The product being sold through the advertising message is the change in attitude towards priesthood. The objective of marketing message is different from the objective of a typical marketing message pertaining to the sales of a product or service. The objective in a typical marketing communication message is to persuade consumers to allocate a proportion of their spending towards a particular brand of either a product or a service. On the other hand, marketing communication of thirteen-week advertising campaign of Archdiocese of New York was multifold. The objectives of this marketing communication were:
- Increase the number of applicants to theology degree
- Change in perception of general public about priesthood as a career choice
- Induce young college graduates to enroll in professional school of theology for a 4-year degree
- Create a positive change in the perspective of parents about their children choosing priesthood
- Enhance awareness about the role of catholic priests in influencing a positive change in the society
The selling of a change in attitude adopted by this marketing campaign is much more difficult than a typical marketing communication for the sale of a product or service. This is because the level of commitment required from the prospective ‘customer’ is significantly high. The target market for this message (college graduates and their parents) is to be influenced to commit the entire career to a discipline; rather than merely expected to spend their money on buying a product or service. The level of commitment in making a career choice is incredibly higher in comparison to simply spending a few dollars on a brand. For this reason, the challenge for the Archdiocesan Advocation Committee is quite daunting for executing an effective marketing campaign through allocation of their funding.
2. What is the “buying” process for the “customer?” You may want to include a figure with your model of buyer behavior for this “product” (e.g., like the McKinsey model shown earlier in the course).
The ‘buying’ process for the target audience of this marketing communication comprises of various discrete stages. These stages relate to the change in attitudes and perceptions, followed by a change in behavior of the target market. This buying process is depicted in the figure below:
During the earliest stages of this buying process (referred to as pre-contemplation in the diagram), the person does not think of making changes. The target market (comprising of college graduates) is not yet aware of the consequences of this behavior change and does not understand why it should change its behavior. For a college graduate, a conventional career would seem much less risky and to influence him to adopt an unconventional path requires highly convincing message. At this stage, the information helps to raise awareness and get them to imagine what a career as a priest would be. It is during the second stage of contemplation that the target audience will think about making the change to a more distant future. However, they will tend to see the disadvantages and difficulties in terms of tradeoffs – such as, foregoing potential earnings of a highly paid career. To move to the next step, the marketing communication must effectively communicate the intangible and tangible benefits associated with adoption of priesthood as a career.
In the decision stage the target market (both the college graduates and their parents) are convinced of the merits of making the change. They believe it is time to act. They start to take action and make plans. At the stage of the action the person adopts the behavior and desired attitudes and organizes his life and environment to facilitate its changes. This step requires time and energy.
However, the person does not necessarily happen to maintain adoption of the changed behavior. The person is still vulnerable and the risk of relapse is quite high. Marketing efforts must be aimed at helping the individual to adjust to the behavior change and persevere in the adopted changes. They still need to develop strategies to successfully maintain their behavior change. If the person makes it through the maintenance stage, then the relapse to an earlier stage becomes much less likely and these changes are not durable if they happen. The person, thus, becomes accustomed to and comfortable with priesthood as a career.
3. Evaluate the marketing materials that have been used in the past and that are currently being utilized.
The marketing materials which have been used in the past and which are currently being used have focused on the lives of the priests and the contributions they make to their society. They do not seem to be particularly focused on the most important apprehensions and concerns of its target market i.e. comparison of a career as a priest in comparison to a conventional career. Print advertisements (both of past and present) only focus on the fulfilling lives of priests and their contributions to the society. There is a disconnection between the information need of the target audience and the content of the marketing messages. Even though, the marketing communication does succeed in carrying out its secondary objective of dispelling myths about priesthood – namely, extravagant lifestyles and vanity of priests. They tend to focus on the invaluable contributions made by this profession on the lives of masses in the society; yet, it fails to serve its primary purpose of addressing the most important factors which inhibit a person from adopting priesthood as a career.
4. What would you suggest for a campaign for 2015 using the media available today?
Given the availability of media today, I would suggest this campaign to adopt social media as a primary media avenue while mass media (such as, print and television) should be utilized only as secondary media avenues. The rationale for this suggestion is that behavior change requires engagement of the target audience which is not possible without two-way communication provided by social media. Allocation of marketing budget to social media will ensure that the campaign will engage those individuals during the first stage of buying behavior (pre-contemplation) as discussed above. These individuals will then be involved into the marketing communication to move them to subsequent stages of buying behavior.