Don’t you worry that sending postcards to the neighborhoods around your church is a waste of money?
A denominational executive said to me recently, “We’ve stopped letting our church planters send postcard invitations. They don’t work.”
I understand his reasoning. I’ve seen dozens of postcards that were completely ineffective. I’ve mailed out a few myself.
But by careful trial and error, I’ve discovered six ways to guarantee that your postcard mailing is productive. Use these tips to pull off a mailing that attracts newcomers to your church.
1. Send more than a single invitation.
A few years ago, I received a postcard in the mail from a firm that offers help in the field of college planning. I glanced at the card, thought to myself, “I’ve never heard of these people, and who needs help with college planning anyway?” and threw the card in the trash.
Six months later, I received a second card. With this one I thought, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen these guys before.” And threw it in the trash.
Six months later, I received a third card. I thought, “I’ve seen these guys before and my son is about to go to college. What have I got to lose?” I called and set an appointment. I was too late to help my son. But they helped my daughter garner over $30,000 worth of grants and scholarships. It was a win-win for both of us. Had the college planners stopped at one postcard, I never would have found them. Which would have been a lose-lose for both of us.
Postcards have two things going for them: they build awareness and they create credibility. Awareness comes every time you mail. Credibility comes over time.
Churches that are serious about reaching their communities find that mailing postcards three to five times a year can be the backbone of an effective outreach strategy.
2. Invite to an event.
Anyone in your area who is looking for a church will look on the Internet. So make sure you have a good website. If you’re mailing postcards to reach lost people, you need to take a different approach.
Analyze your junk mail and you’ll find that none of the successful franchises ever invite you to their store. They invite you to their sale. And that sale is for a limited time.
Savvy marketers know that if they invite you to come any time, you’ll come no time. After all, why do today what you could just as easily do tomorrow? An effective mass mailer never invites you to an institution; it invites you to an event.
To get the most out of your mailer, use it to invite people to a specific series.
Make sure the series is relevant to your audience. Craft clear and compelling titles that promise to give the reader something she wants: “The Purpose Driven Life,” “Building Better Families,” and “Answering Your Questions about God” are titles that tell you what you’ll be getting and promise you something you’ve been wanting.
A card also can invite to a Grand Opening. Those are exciting, and only happen once. Or it can invite to a special guest speaker. Hearing from a former Mafia boss, or a quadriplegic triathlete, could be intriguing, and that guy will only be at your church on a specific Sunday. When I receive an invitation to an event like that I think, “If I’m ever going to go, it’s going to be on that day.”
3. Minimize decision making.
Lion tamers learned a long time ago to use a chair, not a stick, because the four legs of a chair present the lion with too many choices. In that way, humans are like lions. We can only decide on one thing at a time. Given too many choices, we choose nothing. Some churches mail out postcards that invite everyone to church, plus women to the women’s ministry, men to the men’s ministry, teens to the youth group, and kids to Sunday School. That card is too confusing.
Too many things to decide on motivates me to decide not to decide.
You want to offer potential guests one choice. When you craft a card, craft one message, about one event, sermon, or sermon series. It’s okay to mention on the back of the card that you’ve got superior coffee and a great kids ministry. But like a good sermon, you want to communicate one message on one subject.
4. Invite the right people.
A small church that invites people to drive a long distance is whistling in the wind.
Likewise, a church that mails postcards in the wrong direction is wasting their breath. People will drive to church in the direction they drive to work. They may drive a short distance in the opposite direction because they go to the grocery store near you. But they won’t drive into territory they aren’t used to for an experience they’re unsure of.
Figure out your church’s “natural footprint” by noticing where your current attendees are coming from and mail into those neighborhoods.
5. Mail to women, but show men.
In most families, men make the recreational decisions and women make the social decisions. He decides what toys they are going to buy; she decides which social events they’re going to attend. Going to church is a social decision. Most of the time, it’s the female who persuades the family to go to church.
When designing your postcard, design it to attract women.
The number one thing a woman wants in a church is a place where her husband and sons will feel comfortable. She doesn’t want to go to church alone, and she doesn’t want spiritually malnourished males. To attract mothers to your church, put pictures of smiling husbands and sons on your postcards. It’s okay to having smiling women, too. Just make sure there are smiling men.
6. Use every other other means, too.
A regular system of mailers can be the anchor for your mass outreach efforts. But it shouldn’t be the only tool you use.
In last week’s post, I mentioned that it usually takes six invitations to induce someone to come to church. If you mail three postcards per year, it will take you two years to get potentially interested people to attend.
Accelerate the process by issuing other invitations as well.
If you can, print a business card sized invitation for every seeker relevant series and put two of them in each bulletin in the weeks leading up to the series. Encourage your members to use these cards to invite their friends. Use door hangers and social media, too. If it’s relevant and cost effective in your community, use radio, newspaper, magazines, billboards and bus stops. Every invitation builds “top of the mind awareness”, which the Holy Spirit can use to tug people toward His church.
Now, Pastor, would you like to build credibility and awareness in the neighborhoods near your church? Here are some action steps:
- Decide to which events in the next twelve months you want to invite people – like an attractional sermon series, a Wow speaker, or a special kids’ event.
- Make room in the budget. If you are thinking that your church doesn’t have this kind of money for marketing, you may want to work on your church’s financial system. My ebook Developing Generous Givers will help you implement some strategies that will lead to better financial health and more room for outreach in your church budget.
- My friends at Outreach, Inc. can help you with designing and mailing your postcards.
I can tell you dozens of stories of changed lives, of changed families, because a postcard from our church landed in their mailbox just when they needed an invitation to church. Use postcards right, and attract your community to Christ.
- Which is the Best Church Marketing Tool to Reach your Neighborhood?
- [Ebook] Attracting More Newcomers
- I Need Help to Attract Newcomers
Start Here to learn more about the resources available for you at PastorMentor.