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 has been entrenched for thousands of years. tens of thousands, and perhaps much longer. 120 years or even 500 years is really nothing. Progress seems slow to us sometimes because we only individually live 70-100 odd years, but trust me, its extremely fast, and extremely unprecidented. I give it less than 75 years, maybe even 50.
I am by no means complacent.

I devote every single day of my life to education, empowerment of others, and fighting ignorance in every way I can. I fight to protect democracy and free speech, open access to the internet, encourage and support secular educational foundations and secular work in science and technology. My beef here is starting some "atheist church" is utterly backwards and the wrong approach. We simply must support and maintain freedom of thought, free exchange of ideas, access to education, and knowledge. Our "bible" is things like wikipedia, science texts, peer reviewed journals, and websites like this one.
My beef here is starting some "atheist church" is utterly backwards and the wrong approach.

I have to agree with this sentiment, there isn't a set of ideas attached to atheism to sell, there isn't a dogma to follow, it is pretty hard to market nothing.

It is why I highlighted the visibility aspect, wider acceptance is what I strive to produce as a result of my world view. Creating a space in which people do not have to be afraid to be themselves, and are able to express their own identity.

We simply must support and maintain freedom of thought, free exchange of ideas, access to education, and knowledge.

Well put.
I agree and disagree. Atheism offers nothing and the idea of marketing it, as an idea, is rather preposterous. Rather, it is the idea of the danger of religion that most atheist authors and freethinkers try to market.

I have always been skeptical of freethinking church-like organizations. It is clear to me, though, that many people need a framework of ethics and belief that religion and a church community offer. Atheism isn't a religion or a system of belief and it should never be suggested that it is. The majority of people do need some system of belief, a dogma if you will, in order to live their lives. I do not agree that this should be so, but I recognize that it is so. Most people absolutely do not want to think philosophically and are quite content to accept the views of their majority peers.

This discussion was not intended to propose that lack of belief in gods is an idea worth marketing but to be a forum to discuss goals and methods.
The majority of people do need some system of belief, a dogma if you will, in order to live their lives.

We have these already, laws and social codes of conduct. Most people would already agree that harming others is wrong even if religion didn't preach that this was so.

I understand what you are trying to accomplish in this thread, I think it is important, I just think that it is also important to be careful of how the idea is approached.

The danger as I see it is atheism being sold as a replacement of religion, when it is more of a reaction to it. One day maybe religion and atheism can be relegated to the pages of history as a strange and confusing time for our species.
Well said!
"The danger as I see it is atheism being sold as a replacement of religion, when it is more of a reaction to it."

Who here said that atheism is a replacement for religion? Not I.

I said that some people seem to require a dogma. Atheism is not a dogma. It's for other established or yet to be invented ideologies to fill this role, if it needs to be filled.

I should never have mentioned the 'atheist church' concept. I thought it should be transparent to everyone that this concept does not imply an actual church centered around disbelief in gods. It's ludicrous to imagine. I was referring to organizations like so I should have used another name, though I'm ignorant what these organizations should be called apparently.
What in the world do you think goes on in atheist churches like Ethical Societies other than the support and maintenance of freedom of thought, free exchange of ideas, access to education and knowledge? That's exactly what they are about. It's their primary selling point. *facepalm*
Agreed. Never underestimate human mindlessness. I mean, Hitler was one person but it took the people to make his vision a reality. Humans devolve more than evolve and thats what cronies like pat robertson and his fundie nuttos want and count on. Thats what they invest their money in. True evil is these people but the 'masses' dont see it because theyve been taught that all christians are good. Theyve been taught to think in a myopic manner.
i'd have to say the "atheist church" idea is the best for advertising, and great for support for the atheist on the internet, meet in a physical building, have intelligent discussions, and organize community activities. maybe even have an "open mic" night for discussions with theists...let them know we are intelligent, loving, caring people that are mechanics, contractors, mall security...let them know normal, regular, every day people just like them, and not just the "intellectual elite" glenn beck would have them believe are out there, and that we don't believe in a god...and that we are good people, and maybe gain some "converts", and just gain slow momentum in small towns and large cities across the may be slow, but i think it would be steady, and more acceptable to the mainstream public.
our "churches" are secular universities, public schools, and secular corporations. Even some supposedly religious corporations are 99.9% secular in their activities (Christian Science Monitor, most "catholic" universities and colleges...etc.)
That's like saying rocks and trees are secular. It's pointless to pretend like there is no place for regular community support of progressive values.
Hey, if you want to go have meetups with friends or set up your own "atheist church" its a free country, I'm only trying to point out that I believe it would be unhelpful to the cause of thwarting religion if we simply copied religious practices sans god.

Ultimately, atheism is equally as irrelevant as religion. Once religion becomes irrelevant, so does atheism. The thing that makes them both irrelevant is science, learning, knowledge, universities...etc. so I'm just cutting to the chase and focusing my efforts there.


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