As Christian entrepreneurs it is essential for us to have success in our endeavors as they are inspired, driven, and provisioned by God. No matter what you do, whether it’s selling real estate or coding complex fintech software, you should be doing it in excellence and “with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
If you own and operate your own business chances are you have encountered the need to grow that business, which is where marketing comes into play. Marketing is almost exclusively associated with (for profit) businesses, what the King James Bible refers to as “filthy lucre” (1 Timothy 3:3).
In the Digital Age, we often witness marketing firsthand via interruption models in the form of interstitials (aka pop ups), spam, junk mail, display banners, or commercials…..and we hate them all. Marketing is defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (American Marketing Association 2013) So how is the Christian entrepreneur supposed to use marketing to grow the bottom line and advance the Kingdom of God at the same time?
The Great Commission as Marketing Strategy
First, as Christians we need to learn to stop demonizing the word “marketing” and what it’s meant to achieve. When you think about it, the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20 is really just a masterful marketing plan for advancing the Kingdom of God and spreading salvation to the lost souls of a fallen world. It reads:
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
Essentially, all marketing efforts consist of four stages, which are found in the Great Commission:
- Awareness or Attention
- Desire or Decision Making
Let’s look at how those four stages are present in these verses:
This statement demonstrates God’s strategy to create awareness of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How? In the ancient world, almost no one would travel beyond the borders of their town because it was expensive and dangerous. Even today, approximately 40% of Americans never move out of their hometown. The only way to create awareness of who Jesus was and what he did was for His followers to go forth and spread the Good News.
Comparatively, as Christian entrepreneurs we have to market our enterprises in the right way to achieve the results we’re looking for. How else are people supposed to buy our products or hire us for our services if they don’t even know we exist? The Internet is the most cost effective way to display your business to the world today and market its products and/or services to potential customers 24/7. It is the modern version of how people go places and research things, so every Christian entrepreneur should be finding ways to use it to their advantage.
“…make disciples of all nations…” (Interest/Inform)
The mandate about making disciples was given as a means of convincing people of the value of the life of Jesus and asking people to follow Him as their Lord and Savior. In marketing, this is called Cultivation of Interest. God knew there was no way a person would give their life to Christ unless they were interested in doing so of their own volition. That interest can fall within a vast spectrum of personal motivations, from not wanting to go to Hell to wanting all of the benefits the Bible speaks about. Likewise, there is no way that you would give your money to a company that wasn’t selling something you were interested in. If a person’s interest isn’t piqued, then you will never get them to convert into a follower of Christ or a customer of your business.
“…baptizing them…” (Desire/Decision Making)
After accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we are commanded to explicitly reflect that action publicly to clarify objectively that we have indeed become His disciple. In marketing, this is called a conversion. Think about it for a second. Why aren’t people baptized before they accept Christ? That’s because baptizing people in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit can only be done after a person decides to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior and have prayed what we would call “the Sinner’s Prayer” asking God for forgiveness of sins and stating belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The key prerequisite to baptism is the decision to follow Christ. Once that decision has been made the next step is to show that conversion publicly through baptism.
In marketing the decision making process is affected through various means, like influencer messaging or content dissemination. Once a person’s interest is piqued by something, they will often research the matter further to make sure all of their objections are met. If there are no objections or once they are sufficiently assuaged, then the person decides to proceed and a sale subsequently takes place. Conversions follow a similar path whether you’re winning souls for the Kingdom or selling products in the marketplace.
“…teaching them…” (Action)
We tend to think of the word “teaching” in this verse as verbally explaining concepts or ideas, but Jesus tended to teach by example. His disciples lived with him and learned not just his ideas but his behaviors as well. For them it was just as important to see the words Jesus spoke put into action and replicate those steps in order to achieve similar results.
In marketing, the concept of action is multifaceted. Of course the initial goal of marketing efforts is to get a person to convert (usually into a sale or lead of some kind). The secondary goal of marketing is to create continued revenue streams from previous customers through repeat business. Lastly, good marketing creates referrals from past customers, thus turning one customer into many.
As Christian entrepreneurs our work should speak for itself and motivate people to want to take action and do business with us repeatedly. If your customers are having a good experience with your brand, then they will take action by continually using your products or services as well as by telling people about them. Think about how much you rave about a great new restaurant you ate at to your family and friends. Ultimately, you having one good dining experience not only created a conversion for that restaurant, but it turned you into a brand ambassador singing their praises and creating new customers through your amplification.
The Bible speaks of “nations”, but we have to remember that nations are just people groups distinguished by traits. What do you call the practices of distinguishing the traits of various groups in order to communicate something of value to them? Marketing. In fact, “persona” is a marketing term for a summary of traits that describe a people group called the target audience. All audiences don’t receive the same marketing messages, which is why they change depending on the target audience.
Marketing may take numerous forms, but for those of us who are trying to advance God’s Kingdom, they all come down to one thing: giving people a chance to see the light of God shining through us leading them to want to know and follow Jesus. As Christian entrepreneurs the success we experience in the marketplace is integral to that end.