Connecting With Church Customers is an Investment in Your Future
In this guest post, Tom Lacey discusses why it is important for Christian stores to build relationships with their church customers and offers tips for reaching out to area ministry leaders. Lacey is the Church Resource Director at Cedar Springs Christian Store in Knoxville, Tenn.
We all find marketing to our customers changing and becoming more challenging to get people into our stores. We can reminisce about the “old days” when foot traffic to a store was the prominent way to do business or we can adapt our strategy to meet these new challenges. We all know the convenience of the internet pulls many of our potential customers toward them for quick orders and fast fulfillment. But what can we offer that’s better?
We processed that question at our store and came up with the following conclusion—build stronger relationships with our church customer. The longer you have served your community, the more ministry leaders you know. They know your heart, your motivation and your common partnership to serve the Lord in your community. Your area ministers don’t have that “ministry connection” with the Internet companies they could order from and are often just a sale to those sources. You know your community and what resources will connect best in your area. This specialized knowledge can be invaluable with serving your local church. How then do we remind our local church of this partnership and stay “top-of-mind” when they have product needs?
We are continuing to develop this thought but see hosting ministry events as a vehicle to accomplish this goal. Look for opportunities to serve different ministry areas within the church. Seek out ways to connect with local ministry fellowships and focus on their specific needs at that moment. Host a breakfast or luncheon using that time to build relationships. Help them see your heart and desire to serve them. Remind them of the value to shop with a local ministry resource supplier. Stress the value of local convenience, helping the local economy, partnership of ministry and input availability for working with your store. Work with publishers and vendors for time-appropriate items to offer with special savings and quantity discounts. Have a guest speaker or set up a SkypeTM call to have a time of encouragement and information for their ministry. Pray for them and let them know your care for their specific needs. It is a good opportunity to meet with 20, 30, 50 or more churches with a one-hour meeting and a little preparation time. This is a good time investment for your future.
Last week we connected with and ministered to 20 churches and their Children’s Ministry Leaders. We included a SkypeTM call with a missionary for encouragement, offered prayer and fellowship to show our care. We handed out a gift bag with sample product and special offers that have already brought about additional sales. But more than that the next time these Ministry Leaders need to order a resource, hopefully they will see our face and not a keyboard as a caring, personal supplier for that product. How will you make that happen with your best customers? – Tom Lacey, Church Resource Director, Cedar Springs Christian Store, Knoxville, TN