Knowing Our Audiences

Martyrs Mirror. Gather ’Round curriculum. Bulletin covers. Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations cookbook. Rejoice! daily devotional. Church and Sunday School Hymnal. Weaving Life DVD. Fifty Shades of Grace.

This list gives a glimpse into the great variety of products produced by MennoMedia. From Sunday school curriculum to church products and periodicals to trade books, how does it all fit together?

Our book imprint, Herald Press, accounts for roughly 32 percent of our total business. And our curriculum, periodicals, and other products for churches account for about 54 percent of our income.

But it’s not like we have two clear-cut audiences: the trade book audience and the congregational audience. For one, there is overlap between trade book customers and congregations. And I believe there are multiple audiences within each of those markets as well.

In recent weeks we have had conversations about identifying our audiences. This organizational exercise of naming audiences helps us understand our customers and our market, which in turn helps to ensure that the products we are in the midst of producing are going to meet the needs of at least one of our target audiences.

So who are the audiences of MennoMedia? Right now my list includes (in no particular order):

      • Plain Mennonites, Amish, and other conservative Anabaptist groups. This is a growing population, largely due to high birth rates. This audience is primarily interested in some of our legacy products, such as Church and Sunday School Hymnal, Martyrs Mirror, and Doctrines of the Bible.119731261 (1)
      • People who identify with Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada. This is a core audience for us, as we are the publishing agency of these two denominations. Our Sunday school curriculum, bulletin series, periodicals, and church supplies are all targeted to this audience. And while I have identified this as an “audience,” within these two denominations there are really many “audiences.” For example, there is the slowly aging demographic of Caucasian Mennonites while there is exploding growth among Hispanic Mennonites. One of our challenges is to resource the needs across the church. Gather Round Product 006
      • People interested in all things Mennonite or Amish for cultural reasons. This audience is led by middle-aged Christian women who enjoy things like reading Amish or Mennonite fiction or memoir, touring Amish and Mennonite heritage sites, and learning about “Mennonite” cooking.
      • People who seek to live by (named or unnamed) Anabaptist principles. This is a growing demographic among all ages but is especially appealing to millennials and Gen Xers. This audience cares about causes, such as building community, simple living, social justice, earth care, active peacemaking, and self-care.
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The above list is not comprehensive. It’s in flux, and likely always will be, as we at MennoMedia continue to adapt to the changing needs of publishing and changing demands of our audiences.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and reflections about how we at MennoMedia can continue to meet the needs of our many audiences.

–Amy Gingerich, editorial director

Amy Gingerich