|CATEGORY KEY: Reaching African-American consumers|
|Written by Rebecca Irwin-Diehl|
|Monday, 05 April 2010 10:14 AM America/New_York|
Did you know:
• Black Americans are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group in the nation to report a formal religious affiliation?
• African-Americans comprise the largest racial minority market in the U.S.?
• By 2013, African-American buying power is projected to reach $1.24 trillion—a 35.7% increase from 2008?
The question then becomes how to develop the relationships that are key in this new market. Two rules are golden in the African-American Christian community: Keep it real and keep it gospel. If you are authentic about wanting to learn more about your African-American sisters and brothers and if gospel ministry is your priority, then you should find your local black clergy and congregations willing partners.
Consider these strategies for connecting with African-American Christians in your area:
Do your homework. Find out who the African-Americans in your region are. The U.S. Census Bureau and Web sites such as ZipWho.com offer quick demographic information by ZIP code, and you can get a fairly good idea of denominational affiliation by checking your local phone book for churches in your area.
Make the first move. Contact the African-American churches in your area. Invite pastors and ministry staff to develop proposals for workshops or events to be held at your store. Ask about authors or musical artists in their congregation who may have books or CDs that you could accept on consignment, and suggest related events that include a signing.
Get to know the pastor. The black church pastor remains one of the most influential people in the African-American community. Reach out to local African-American clergy, and ask ministry-centered questions:
• What spiritual or practical issues interest or affect your church members?
• What topics are you exploring in Bible study, sermon series or new ministries?
• What Bible version do you—and most church members—use?
• Which authors do you frequently quote or recommend?
• Which Christian music artists are popular with the youth or the choir?
Pay attention to faces. Not just the faces of customers or community residents, but what faces appear on your shelves on book and CD covers and on the figurines, artwork and other merchandise in your gift section? Consider adding multicultural and African-American products in a special section or intermingled with your other resources. At least offer a catalog with special-order options and incentives.
Invite new customer loyalty. When you talk with local pastors, ask what kind of loyal customer program is most appealing. Perhaps a coupon made available in the church bulletin that says, “Pastor Jones sent me,” or a church member discount card in exchange for a certain number of congregational e-mail addresses? Even better, offer to donate a percentage of sales on purchases made by congregation members to a specific ministry of the church.
Rev. Rebecca Irwin-Diehl is editor of Judson Press. Call 800-458-3766 for a catalog or visit www.judsonpress.com.