Church in a Pub

There are two things I know very little about, church and beer.

I am Jewish so my knowledge of Christianity is not that extensive. I also never acquired a taste for beer as it always reminds me of frat parties with kegs and an acrid unpleasant smell. But driving to work, I heard a report on NPR about a trend where various churches are starting to try and bring worshipers together through beer. I thought it was an interesting marketing approach as it found a powerful magnet (beer) to draw together a community of younger worshipers.

I also read about Calvary Lutheran Church, located in Fort Worth.  Recently they have begun a new tradition on Sundays where a bar (Zio Carlo) hosts reading of the gospel. The bar remains open for non-religious too who are just looking for some ale without a sermon.

Where this trend started is hard to say but there are several examples of religious institutions (of all stripes) trying to bring in younger congregants together by providing an incentive. A craft beer tasting is a great way to attract people to come together and to use the beer to become the glue that bonds a community of interest. Once in the pub, stories from the Bible are shared or used as a way to brew relationships.

The secret to this marketing idea is that the Church has been struggling to find a way to bring the younger worshipers to the Church.  However getting them to a bar is easy. So, why not leverage the strength of the bar to provide a new environment for the message to be shared?

When you look beyond the four walls of your store or business, you realize that sometimes it is easier to bring your brand, product or service where the people are. Or, you understand that you send a very different message when you meet on a common playing field.

Four Questions to Consider

1. Where can you share stories or information about your product that isn’t on your home turf or in a customer’s and offers a neutral venue? When the auto mechanic who works on imported cars shows up at wine auction, there is an obvious connection between affluent consumers who may share equal interest in wine and imported sports cars. 

2.  What happens when you appear in an unexpected venue? Preachers hold Church on Sunday morning at Nascar races because that’s where the people are in the South. If the artisan who builds custom furniture attends a seminar held by a financial institution, what is the possibility she will run into people who she wants to develop as potential clients? 

3. If you understand the passion of your target audience, you might find that associating yourself with that audience in their happy place; brings that association and connection with your product. Sponsorships are a common tactic for this marketing approach. When my brother, a financial planner brings potential clients to hockey games or to see Bruce in concert, he wants the association with that experience to be aligned with his practice. 

4. Can you list 5 places that you can meet customers that will encourage them to come visit with you but they don’t feel like you are trying to sell them that ‘old time religion’? By writing down several ideas, you will expand the possibilities of how you can introduce yourself and ultimately your business to potential clients. As you make your list, ask yourself which of these 5 places is the most likely place for you to connect with your target and what can you do to facilitate an event or activity there? I call this partnership marketing and I give a detailed example in this post. 

Snapping Up An Opportunity: 
I have a friend who is a professional photographer. He is trying to grow his family portrait work and looking for ways to reach and engage more clients. A typical pitch feels a bit too commercial when he first meets people so he is looking for a common location to connect.

I suggested to him that he start holding weekend clinics in a community park to teach Dads how to take better family portraits. The hook is that he is giving away something of benefit for free. He is also getting to meet families in neutral settings where they don’t feel he is selling to them. Instead he is building connections, giving value and getting to know them. The Dads still aren’t going to take the family portrait themselves but my friend has snapped up a great chance to connect.

Do you have examples you can share of how you have found unique venues to engage with potential clients so that you have some business opportunities on tap? Please comment and share some ideas from your experiences. 

Notes: If you enjoy my posts, would you share it with your marketing friends? And check out my new book on Amazon. At $2.99 it is a great value. 21 useful lessons based on my marketing experiences. A paperback version will be published in a few weeks for those who like to hold a book in their hands.

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