From his first “Buona sera,” Pope Francis has captured the imaginations of Catholics, former Catholics and non-Catholics alike. With so many eyes taking a fresh look at the Church, how can we make the most of the opportunity to use our media platforms and mission to draw souls deeper into the Church and to Christ? There may be a number of ways, but at the core of every effort are these basic principles:
- Understand your audience. There are many types of organizations in the Catholic space and as many different missions. One of the most basic and important marketing steps every organization can take is to define your audience. Who are you reaching with your message? Who do you want to reach? Study your audience, listen to them and tailor the way you communicate your message to best reach them. This one simple step lays the ground work for all of your marketing.
- Step up your game. Many new people will be sampling your media or hearing of your mission for the very first time. Perfection isn’t essential, but consumers today are used to a high standard of quality, so compelling content, a commitment to excellence, and the rejection of the mindset that “it doesn’t have to be good because it’s Catholic” are vital.
- Love your audience. No-brainer, you’re thinking. Maybe, but it’s important for all of us who are employed at the service of the Church to go a little deeper here. We may “feel” love for portions of our audience because they donate to our apostolate or organization, or they affirm us in some way. But the kind of love we are called to goes beyond feeling into an agape, or unconditional, love that desires the best for each person even if they never join our ranks. It’s this agape love that is drawing people to Pope Francis, and coming from us as well, it will draw them ever deeper.
- Don’t be afraid to be truly Catholic. The biggest gift we can give to those sampling us is the truth of the Catholic faith. This doesn’t mean that we can’t use the language or style that will best reach our audience – that’s inherent and necessary. However, burying the teachings of our faith will never be as attractive as the truth, and we risk being just another vaguely spiritual message lost in a multitude of messages that lack the power to transform lives.