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Best Practices for Church Postcard Mailings

Best Practices for Church Postcard Mailings

In recent years, postcards and other church direct mail campaigns have declined in popularity.

There is still a place for them, when approached strategically…

When you think about a postcard or any church direct mail campaign, you have to start with strategy first, then delivery.

Strategy for a Mailer

1) Determine your goals / purpose

  • what are we trying to say
  • what action do we want them to take
  • what is the point of this print piece

2) Determine your audience

  • who are you trying to reach with this
  • what type of printed items do they respond to

3) Design a Card that speaks to your audience and meets your goals

  • does it look like something they would expect to see
  • does it answer the questions they might have
  • does it give a clear “next step” you want them to take
  • is there a phone number, email or web address to use for questions

4) Pick a Delivery Method

  • In-House Mailing – more than 200 units qualify for bulk mail, can send at reduced cost
  • Every Door Direct Mailing (EDDM) – every door direct mailing through postal service, target homes within a designated delivery area
  • Mail House – submit your postcard and they help you set the mailing up for delivery, if you have a mailing list they can address the cards or you can rent a list from them to target your delivery area and send directly to your community

Don’t dismiss the use of a Mail House. We found with a larger mailing that often the amount saved in postage between EDDM and Mail House covered the majority of the Mail House costs

Delivering Your Mailer

1) Print the Postcard

Before you send your mailer out, make sure you meet the requirements of your delivery method (paper type, paper weight, type of gloss on the paper, etc)

2) Mail the Card

USPS doesn’t let you invoice mailing. Make sure you have money in your Postal service account to cover an in-house mailing, or have a check ready to pay for the EDDM or Mail House.

3) Track your results

A strategy is repeatable and trackable. Make sure you count the following in connection to your mailing:

  • phone calls
  • emails
  • website visits

Make note of any questions you receive so you know what you can adjust for your next mailing

 

Case Study

Since my initial posting of this I found a great case study about the concept of church direct mail campaigns.

Kenny Jahng from butler.church interviewed Peter Gowesky, pastor of Hope City Church in Sarasota, Florida about this very topic.

Top Communication Resources for the Church

Top Communication Resources for the Church

Looking for a list of communication resources created especially for the church?

You’ve come to the right spot. Here’s my growing list of…

Top Church Communication Resources and Thought Leaders

Church Communication Thought Leaders

Center for Church Communications – A group of communicators helping local churches communicate better with our various projects

Church Marketing Sucks – The site to frustrate, educate and motivate the church to communicate, with uncompromising clarity, the truth of Jesus Christ

The Creative Pastor – Kendall Conner serves as the Creative Pastor at Piedmont Chapel in Greensboro, NC. He is a graphic designer, video editor, and all-around media geek, but above all enjoys seeing lives changed.

Pro Church Tools – Brady Shearer knows what it’s like to learn media from scratch. He uses his experience to teach others to do the same.

Church Hacks – Tips and Ideas for getting ministry done

Church Juice – Free resources to help churches communicate better. No matter the medium, it’s time to be intentional about reaching your congregation and community.

Church Train – Church Communication Training, Equipping churches, small and large, with the tools and skills to communicate effectively with those around them.

That Church Conference – Where church communications practitioners share & collaborate online.

ChurchTechToday  – Technology for Today’s Church. A tech blog focused on technology solutions to help you reach your community.

Steve Fogg  – Graphic Designer, a Creative Director, a Director and Church Communications guy passionate about sharing what he knows about branding, communications, marketing and all things digital.

Kenny Jahng – Practically Speaking. Interviews, Resources and Content about the strategy and mission behind your church communications.

Kim Meyer – Simplifying the art of effective communications… Less Chaos, Less Noise.

