Strategy & Marketing

The Niche is the New Big – Don’t Be So Afraid to Make Changes to Reach a Younger Audience

So many producers of traditional television and radio programs come to me terrified. They’ve had success over the years, but their audience is getting older. They want to overhaul the program and make it hipper, more contemporary, and hopefully reach a younger audience, but they’re fearful that any changes will upset or alienate the older demographic. (And hence stop their financial support).

I’ve fought against that thinking for years. We’ve had success making that transition happen at numerous churches and media  ministries, and with that particular issue, I would imagine Joyce Meyer Ministries is probably our greatest success. The key in Joyce’s case was selling the changes to the older audience. Joyce knew the critical importance of keeping the program updated and contemporary, but was initially worried about how the older partners would react to the new changes.

So she went right to the older crowd and made her case. After all, there’s nothing older folks want better than to reach the next generation. Once she showed them what she wanted to do, and the changes that were coming, they jumped on board in a big way, and the rest is history.

But other churches and ministries just don’t get it. Even some second generation leaders are so afraid, they preach their dad’s sermons, wear their dad’s suits, use the same fundraising strategy, and in some cases, wear the same haircut. They want so desperately to make sure the older (giving) audience stays on board, that they sacrifice their own unique personality, calling, and vision to do it.

It’s a tragic waste. You can reach a younger audience, and make the older crowd get behind the effort.  Another point that backs up my contention is from Timothy Ferris’ “Margin Manifesto: How to Reach Profitability (or Double It!) in 3 Months” he says:

“Niche is the new big. But here’s the secret: It’s possible to niche market and mass sell. iPod commercials don’t feature dancing 50 year olds, they feature hip and fit 20-30 somethings, but everyone and his grandmother wants to feel youthful and hip, so they strap on Nanos and call themselves Apple converts. Who you portray in your marketing isn’t necessarily the only demographic who buys your product – it’s often the demographic that most people want to identify with or belong to. The target isn’t the market.”

It’s time to pull the trigger on some significant changes that reflect a new generation. Stop operating in fear. Be yourself, not a poor reflection of what worked in the past.

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  1. I think your most important point here is "communication".  Joyce Meyer thoughtfully considered and spoke to her supporters that she cherishes the direction and vision she was pursuing.  People who support ministries feel lost when you spring change on them without explanation but love (as this demonstrates) to be apart of a new revolution.

  2. The Joyce story is a perfect example…and I was there on the team as well.

    And what is important to note is there are some media that you have to deliver to one audience–like TV.  The net is wide, everyone is watching.  You have to set your priorities of who you want to attract and what you want them to do and give it your best shot.

    But with the right database, with direct mail and eblasts, you can give people more of what THEY want.  Send the younger crowd the cooler, hipper stuff.  Let the old folks have the LARGE TYPE and the old time offers.

    If you start with a communication strategy to the core donors as Joyce did, and then create TV that appeals to a younger crowd, the results will be more of this generation reached for the Gospel.

    Take the time to do a two (or four or six) tiered direct mail approach to the key audiences within the file, and your fundraising will be more succeessful than its ever been.

  3. Wow, that's cool to hear how Joyce Meyer's success lately has come about. There are certainly many, many Christian ministries that need to take exactly these steps–and stop sliding into irrelevance. 

  4. Great word Mary,

    I was part of the team that re-branded Joyce as well. Joyce informed her audience well and she had an outstanding team in place who knew what to do through research, asking the right qestions and plain old experience.

    Danny, Joyce's youngest son, had taken over the reigns to the creative division at this time and knew enough to let the experts run. Joyce not only empowered her audience with knowledge but empowered her team to do what they knew to do. It was the proper balance between bringing in people like Phil and Mary as consultants and letting her in-house experts FREE.

    This was a major factor in the re-branding of Joyce.

    The real trick to re-branding/reaching a new audience is to be fresh but retain the heritage and identity that makes you who you are. Joyce Meyer had a troubled past, God worked in her life and now she is "Enjoying Everyday Life".


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