketing tactics should be determined by marketing goals that relate to the vision and mission of the church. Hence, the study proposes an additional 8th “P” which is philosophy and underpinned by the vision, mission, passion, planning and ethics which could enhance the church’s ability in presenting a value proposition to its congregation in a similar manner that other marketers do.