Phil Bowdle – Conversations on communications and the creative church

 

Church Communication Facebook Groups

Church Communications Group – closed group, solid community of active members who answer questions, direct users to other resources

Church Marketing Ideas – Adam is a church leader and is connecting people to each other and providing blog posts on church comm

Church Communications Strategies – closed group, sharing content and advice

Visual Church Media – Sponsored by church motion graphics, education, posts, examples and more

 

Church Communication Podcasts

Church Marketing Podcast – Hosted by Dave Shrein, great archive of communication related content

ProChurchTools Podcast – Covering church leadership, communication, video, design and more

 

Church Communication Conferences

That Church Conference – Practical digital communications training for churches

Salt Conference Nashville – A movement of people desperate to rebuild the creative walls of the Church, not for the sake of marketing, but the sake of engaging people with the contagious Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Simply Communicate Conference – A conference helping churches communicate what matters

Flow Creative Conference – An online creative conference helping churches connect people with God through creative arts.

3 Steps to Getting Ahead on Your Communication Projects

3 Steps to Getting Ahead on Your Communication Projects

Quality communications take time to plan, create and deliver.

Unfortunately, time isn’t always on our side, and we end up rushed, facing deadlines and the next Sunday.

So what can we do to get ahead?

How can we move from a culture of last minute communication projects to planning ahead?

1) Track The Time Your Spend On Each Project

Begin by tracking the time it takes to do different types of communication projects. Be careful not to exaggerate, but be specific about what you do for each project and the time it takes.

Include time spent:

  • in meetings about the project
  • planning
  • writing text (copy-writing)
  • designing the publication
  • proofing
  • following up with staff
  • anything else related

Do this for a couple of months and you’ll have a good handle on how much time a project takes. You’ll also know where all of your time is going.

2) Educate Your Staff and Volunteers About The Project Needs

Using the time you’ve tracked as an estimate, begin to let your staff and volunteers know the time it will take to accomplish their communication project.

Help them understand your desire to help, but be realistic with your time estimates. Work with them to find a solution to the problem, offering suggestions on how you can still help.

  • Is there something else we can do to promote this event?
  • How can we streamline this to cut the number of hours down?

If you have to say “no” to a project do it with grace, tact and prayer.

3) Create a Repeatable Project Submission Process

Let your staff and volunteers know you are there to serve, but you need to work together to help them.

Develop a written list of how you will accept project requests:

  • When you need information
  • How to submit project details
  • Promotion timelines
  • Etc.

Have a Church Communication Question You Would Like Answered?

Proof Reading: 3 Ways to Avoid Embarrassing Typos

Proof Reading: 3 Ways to Avoid Embarrassing Typos

“Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say ‘Hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you.”*

Did I read that right?

“There is joy in heaven over one singer who repents.”*

Say what?

As funny as they can be, typos can be a real challenge. They distract from the message we are trying to convey and can ruin the context completely.

But proof reading has its limits. We’re human and sometimes typos get missed.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the possibility.

That is our topic on today’s #AskRADIdeas. It comes from a Facebook post I saw in the Church Communications group which stated the following.

Proof reading fail: new bulletin just back from the printer. One letter is missing!! 15 people probably looked at this before it went out!!

There are 3 ways you can avoid embarrassing typos and improve your proof reading

1) Read Backwards (or even upside down)

Our brain naturally associates letters into groups. Looking at the first and last letters, often filling in the middle content.

If the first and last letter of a word is correct, we have a tendency to miss interior letters that are wrong, because we didn’t even look at them.

By reading backwards (or upside down) we force our brain to think through the letters one at a time. It takes time, and some practice, but it will amaze you what typos you find by doing this.

2) Send the text to someone outside your organization

When we work on a project, especially if we’ve written the text copy for it, we can lose our perspective. Not because we don’t understand, but because we are so close to the project we don’t see typos and contextual issues in it.

By sending it to someone who hasn’t spent time working on it, they can catch proof reading issues we might gloss over. Additionally, if there is something we’ve left unclear, they can bring it to our attention before it’s published.

3) Make friends with a teacher

This is closely related to number 2, but can have an additional twist. Teachers have learned to slow down and read for content and context. They will notice punctuation errors, swapped words (their and there) and other grammatical issues.

By making friends with a couple teachers you can dramatically impact the quality of your text. And, reduce the likelihood of a proof reading error.

*Bulletin bloopers courtesy of ‘Did You Read That?’Bulletin Bloopers & Church Funnies by Derric Johnson, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Copyright 2000

How to Design Reusable Templates for Your Church Staff

How to Design Reusable Templates for Your Church Staff

You’ve spent time designing a promotion, and it’s nearly perfect. But, you just realized each ministry needs the ability to include their own piece of information in the design.

