Reimagining Third Way Cafe

One of the many things that MennoMedia produces is Third Way Café. This site was launched some 15 years ago by Mennonite Media as a source for basic information about Mennonites, including history, beliefs, present-day values and thinking from an Anabaptist viewpoint.

There are over one million Internet searches each month for “Mennonite,” and Third Way Café is one of the places where people turn for information.

Our analytics show that we’ve had 70,000 visitors via computer since June—with half of them coming via a Google search. Plus there have been another 30,000 that came to Third Way Café via mobile devices—with 20,000 from iPhones.

And the numbers go up considerably when stories related to Amish or Mennonites make the mainstream news—or when Amish reality TV shows begin another season.

Our viewership statistics are impressive, and we are paying close attention right now as we get ready to launch a reconceptualization and redesign process for Third Way Café.

While some sections of the site are rarely accessed, others—such as the “Who are the Mennonites?” page—are heavily used. With a growing number of people interested in knowing about Mennonites, we want Third Way Café to continue to be a strong presence for searches about Mennonite faith and life.

As we embark on this reconceptualization and redesign process, we are asking ourselves:

We will work on this reconceptualization and redesign process both internally and externally in coming months.

To get us started, I welcome your feedback on Third Way Café.

  • How would you critique it?
  • How could we improve it?
  • How can we better use it as a communications tool for Mennonite Churches and for MennoMedia?

Looking forward to your input!

Amy Gingerich, editorial director

Amy Gingerich

 

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.
        81747677 (1)

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