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Print: Budget Friendly Ways to Get Your Church Message Seen

Print: Budget Friendly Ways to Get Your Church Message Seen

For many churches, print has been the sole means of sharing for decades. The trusty bulletin has held a treasure trove of weekly events, Bible studies and church family news.

As time has progressed, the effectiveness of the bulletin has changed. Many church attenders are too busy for the bulletin to be the only source of information. They expect information to come in multiple forms and the church has been slow to respond.

Unfortunately, rather than address the issue, many churches have questioned print as a whole. Wondering if it is still a viable way to reach their church and community.

While I’ll be the first to admit the use of print has changed, many have abandoned it more as a reaction than a strategic decision.

From a strategic standpoint, print is not dead.

In fact, dramatic reductions in print costs have made it more viable than ever before. Print projects that once cost hundreds of dollars now cost pennies per page. What was once out of reach for most churches is now an option to consider. It’s no longer a question of if we can afford it, but of how we can use it strategically.

In the first article in this series I promised practical, budget friendly steps for sharing your churches story. I’d like to share a 4 step solution for how to use print that I’ve found effective in my church work.

Step 1: Recognize the purpose of print

Inform

As church leaders, we spend hours planning ministry opportunities and events. We know the details in and out and assume everyone is on the same page. Our church however, arrives on Sunday to hear about the opportunity for the first time.

As we share, they mentally process: Should I attend? Who can babysit? What does it cost?

By the end of an announcement they’ve only heard half of it and have questions.

For an increasingly visual society, seeing written details helps solidify information and provides a way to take the information and reference it long after an announcement is over.

Remind

The average person needs to hear about an opportunity 3-7 before they make a decision.

When we give our church multiple ways of discovering the details, we reinforce the information. Reinforced information leads to fewer questions and an increased likelihood of a positive response.

Invite

Every attender in your church knows someone who needs to hear what your church has to say.

Unfortunately, starting the conversation can be a challenge.

When you provide resources for your church to invite others it takes part of the stress away. They are free to connect without fear of forgetting something important and feeling foolish.

Step 2: Determine what promotions your church will use

 (Here’s some suggestions from my own experience)

Inform

Bulletin
This doesn’t have to be extravagant. It just needs to include basic details, event purpose and contact information. Let people know the difference participating will mean for their lives.

Welcome Card
Let your visitors/guests know how glad you are they joined you. Provide a brief overview of upcoming service dates and times. Young families are interested in children and youth information.  Let them know what to expect at your church so they feel comfortable.

Remind

Postcard
A simple half sheet postcard can be the difference between people attending or not.
It gives an opportunity to; keep information in front of your church, connect with those who haven’t attended in a while, and hang the details on the fridge

Poster
Enlarge your postcard or flyer for use around your church. It is a great way to keep continuity between your event visuals and the details. It also reinforces your other communications by reiterating the information.

Invite

Flyer
We live in a visual world and our community expects the church to be no different. A half sheet flyer is a cost effective way of connecting your event visuals and details for people in your community. Make them available for your congregation to hand out as they share about your church.

Invite Card
Repurpose the Welcome Card into a form your church can use as invitations. Include general church information (dates, times, etc) so it has a longer shelf life.

Step 3: Create your promotions

This can feel like the most daunting part of the process but it doesn’t need to be. The falling cost of print has brought a growing list of options for creating quality promotions.

To help, I’ve compiled a list of…

  • Design and Publishing Software
  • Image Editing and Creation Options
  • Free and Low Cost Image and Artwork Sources
  • Font Suppliers
  • Done For You Design Providers

The file is available for download by clicking here. It’s a PDF and contains a brief description of what each solution provides, along with a link to learn more.

Step 4: Print the promotions

This is the fun part: seeing your creation come off the printer and putting it in the hands of your church.

Many local copy machine companies now offer color printers with outstanding quality. By shopping around, our church found solutions that allowed us to print for pennies per page. Check with your current provider about the options available to you.

If you need help with color printer solutions check out…

Lifeway.com – they have discounts available on machines from Canon. The products are good and the pricing is very competitive.

Xerox  – they run specials for churches where they provide free printers in exchange for purchasing print supplies from them.Depending on your needs and print volume, the program is a good solution to consider.

Some churches find managing print projects to be a challenge. If you are looking for professional printing of postcards, flyers, banners and more, I’ve included a list of printers in this resource.

They have all done work for churches or other non-profits I work with and have good customer service.

Print is not dead, and I hope you see ways your church can use this medium to impact your community in greater ways.

If you have any questions or comments about other ways to use print in churches let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Download the Resources

This post appeared first on ChurchTechToday.com

Email: How to reach your church through their INBOX

Email: How to reach your church through their INBOX

Let’s face it, there is nothing glamorous about email.

For many,  it is a necessary evil that invades our space with info we’d rather ignore.

But, done well, email gives churches a way to tell their story in a user-friendly way that members are already engaged with.

The question is how do we do it well? What steps can we take to keep cost low and deliver a quality email people want to open and read?

We need to understand…

The Power of Email

Email is the communication medium of choice for several reasons.

  • low cost
  • ease of setup
  • its personal (goes to the user)
  • its part of our everyday lives
  • its transactional (people can interact with you)
  • email has nearly 3x as many user accounts as Facebook and Twitter combined (2.9 billion)  statistic from https://blog.kissmetrics.com/email-crushes-social-media/

A look at the total emails sent every day vs the number of social media posts its even more staggering.

Email_infographic

 

With reach far exceeding social media, email has the potential to be a powerful communication tool. If we know how to use it.

Unfortunately, email has some…

Challenges

Personal email plans, like the kind you get from Yahoo, MSN, or Google, are created to send messages to small groups of people. Try to send a large group message and you run into trouble.

Email providers track every message that passes through their systems. They don’t read them, but they measure…

  • number of recipients
  • percentage of emails opened
  • number of links clicked
  • number of undeliverable emails (bad addresses, typos, etc.)
  • number of emails marked spam

Each of these areas has a point value assigned to it. Below a specified point value your email goes through. Hit the next level and your emails go into the junk mail folder. Exceed the final level and they label you a spammer and block your account.

If you’ve ever fought to get your account unblocked its not fun. My IT buddy has done it several times and its a long, ugly process.

Solutions

There are two options to help get around this.

Option 1: Church Email

  • Create a dedicated email address that is only used for church communications
  • Write your email
  • Format your content
  • Copy and paste names out of your contact list
  • Send the message to a small number of recipients, every 5-10 minutes, until your list is complete. (Every provider has different rules for number of emails and time between matching subject lines.)
  • Use a tracking service, like Sidekick, to make sure people are opening your emails ($10 a month)
  • Track and purge bad addresses from your contact list regularly
  • Pray you don’t get banned

Option 2: Email Service

  • Import your email addresses
  • Pick a template
  • Write your email
  • Send your message
  • Let the service track
    • opens
    • reads
    • clicks
    • bad addresses
  • Watch your email analytics to know what is working and what’s not
  • Contact tech support when you need help

Most likely, Option 1 is a slightly different angle on your current approach. Before you discount Option 2 take a look at the breakdown.

Email_infographic2

 

If you have fewer than 2000 email addresses in your list MailChimp is free. You get access to their basic tools and analytics with options to upgrade if you need extras. They take the headache out of Option 1 and keep your email from getting flagged. And, for the price, you can’t beat it.

Email is the communication medium of choice. While I haven’t addressed the importance of writing engaging content,  I hope this post helps you share your story in budget friendly ways and avoid the most common technical issues.

 

This post appeared first on ChurchTechToday.com