“It is like riding on a wave that is breathed on by God”
While established business marketing practices focus on commercial principles like packaging the product, knowing the competition and developing product awareness, the Karoo Mighty Men Conference’s (KMMC) marketing strategy turns conventional business wisdom on its head by focussing on prayer and building relationships as the key instruments for achieving objectives.
Ponnie and Ruthi Van der Merwe, who co-ordinate KMMC’s marketing function, say that like all aspects of the event the marketing is based on prayer, our relationship with the Lord and our relationship with our neighbours as explained by Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40 when asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
“We find that conventional marketing is like sowing into the air if it is not based in faith, because you are merely taking an educated guess that costs lots of money,” says Ponnie.
“However, KMMC’s marketing programme is both founded and led by prayer and intercession, which makes for doors opening supernaturally. It is like riding a wave that is breathed on by God, which makes everything smoother, because we are being led in God’s path, doing His will not our own.
“For example, last week representatives from a radio station, which broadcasts out of Pretoria; let us know out of the blue that they would transmit advertising for KMMC three times a day.
“Similarly, there are businesses that volunteer to make signage and do printing for us without any prompting or requests from KMMC.” he adds.
Ponnie says likewise, the relationships established with brothers and sisters in Christ who stand by the marketing co-ordination team are critical to KMMC’s successful marketing.
“We serve them, build relationships with them, walk together with them, and they actually carry out most of the marketing. They are the workforce that promotes the event in hundreds of cities, towns and communities throughout the country.
“It is these KMMC co-ordinators that we honour for the works they do and time sacrificed in encouraging people to attend the event.”
Ruthi says that relationship marketing goes beyond conventional business marketing that is based on promoting a product or service.
“We never place the KMMC, which in this case is the product that is being marketed, above the relationships we develop as the event is largely the fruit of those relationships.
“The fruit of the relationships is also manifested in the growth in numbers from around three thousand in 2011 to about 20 000 at KMMC 2014.
“Where marketing stops once it has achieved its objectives, relationships continue and require nurturing.
“Marketing based on building relationships also grows the sustainability of the event,” says Ruthi.
However, she points out that as important as relationships are to the marketing of KMMC so is prayer.
“Our marketing begins and ends with prayer. We prayed for a marketing plan and began the marketing programme with intercession. Likewise, the marketing process for the event is closed with intercession,” says Ruthi.
“A few years ago, we changed our marketing methodology and had a marketing meeting; after the meeting we realised that the key people who were leading the marketing initiative were all intercessors.
“We had not realised that KMMC’s marketing and intercession initiatives ware largely integrated already.
“The Lord showed us clearly that without intercession we cannot even make a start at marketing the event.”
Ruthi informs that prayer is so crucial to the marketing of KMMC that they have held weekend meetings, which have been dedicated to prayer with little or no marketing input.
“We also spend much of our time praying with marketing co-ordinators from the different towns, which deepens or relationship with them and also helps determine the marketing strategy for a particular town,” adds Ponnie.
“At the end of the day we rely on the Lord for our marketing strategy and programme. We are merely tools for His will to be done, in this case regarding the marketing of KMMC.
“Jesus is our focus whether it is the KMMC or building relationships. It is all through Lord Jesus Christ’s Spirit who works through us that we achieve anything of Kingdom worth,” says Ponnie.