#Channels: Mail

Here’s a terrible predicament: having endless paper in a paperless world.1 The world is definitely going digital. I know it’s not uncommon for small newspapers to have been made obsolete by Facebook. It’s a lot easier to share an article written by a much larger news syndicate than it is to wait for and read a local paper to tell us about the same event several days after the fact. That doesn’t mean direct mailing is obsolete as well. There are a few special features inherent in direct mail: it’s physical, it’s branded, it’s timely, and it’s local.

There are several memes floating around the worldwide web that show the difference between millennials fifteen years ago and now. We were incredibly excited to have received an e-mail a decade and a half ago; it was novel and digital. We felt like we were adults in an office, getting a glimpse into the weird world of ties and briefcases. Now, we’re inundated with both relevant and irrelevant e-mail all day, so receiving something physical in the mail can be a treat. For those who share this sentiment, the physical experience is refreshing and a break from the digital milieu.

Physical mailers can be designed for a specific event, series, or your church in general. The postcard becomes a physical artifact of the mission and message of the church. This is where great copy and design are necessary. The mailer itself must be eye-catching, and the invite/offer has to be strong. Prayer and quality separate an effective mailer from those that receive the glance-and-toss maneuver. In the same way that a mailer can be designed for a specific event, it can be sent in concert with them to get attention and create some traction.

“Word of mouth is the best way get attention but mailing casts a broader net and actually paves the way for face-to-face conversations later.”

One of the biggest strengths of direct mailing is that they are localized. This strategy is best seen as a way to help locals become aware of your church. They can’t visit if they haven’t heard of it. Word of mouth is the best way get attention but mailing casts a broader net and actually paves the way for face-to-face conversations later.

Some warnings

As we’ve mentioned in another post, “everything communicates something.” This is especially true of actual communiques! If designs are shoddy and poorly created, they’ll let the recipients know that quality isn’t important to your organization. In the same way – and this is more crucial – our designs must be up-to-date. Dated graphics can communicate that what we have to say is also archaic and irrelevant.

“Dated graphics can communicate that what we have to say is also archaic and irrelevant.”

We want to help you think about the last few sentences. A small business owner was at a printing conference and was told that Chick-Fil-A was his competition. He was incredulous and thought the speaker was at the wrong conference, then realized that he had a point. When CFA delivers stellar customer service, they are setting the bar for how customers expect to be treated. Those same customers end up being employees at other places, like the businesses that order custom printing. If their fast food service is stellar, why shouldn’t their commercial printer meet the same expectation?

Brands are pushing their products, services, and lifestyles onto people at an incredible rate. It’s projected that individuals see 5,000 brand impressions on a daily basis.2 And those big brands have a high production level. Now the general populous is becoming more keen to advertising and quality – and they dismiss the unqualified.

Changing how we communicate – but staying faithful to the message – has been the method of Christians since Paul, who became all things to all people, quoted pagan philosophers, and went the extra mile to remove stumbling blocks for his audience. Quality design ends up being a small price to pay to begin to build trust with our communities.

“Quality design ends up being a small price to pay to begin to build trust with our communities.”

An easy way to ruin that trust is spamming. When we discuss social media advertising, we’ll recommend a steady, year-round ad strategy with spikes around special events. Direct mailing should only be used in concert with those spikes, not year-round. Not only is it expensive, but it erodes trust and gets our messages dismissed immediately.

One Guiding Tip

If you don’t know where to start with direct mailing, find significant events in your community for the next quarter, make a postcard calendar of them, and send that as your mailer. Make sure your church’s logo is on the document somewhere, but don’t make your church the main topic of conversation. There are a few benefits here: it will show that you care about the community, and it will get the church’s name out there. Lastly, people who don’t attend your church aren’t likely to put your calendar on their refrigerator, but they will be more inclined to put a local calendar there.


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