You don’t want to lose the visual consistency of the project or the branding, but you need a way to allow for changes. Some way to create a template that can be easily changed by the ministry leader, without changing the design.

In today’s #AskRADIdeas Lindsay asks:

What are the best ways to design templates so different ministries can add in their own text? Right now we’re designing in InDesign then saving the template as a jpg and bringing it into word as the background layer.

3 Ways to Create Church Graphic Design Templates

1) InDesign

Part of the Adobe Creative Suite, InDesign is the best place to start when creating a template.

The process would look like this:

  1. Create your visual design
  2. Add text boxes with temporary text (Date, Time, Location, etc.)
  3. When the design is complete add a new Layer using the Add Layer feature (Window / Layers / Add Layer)
  4. Name the New Layer (Editable Text)
  5. Choose the text boxes containing the temporary text
  6. Drag them into the Editable Text layer
  7. Lock the Original Layer containing the design elements
  8. Share the InDesign file with your ministry leaders so they can make their own edits

 

2) InDesign and Adobe Reader

(idea from a Beth Moore study put out by LifeWay)

  1. Create your design in InDesign (see above: InDesign Steps 1-7)
  2. Turn off the Editable Text layer
  3. Save as a PDF
  4. Open in Acrobat Pro
  5. Add text boxes using the Tools menu (Tools / PrePare Form / Add a Text Field)
  6. Format the Text Field (Right click / Properties)
  7. Save the PDF
  8. Send the PDF to your ministry leaders

 

3) InDesign and Word or Publisher

  1. Create your design in InDesign (see above: InDesign Steps 1-7)
  2. Export the design as a JPG (File / Export)
  3. Open Word or Publisher
  4. Import the JPG design as a background image
  5. Add editable text boxes using the Add Text box options
  6. Send the file to your ministry leaders
4 Ways for Non Designers to Create Church Graphics

4 Ways for Non Designers to Create Church Graphics

You have a church event to promote, and you’re stuck. The leader wants a graphic for Sunday Slideshow, Facebook image, Sunday program and you’re just trying to get through the day.

You didn’t go to school for design, but the responsibility is on your shoulders. What can you do?

In this week’s #AskRADIdeas Debi asks the question plaguing so many church staff members.

How do I create graphics when I’m not a graphic artist?

Thankfully, there are several options for your church.

Here are…

4 Ways for Non Designers to Create Church Graphics

1) Hire a designer

A graphic designer will be able to take your project and create something uniquely tailored to your church.

You can expect the process to include a project overview where you share your topic, goals and details. The designer will then get back to you with design options. When you’ve settled on a design they will deliver the finished graphics to you.

If you are looking for custom visuals this is a great way to go. You get the experience and knowledge of a designer, without the expense of another employee.

2) Library of designs

Several companies have created “done-for-you” design libraries that your church can use.

Pick a design, download the visuals and start using them immediately. You get the quality of a professionally designed graphic, in the time it takes to download the files.

The cost for download access depends on the company. Look for monthly, yearly or life-time access plans when determining the best fit for your church.

Recommendations:

www.open-edit-print.com

www.sharefaith.com

www.ministrypass.com

3) Templates

Using templates will take away the frustration of staring at a blank screen and creating a design from scratch. They give you the flexibility of customizing your promotion, while speeding up the design process.

The process is simple:

  • Download a Word, Publisher, InDesign or Photoshop template
  • Add your unique information into the editable regions
  • Save the file
  • Start your promotions

Recommendations:

www.open-edit-print.com

www.stocklayouts.com

www.creationswap.com

4) Image Editing Software

A number of online tools are available to help you create designs without needing Photoshop. You can pick a design size, add your elements (text, images, etc.) and save the file for use.

The trade off is your time. You should expect to spend time learning the tools and then creating the graphics themselves. If you need different versions of a design (Sunday Slideshow, Facebook image, Bulletin announcement) you will need to recreate it in each format.

Recommendations:

www.sumopaint.com

www.pixlr.com

www.canva.com

www.123rf.com

How is your church creating visuals? What other options would you suggest? Let me know in the notes below.