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McPherson College Harter Lecture Features Expert in Diversity Marketing

posted Apr 03, 2014 in CAMPUS EVENTS

A Florida pastor was a perfect example of great business marketing, according to the Harter Lecturer at McPherson College, Kelly McDonald, who spoke Wednesday, April 2, in Mingenback Theatre.

McDonald, who is an author and the CEO or McDonald Marketing, said the pastor just started casually asking people he encountered whether they went to church and if they didn’t, “Why not?”

“They often said they didn’t have anything nice enough to wear,” McDonald said. “He thought that was a stupid reason to keep people from going to church. God doesn’t care what you wear.”

As a result of what was, essentially, a highly affordable focus group study, the pastor founded a church in a gym to offer the sort of relaxed church environment where people with a closet full of flip-flops and Bermuda shorts could attend and feel comfortable.

“The most expensive research still just comes down to listening to what people say - and why - and trying to give it to them,” McDonald said. “It doesn’t take a lot of money and budget. It takes listening and responding.”

McDonald’s lecture covered “How to Market to People Who Are Not Like You: The New Market Segmentation.” The lecture focused on McDonald’s area of expertise of marketing diversity, which goes far beyond concepts of race or gender and includes such considerations as family life, career choice, home location and lifestyle.

“We tend as businesspeople to market to people who are just like ourselves. We market as if people all want the same thing and think the way we do,” McDonald said. “That’s just not true.”

McDonald is recognized nationally as a marketing expert, especially in diversity marketing, and has clients including Toyota, Harley-Davidson, Sherwin-Williams, State Farm and Miller/Coors. She’s appeared as an expert on CNBC, in “BusinessWeek,” on and on Sirius/XM Radio.

She wrote “How to Market to People Not Like You: ‘Know It or Blow It’ Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers,” which “Inc.” magazine’s “800-CEO-READ” and “Forbes” magazine named a top business book of 2011. In the book, McDonald says that diversity awareness is - and will remain - essential to successful marketing. Her second book “Crafting the Customer Service Experience for People Not Like You” focuses on diversity in the realm of customer service.

McDonald focuses on expanding from the old methods of marketing research, which lumped people together into groups by demographics. Those studies have their place, she said, but using quality focus groups helps businesspeople and marketing professionals to understand not only what people buy, but why they buy it. That means giving up on preconceptions and engaging in active listening.

The key to quality marketing, she said, is not learning what people spend money on, but the motivations that underlie what they purchase.

“People spend money on what they value,” she said. “If I can figure out what you value, I promise I can get into your wallet.”

And those methods are just as valid, she said, whether you happen to be selling a new product, an innovative service or - as the Florida pastor demonstrated - want to share your faith with as many people as possible.

The Harter Lecture in Business is named for McPherson College Alumni Jack and Eleanor Harter. The Harter’s met during their student days at McPherson, Jack served for many years as a member of the trustee board, and both have given generously of their time, leadership skills, and resources.

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