Over on Conglomerate, Elizabeth Brown links to an article about the “Scum of the Earth Church” as an example of niche marketing. The name is integral to the church’s mission of “reach[ing] out to our otherwise unreached friends…. Whether outcast by society (e.g., punks, skaters, ravers, homeless people…) or by the church itself, many who come can identify with the name ‘Scum of the Earth’ since they have been previously treated as such.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invests heavily in marketing. In the U.S., that marketing consists of media advertising (including internet sites and television commercials), promotional literature (including, most importantly, free copies of the Book of Mormon or the Holy Bible), and direct sales (52,060 full-time missionaries). The media marketing emphasizes middle-class individuals and families, but my sense is that direct sales are pretty effective at reaching the constituencies targeted by the “Scum of the Earth Church,” even if the poor and downtrodden are not always a point of emphasis in the missionary work.
Niche marketing does not become a church that views itself as the “One True Church.” We must be a Church that transcends social and economic classes, racial lines, and cultural barriers. Though our efforts are not equally credible in all communities, I do perceive the effort to appeal broadly, and I appreciate it.