Last month I got one of those mailings from a nearby church inviting me to their Easter service with the words: “If you don’t have other plans… Come Have Free Breakfast with Your Neighbors This Sunday“. They had me at free.
What’s it cost?
I went to https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm and punched in my zipcode and figured it would cost about 15 cents postage a piece. There were 12,000 addresses in my zipcode! ….so fortunately you can select “Carrier Routes” within your zipcode to target specific neighborhoods. GREAT, I thought, but which carrier routes should I select? The usps site was no help.
I did some googling and came up with Search Bug. SEARCH BUG tells me (for free) what the carrier routes are in my zipcode, how many households are in each, and what the avg INCOME of that route is. Most importantly, there’s a MAP showing the carrier routes, so that I can target people living around the church. http://www.searchbug.com/tools/cartzip.aspx
The USPS site tells you to find a printer in your area who can print the piece AND mail it using the Every Door Direct Mail protocols. Figure your printed piece will cost you another 25 cents a piece. More if it’s in color. The printer will prepare them for mailing and all you have to do is tell them what carrier routes you want it sent to.
Direct Mail has it’s purposes, strengths and weaknesses.
Forget a “generic” mailing. Most people in your neighborhood already know:
-where you are
-when your service is (they can read your sign)
-and why they don’t come
I think it would make MOST SENSE to use it to advertise “community events” that bring people on your property. Things like neighborhood VBS’, carnivals, concerts, mission yard sales, and yes, even “free Easter breakfast.”
I would also advertise what makes you different, for example, an alternative worship service, or counseling services, or the fact that you have a new preacher who’s a lot better than the old one! (actually, not kidding about that)
When people come to THOSE events, hit them with your church flyers. Then remember to personally follow up on them to welcome them back. (See my recent posts about “shopping for a new church” for how BEST to collect visitor info).
You can view neighborhood addresses online and create your OWN mailing addresses by cutting and pasting from those online lists. Go to your local tax assessor’s property tax website. The names and address of every homeowner in your neighborhood is a matter of public record, and most municipalities have them online now.
You can also have your youth group walk the neighborhood with flyers. Order some PENS emblazoned with your church’s name and website and attach them to the flyer so it can be dropped off at a front door and not blow away. A dozen kids can do 200 homes in no time at all.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit blew the Disciples out of their safe upperroom and into the crowd milling about in the neighborhood. And it gave them the gift of speaking in new ways.
Maybe it’s time for a few new approaches in your church too.