One of the most accessible--and affordable--methodologies for reaching the public is direct mail postal advertising. Even in the internet age, a well-done, well-timed print piece can still catch the attention of people of all age groups.
Direct mail allows you to target a small audience which you have "hand selected" to receive your message.
You can use a demographics program, such as Mission Insite, to help generate a mailing list.
Bulk mail is the least expensive form of mailing, but this is not the most effective way in which to introduce your church to the public. Direct mail is addressed to specific individuals, packaged in as "personal" a way as possible, and sent first or second class. It is not junk mail; it's business mail--the same kind of mail used by most American businesses because it has proved cost and response effectiveness. With a quality direct mailing, anticipate a one to three percent
Types of Direct Mail
Your direct mail may take the form of letters, brochures, booklets, post cards, circulars--or any other form you wish to create. Many brochures use a "self-mailer" format.
If your mailing requires an envelope, consider using a plain white envelope. Studies prove an individual is more likely to open an "anonymous" looking piece of mail. Or have a special, very colorful envelope printed with some enticing message which will draw the reader inside.
Remember: getting your direct mail piece out is half the battle; however, influencing the recipient to open and read your piece is even more essential.
There are postal regulations which govern direct mail, especially reguarding size. Before you print anything wildly unusual, run it by your local postmaster to see if it meets their guidelines. he post office will supply you with guidelines, permit information, etc. upon request.
Utilizing Mailing Lists
One option is to purchase a mailing list from a company specializing in this service. Many have demographic information, enabling you to specify very precise audiences: first-home owners; specific income brackets; parents; senior citizens; etc. Usually, the more detailed your breakdown, the greater your cost.
The Office of Connectional Ministries recommends using MissionInsite, a demographics ministry,
Since people now are willing to drive some distance to attend the church of their choice, buying by zip code may not be as beneficial as it once was. Churches are not necessarily targeting their immediate neighbors. The only real value in geographical lists may be that they enable you to hand-deliver your mailings, thus saving the expense of postage.
It requires more effort but you may consider developing your own mailing list. Use sources readily available to you such as: the registration from your Mother's Morning Out or pre-school program, the names of members of an A.A.R.P. group meeting in your fellowship hall, people who purchased tickets to a tour of homes or concert your church presented.
Style Makes the Difference
Today, the secular world shops churches just as they shop for the best "value" in other areas. In your direct mail efforts, show them--don't just tell them--why your church should become the church they call home.
Spend a little extra to have your printer (or perhaps even a commercial artist) create a print piece others will notice and pause to read.
In a brochure, an interesting, invitational statement such as: "It's easy to forget what's really important. So don't." That, coupled with a photo or drawing of parent and child, has a good chance of attracting parents.
Remember to tell people how they might be benefited. That's a universal trick of advertising because it works.
Avoid theological jargon. Be conversational. Don't preach. Just speak naturally and warmly. Remember that you are mirroring God's love to the world.
Someone has said that the average direct mail piece has four seconds in which to make its "pitch.” Presentation is everything! Sounds difficult? Not really. Be mindful of what you are saying—make an impact quickly. You have four seconds to make and impression.
Ask yourself the following three questions to determine your goal:
1) to whom am I speaking?
2) what do they think about my product or service now?
3) what do I want them to think?
Look at it often as you create your direct mail campaign. Don't stray from this goal.
When was the last time you responded to something you received in the mail? Be aware of what works with you. If you think it's good, a similar approach may work as effectively in your direct mail campaign.
Generally, the fewer the words the better. However, make sure you use enough words to accomplish your goal. Tell them why they should come and "invite" them. Always tell the customer what is in it for her. Highlight the benefits, not the features.