The Parable Group opened in fall of 1985, in the back room of a Christian bookstore in downtown San Luis Obispo, California. At the time, The Parable Group had two part-time employees, one of which was Steve Potratz.
Steve and his wife Laurie created a simple flyer for their independent Christian retail store called The Parable. It impressed a fellow store owner so much that he asked Steve to print a few for his customers, and the idea of an independent marketing group was born. On a foundation of catalogs, The Parable Group was the first group of its kind to strategically market on behalf of independent Christian retailers.
The business has endured: The Parable Group is celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2015.
Today, under Potratz’s leadership, The Parable Group serves 179 independent Christian retailers and 120+ faith-based product and service providers with customized advertising, innovative marketing and digital solutions that reach and engage the Christian consumer on their behalf.
Over those three decades, The Parable Group has employed hundreds of people. Many former employees have graduated to leadership at companies such as Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, David C. Cook, Tyndale House Publishers, B&H, Capitol Christian, Living on the Edge, PureFlix, Gap, Nike and LinkedIn.
Former employee, Cheryl Kerwin, now Senior Marketing Manager at Tyndale House Publishers says, “Throughout my 30+ years in the CBA industry, I have been fortunate enough to work for leaders who not only were good business minds, but had a heart and passion for ministry. Parable taught me how to make sure we had our retailer’s best interest in mind when working with vendors to develop promotions for products that were going to make a difference in the consumers’ lives. Now I am able to better understand what type of products and promotions retailers need in order to minister to the spiritual needs of people and I have Parable to thank for that.”
“God orchestrated the last thirty years,” Potratz says. “He faithfully brought us the right people at the right time to help develop the business and impact millions of lives with the products and services that we’ve marketed for stores and vendors. I’ll continue to trust Him as we continue to deliver life-changing content to the Christian consumer.”
The Parable Group has since sent over 388 million catalogs and 64 million emails to Christian consumers. They’ve also reached and engaged Christian consumers through newspaper inserts, television commercials, radio ads, targeted shared mail, postcards, social media campaigns, online display advertising and pre-roll video ads. Their multi-channel approach to marketing provides retailers and brands with customized solutions to fit their unique needs.
“At the end of the day, The Parable Group is about connecting people to Christ-centered products that change lives,” Potratz says. ”That’s what’s kept me going for the last three decades, and it’s what will drive The Parable Group for the next thirty years.”
The Parable Group plans to commemorate their 30th anniversary in several ways throughout 2015. For starters, in the coming months they will be recognizing retailers who have also been in business for at least 30 years.
The Parable Group is also asking their vendors, retailers and industry partners to share their favorite memories of working together. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments will be collected in a vault, with one pulled out each month. Each month’s winner will receive a $30 Visa gift card.