Meeting Spiritual Needs
By Irene Cherkassky
You may be very active in your church. You may receive comfort and support from your local pastor. However, as a direct marketer, you may be missing the opportunity to meet the B-to-B needs of those very same religious professionals.
The Needs of the Many
There are an estimated 250,000 to 350,000 churches in the United States. The spending power of this market, however, depends largely on the size of the specific house of worship. According to Barbara Spaulding, president of Bush Company Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based list management and brokerage firm specializing in the religious market, a very large "mega" church with a membership of 30,000 members or more may have a budget in the millions, while a smaller church with just a few thousand members may have a budget in the range of $50,000 to $100,000.
"Denomination has an impact, too," says Mary English, director of sales for Sweet Springs, Mo.-based religious list compiler, MCH. "You may have a Protestant church that traditionally has been more able or willing to spend money on commercial offers, and then there are denominations that concentrate on the very loyal, small, select vendors and suppliers to whom they give their business."
Nonetheless, just like any other business or organization, the religious community requires everything from roofing tiles to desks to computers, not to mention more specialized products such as bibles, choir robes and hymn books. Spaulding says users of her company's files and brokerage services include providers of office equipment, office furniture, paper, stationery, computer equipment, commercial roofing, painting, siding, fundraising products and materials. "I think what mailers are missing is that this is like any other group of businesses," she says. Group offers for amusement parks, religious-themed vacations, and insurance services are some secondary offers likely to be of interest to this market base. Spaulding cites office supply companies and an increasing number of fundraisers as being in the forefront of marketing to religious professionals.