Atheists have a marketing problem. In a world where religion has a practically infinite social inertia the idea that there isn't a god and that we are the masters of our own destiny is not just a hard sell, it's inconceivable for many. Richard Dawkins and others have started marketing campaigns to introduce this novel idea to those who would not otherwise think about it. Are these campaigns working? That is anyone's guess at this point.

SETH GODIN is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change (taken from his blog). He has written books and given talks, like this TED talk, which explain why some ideas spread more efficiently than others. He states that "ideas that spread, win." This is an obvious truth. It is also an obvious truth that the world has invented innumerable religions but the dominant ones that we are left with today are successful because they were the best at spreading. Why these religions are so well adapted for spreading has been much discussed elsewhere. What we need to do, if we have an idea that we want to spread, is identify how to market our idea so that it becomes as viral as the religions we wish it to replace. We must also recognize that if it isn't spreading then perhaps the problem is not the audience but the idea.

Seth argues that today there are so many ideas and products being marketed that people have learned how to ignore them. The things which get noticed are not necessarily the best but they are the ones that are remarkable, that stand out. Seth also argues that marketing to the masses is alright if you have an enormous budget but this is a mistake because that is the market which is best at ignoring your message. The best audience to market to, he argues, is the small group of people that are passionate about the subject because they will spread your idea themselves.

Let's consider what Seth Godin would do. How would he market atheism if he wanted to promote that change? Is atheism even a marketable idea? If not, what is? That is a much discussed subject in the context of identifying what we, as individuals, stand for. I think that it needs to be identified not simply for self identity but, more importantly, for marketing.

Let's also consider advertising strategies. Absolutely anyone can market an idea today, if they are clever. Setting up a website is trivial. Viral "word of mouth" marketing gets you your audience. The trick is to create a site that is remarkable to passionate people. Bill-boards are nice but they are expensive. Are there other options?

Let's brainstorm. How can we market our message in a better way? What is the message we need to promote to accomplish our goal?

Tags: Seth Godin, advertising, marketing, strategy

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Religion spread because it was the government also. There are many atheists in politics, who wont come out, how can we tickle their fancy?
Hardly. Even in the case of the R.C.C., they were a fringe group of radical psuedo-Jews for a few hundred years, persecuted by the Roman government before they became it.
I agree with Paola. Religions and government is supposed to be separate in theory, in reality it is very determinate of who gets elected. For example it would be very hard for an atheist to be elected because of the "unofficial" religious test. There were some people who speculated that even Obama could be a closet atheist, but in order for him to get elected he had to choose a mainstream religion in order for him to be electable. I hope one day this would change. As for marketing atheism, we must show that atheist are very moral people as well as we are not "agents of Satan trying to steal their souls", as stupid as that sounds, that all we do is just refuse to believe religions that many people happen to believe. We are no different from everyone else.
Three ideas I've been toying with:

1. The idea of a free book explaining science and atheist philosophy. It would have to be written by knowledgeable people in a friendly non technical presentation. The bible, koran and other books are free ubiquitous sources for turning people into god drones, maybe a competing book would help.
Drawbacks:
A. Money (although the atheist movement is gaining momentum and there are some non believers with deep pockets.)
B. Potential for a free-for-all book backlash from the religious community. They do have money and are not afraid to use it.
C. Agreement as to how it is put together. Atheists could find some unexpected (or expected) struggles within the community about the writing of the book itself.
D. Distribution... however see item #2 below.

2. Guerilla atheism (not a new concept I'm sure, I'd like to see a movement organized.) Non-violent and non destructive strategies to spread the anti-word. Stickers in motel/hotel bibles. Radio dedications with atheist sentiment. Newspaper personal ads etc... I don't know - just throwing things out there. We should have a pool of strategies that every person can reference and do without a lot of effort.
Drawbacks:
A. Individuals taking it too far and getting negative press for the atheist community. It would happen and we know it.
B. Apathy. If the system isn't organized who would participate?

3. The relabelling of the organized religions as 'Big Religion'. This would be a slap at the money funneling major religions and be in line with some of the negative connotations we see coming from the media at present. 'Big Pharma', 'Big Government' etc...
Drawbacks:
A. It's a little nasty.
B. Do we want to stoop to the level of people that use the above terms?

Anyway... these are some ideas I've started working on in their infant stages. Let me know if they are being put forward already and any comments or criticism would be appreciated.
All good ideas. Here are my comments and suggestions about each. I don't claim to be a marketer or anything like that, just someone trying to jump-start a brainstorm and collect ideas to possibly implement my own campaign. :)

1. Free is never bad and education is good. A free book would appeal to people who are seeking information but I fear that it would be useless for the audience we would hope to engage. Lulu.com is a good solution for publishing and distribution, but it isn't free.

2. I'd like to see more "guerilla atheism". I don't share your concerns about negative press. They always say that there's no such thing as bad press. It certainly hasn't hurt any church that I know of. That is due to spin though. We don't really have a spokesman or media outlet to spin our angle unfortunately but I doubt that even matters. Public awareness counts for so much. It gets people talking and prevents people from remaining apathetic. I could be wrong though. If the public perception of atheists is that they are simply juvenile unethical delinquents then that doesn't serve our goals and could work against us. For this reason I think identifying a specific message or ideology and marketing that is the strongest approach.

3. 'Big Religion' is not bad. Anything which portrays religion as excessive, abusive, hypocritical, and anything else negative we can think of is good. Any valid comparison to other commonly condemned things is also good.
Yes, T.V. ads would be nice but programs about atheism and atheists would be better. I am the 'master of the mute button' and anything reaembling a religious commercial gets the gong in my world. However, a T.V. special about famous atheists done with a little cash behind it would be great. We get overloaded with stories from the bible etc... I agree, giving people a reference point as to which familiar faces are actually atheists would be an eye opener.
Okay this is kind of off subject but I honestly believe Barrack Obama is Atheist and can't come out because they will probably impeach him.Because he hasn't done much for other religions other than meeting with Atheists.In his swearing in speach he mentioned Atheists.So I have reason to believe that he is Atheist.
I agree with you. I think he is as well.
Does he even drag his kids to a church each week?
If so,I bet it's for show and he tells them:"Psst,don't drink the Kool Aid."
Wouldn't surprise me. Lots of people in politics is. But it simply is in most countries impossible to come out.
You know who I think also doesnt believe one whit of what he preaches; pat robertson. He just milks it for money and power. Alot of religious people do this and ironically they are considered holy while atheists who arent conniving weasels get labeled as evil. People dont even know their own religion!
He did, however, support the 'national prayer breakfast', which is a sketchy thing to do especially with the seperation of church and state people urging him to do otherwise. At the meeting he gave some lip service to his 'faith' and 'prayer'. Maybe this isn't a big deal but to not attend or endorse such a meeting would have been a statement.
Agreed. He seems too smart for that crap. The crazies already accuse him of being a msulim simply because his middle name is hussein.

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