I find myself recently being bombarded with emails asking me to buy the latest book from Joel Osteen or the attend the latest weekend seminar from Saddleback. I can only assume that these institutions are feeling the effects of the recession just like everyone else.
What is particularly interesting, however, is the increase in marketing sophistication attached to these promotional missives. Most interesting is the promotion for Joel Osteen’s new book which you can see on his website. While one always has the option to purchase the book outright, consumers are also being offered the opportunity to purchase a limited edition of the book which is signed and number.
Since when have mass produced commodities been numbered like limited edition lithographs? Oh sure, we can get into a discussion about mass produced art, but we’re talking about books that are going to be produced in the millions. What’s the value here? Being the first to get a copy? Having it signed? Is there appreciative re-sale value?
In terms of the advertising itself, there’s the feel of a PBS pledge drive in the language. “Donate this amount you and you get the signed edition of the book and the DVD.” It leads the consumer to feel like s/he’s giving something away and not simply buying a book.
It’s smart marketing, for sure. Is it smart religion? Can we even call it religion? Well, that’s for another post.