Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So, how's that going to Work?

Isn't every every man and his dog selling websites to churches? It does seem that way. So in order to make a go of this, I need to use a couple of old-fashioned concepts, the first being relationship and the second being niche.

You see, people do business with people they like or who are like them. This should cover the relationship side of things. I will target (almost) exclusively churches and pastors within the UPCI. I am trusting that this will give an increased comfort level to churches to do business with one of their own. Hopefully a few testimonials from happy customers in this district will help as well.

I also learned long ago to not fear the niche business. When you do business in the wide-open market, you are competing with everyone (and their dog) and it's a rough market at times. You are effectively a minnow in the ocean. When you start addressing niche markets, you obviously reduce your effective audience, but you also magnify your effect and switch from minnow to shark or even a whale.

I previously worked for a company that sold consumer product repair information. Trust me, selling repair information to people who repair TVs, VCRs and other consumer electronics is a niche market, but this company was the biggest player in the niche by at least an order of magnitude. Everyone else was selling their information on the side for pocket money, while we were 100% focused on that market. It made a huge difference and we were very profitable.

So by targeting a niche (UPCI churches) within a niche (church websites) and perhaps even concentrating on only the smaller churches (like the one I pastor), I can know what they want and will work to deliver a high quality product with good service at a fair price.

As I am my typical customer I have certain amount of market analysis fairly well covered. I know that most churches do not have a resident geek. (Some are tripping over geeks in the congregation volunteering to help, but that's pretty unusual.) Of course, I am my own church geek, but pastoring takes up most of the time that I could offer to myself. In our district, we had a ministry fair last year and I was drafted to volunteer at the "Apostolic Geek" table. I talked to quite a few pastors who were interested in getting a church website, but didn't know what to do and didn't want to buy expensive packages from companies they didn't know whether they could trust.

More than just selling a church a website, I also see a need for filling the role of church geek for these smaller churches. While it would be difficult for me to be onsite at most other churches, I could at least be a technology adviser and take some of the pressure off the pastor so that they don't feel they needed to spend more time understanding technology than the scriptures.

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