Stanford in the Alley: Using Common Marketing Approaches In Uncommon Places


There’s a lot of talk about Silicon Valley vs Silicon Alley. Let’s be honest: New York startups head west for the Silicon Valley investors. Silicon Valley companies open offices here for the access to the wealth of established industries that only New York offers. As for the rivalry: enough already, although one thing that the Valley does have that the Alley doesn’t is Stanford University. In a new spirit of collaboration, AlleyWatch is bringing Stanford East, with a series of videos from classes taught at the esteemed university.

If your company is stuck in a rut or simply not functioning at the level it should be, it may be time to apply some common approaches in uncommon places.  Management Consultant Sarah Joyce (Stanford ’14) illustrates this point in an interesting way, using the Catholic Church as her model. The Church has $170 billion in revenue, serves 1.2 billion customers and employees nearly a million people. In the past few years, the church has lost both revenue and market share at alarming rates, with home markets in the U.S. and Europe being hit the hardest. If we think of the Catholic Church as a business, Joyce says, then we can use four simple steps to come up with a solution to its declining revenue and market shares.

The first step is to define the problem. In this case, it would be greater net losses of existing customers in traditional markets. Next, scan the industry, see who is doing well in this market and why.  In the case of religion, people unaffiliated with religion are the largest-growing group in the U.S. and Europe. The majority of people unaffiliated with religion are the millennials (ages 18-29). This leads us to step 3: defining the target customer. As for the Catholic Church, they should target millennials who were raised Catholic but currently are not affiliated with any church.

Now that we know whom the target customer is, we need to advance to step 4: optimize the experience. The company needs to first get them in the door. For the millennial generation, using social media is a great approach. Another approach is direct outreach, using data we have to find out about them when they are going through major life events, and reaching out to them during those times. Once you have them in the door, keep them engaged. Make it a special and unique experience for them.

Finally, keep them coming back. An approach to keep the customer coming back is to get a mobile app to share content with them throughout the week and for them to share content with the company or their peers.

These common approaches can work in uncommon places and they can work for you. If your business is faltering, then define the problem, scan the industry, find your target customer and optimize the experience for them to keep them coming back.

About the author: Lauren Harrity

Lauren is a recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Writing is her passion and she is currently looking to build a career as a writer or editor.

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