Is Direct Mail a part of your church communication strategy?
The number of potential ways that church leaders can communicate with their people can be staggering at times. Email blasts, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your own website, billboards, flyers, postcards, smoke signals … pony express … list this goes on and on!
In the midst of all those channels I’m still a big believer in well done direct mail being an effective part of the mix of tools used to communicate to your people. According to a recent study done by the USPS 98 percent of people bring in their mail the day it’s delivered, and 77 percent sort through it immediately. When was the last time your people sorted through all their emails? How many social media status updates go unread simply because people weren’t online the moment you posted it?
In an increasingly “digital” world … old fashion direct mail has an increased value as a tool churches should leverage. People have moved their communication to online channels so often it’s only bills arriving in their mailboxes. This creates an “urgency” for people to sort through the mail … and you get to insert the “positive message” of your church adjacent to the “negative message” of all those bills! Context is a powerful way to focusing people on what you are saying! Here are some more benefits of well executed direct mail being a part of your strategy:
- Tangible // Your mailing takes up space in the homes of the people you’re sending it to. How can you design it in such a way that it will linger for a while rather than just end up in trash? What “space” can you design the piece to occupy once it arrives? Are you sending them a few invite cards for your next series and asking them to keep them in their car as a tool to invite friends? Is it a fridge magnet reminding your parents about the important dates in the student ministry?
- Targeted // Your database tells you a lot about the people in your church. Rather than just “broadcasting” the same message to everyone you can leverage that data to send different people different direct mail pieces. You can send a letter to people who you know were in a small group last semester asking them if they will be attending again this coming semester while at the same time mailing people who aren’t in a group information on how to get plugged into one. Leverage the fact that you are focus your pieces to wide variety of audiences in your church.
- Cost Effective // Every church leader is looking for ways to stretch their communication dollars farther. Start by sending a series of postcards to your people which are pennies to print and deliver. In comparison to other forms of “advertising” this is an inexpensive way to get the message out. The economies of scale are nice with direct mail as well … generally the more you print the less expensive each piece is to print and send!
Where have you seen direct mail used effectively in a church communications strategy? I’d love to hear about it!
Rich, we’ve used “mail outs” as we call them, for most of our major events. We send out direct mail via Canada Post to the area code just around Westheights (which is about 7000 houses) for Christmas Eve, so they don’t get stuffed with flyers, etc. Your tips are great. Here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to sending it out:
1. Quality. This matters more then anything. If your going to send out something printed on a splodgy photocopier in black and white – don’t. While people are getting more and more things digitally, the print they do receive is almost always in high-quality, full colour on good paper. Make sure it’s well designed, proofed, and interesting. Whoever does your work (hired or in house), make sure that what you make is in line with the other things people are seeing. Get the best paper you can afford. Always use card stock (it holds up better, can’t get folded easily, etc.). I honestly believe that if what you send out doesn’t look like it’s close to as good as Starbucks, Apple or other leaders of design work, don’t send it. Better off with word of mouth.
2. Don’t Put it With Flyers. Many local papers will send out ‘flyer bundle’ where lots of adds are packed inside the paper. Don’t do this. People mostly through these out, and if they do look at them, there’s usually at least 20 or so (more so at Christmas time). So don’t be one-in-twenty. Talk to the post office, or other delivery services so that it gets put right in mailboxes with regular mail.
I agree that in a digital age print isn’t dead, it’s just more rare – which makes it valuable. If your church wants to stand out, design well made direct mail and people will notice.