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Monday, 27 May 2019
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The Biggest Obstacle to Reaching Pregnant Clients (and What We Can Do About It)

What do the following companies/organizations have in common? Nike, Geico, Chick-fil-A, Budweiser (Bud Lite, to be specific) . . . and Planned Parenthood?

Why is Planned Parenthood on this list? Once we answer the original question of commonality, we’ll figure it out.

Answer: Each of these created a marketing campaign which captures their target audiences.

Nike encouraged us to “Just do it.” The world snapped up their shoes. Geico told us, “even a caveman can do it,” then branched off into a series of comedic advertisements, making them the “fun” insurance company anyone wants to do business with.

Chick-fil-A gave us “concerned” cows (and some great chicken sandwiches), asking us to “Eat more chicken.” Bud Lite has Americans—even those who don’t drink beer—saying, “Dilly dilly.”

But where does Planned Parenthood fit in to this picture? While Planned Parenthood’s advertising isn’t designed for mainstream America, its branding is so effective, most Americans believe America’s #1 abortion provider offers “reproductive health care.”

Ironically, go to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Twitter page and you’ll see a pinned tweet, telling us they defend maternal health for black women. No, they don’t see this as a joke. Friends, when you abort more black Americans than anyone else on the planet and say you defend African Americans, this takes guts. But make no mistake, to an extent, it works.

If the pregnancy help community is to become the first choice for women and men facing unplanned pregnancies then, we must compete on what is now an un-level playing field. They have more funds. They have the media.

But we’re not sitting here with nothing. In fact, perhaps the biggest obstacle to our becoming the first choice is . . . us. Really.

Perhaps I’m being harsh here, but listening to many of us in pregnancy help centers, I hear things like, “We just don’t have enough money to advertise.” Or, “We have to rely on word-of-mouth.” And, “We tried (insert advertising idea) and now we’re going to try (insert another idea).”

Tweet This: The biggest obstacle to #prolife pregnancy ministries becoming the first choice is...us. Here's what we can do about it.

Let’s take these one at a time. 

First, if we “don’t have the money” to advertise, we’re missing our mission, which is to reach out to those facing unplanned pregnancies and offer life-affirming options. We can’t serve the abortion-minded and vulnerable unless they come to us, so we must move marketing/advertising to the top of our priority list. 

We must make the case to our donors that those in the valley of decision must know who we are, where we are and how to find us. If we’re the “best kept secret” in our town, we must change what we are doing.

Our donors need to know, unless we make major investments in our marketing, those who need us will go elsewhere. We cannot let this happen. Ever. Saving lives begins by connecting with those who believe abortion is their best option. 

Second, relying on word of mouth is just one avenue to reach clients. And let’s be real, those coming by word of mouth usually—not always, but usually—come to us seeking material goods for a pregnancy they are committed to. Word of mouth is not a bad thing at all. We should be thankful for it. But it is not our primary way to reach our key audience.

Third, “we tried” is a problem. Here’s my question: How many of us have pro-life marketing experts on our staff or board? We’re not talking about someone who knows someone who can design a website, or someone who understands Instagram and Facebook. 

Here’s the question: How many of our ministries can invest $100,000 or more into accurately predicting the key words a woman or man considering abortion might Google? And how many of us can access metadata from sister organizations to find what works best, and what does not?

Too often, we guess. A board member owns some billboards, so we give the idea a shot. It’s low cost (or free!), so why not? We bring someone on staff to manage our Facebook page, part-time. Never mind that our potential clients left Facebook (except to communicate with their parents) for Instagram. 

Let’s go back to Nike, Chick-fil-A, Geico and others. Do we think Nike’s shoe designers created the ad campaign, “Just Do it?” Do we honestly believe Truett Cathy, responsible for Chick-fil-A’s yummy sandwiches, also writes commercial scripts? Did Geico use a claims adjuster to give us the camel walking through the office on hump day?

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No. No. And no. And yet, I’ve heard from so many of us who are trying to do this ourselves. 

I was around in the earlier days of this work. I vividly remember trying to come up with ways to reach our target audience. We had to do it ourselves. Thankfully, God blessed us in spite of my efforts. But we could have done so much better.

Now, God provides amazing market research by pro-life firms who can tell us almost exactly what a fearful young person in this situation might Google. More than 70 percent of potential clients find pregnancy help (or abortion) on their phones, mostly through that one search engine.

By inviting expertise into our ministries, we expand our outreach and our effectiveness. Today, there are many firms ready and willing to give us this knowledge, take on our marketing strategy, and empower us to reach those we’ve never connected with before.

Today, in Dallas for Heartbeat International’s Annual Conference, all I need to do is walk through the exhibit hall to find and access millions of dollars of extensive research.

Marketing used to be complicated, especially for us. No more. All we need to do is access and utilize its power to change our ministries. Heck, even an old caveman like me can do it.

Tweet This: "Marketing used to be complicated, especially for us. No more. All we need to do is access and utilize its power to change our ministries." @KirkWalden

Kirk Walden

Kirk Walden is a senior writer with Pregnancy Help News, an Advancement Specialist with Heartbeat International and author of The Wall. He also blogs at www.kirkwalden.com. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter (@KirkWalden) and he is a new Instagrammer (kirkwalden). For banquet speaking engagements, contact Gloria Leyda at Ambassador Speakers Bureau.

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