Does Direct Mail Still Work?

I asked several of my church planters recently, “Does direct mail still work?” and here are their real-world experiences:

We have had a GREAT responses to mailers, and we have had a so-so responses to mailers. Here is the key: send 5 pieces of mail per house for the response you want. If you have a low budget, send to fewer people more times. When we have sent out [only] 1 or 2, we have wasted our money. However, we had over 200 people from mailers at both our Raleigh and Apex campus launches when we sent 5 pieces to 40,000 homes for a total of 200,000 pieces. It cost about $35,000, but was worth every dime when you consider [all the families that got plugged in,] not to mention we saw many, many people place their faith in Christ once they got there.

Sorry for the rant, but this is something I’ve seen work really well for us, and something I have seen be a waste of money and source of disappointment when not done with saturation in mind. It really does take that many to get people’s attention. (emphases mine)

-Chris Hankins, the Point Church

And another planter that seconded the motion:

I agree 100% with Chris: we, too, had an excellent response with our mailers and we did similar things as Chris already explained. We sent 25,000 mailers 4 weeks in a row to the same families in our target area. Marketing experts say people need to see something 5 times before they remember it, and read or hear something over 7 to let it sink in. [Our mailer] cost around $17,000 and it did a couple of things:

  • It peaked interest about our church
  • It brought a ton of people [to us] who would not have [otherwise] come to Vintage City
  • It showed a small picture of who we are
  • People that I meet in the community remember our mailers from a year and half ago

We designed our mailers to do a couple of things:

  • Get your attention
  • peak your curiosity
  • share who we are
  • invite you to check us out

Of course all of this was done with pictures and phrases, but it worked well.

-Crockett Davidson, Vintage City Church

My rant includes arguing that if the first time the people have heard of you is the mailer, they are not nearly as likely to act on it, even if they get all five cards. But if you’re using mailers as “air support for your ground campaign”, and people recognize your church because they’ve already seen you serving out in the community and participating in community events, then the cards can still be very effective at being the tipping point in their decision to attend your Grand Opening.

I continue to caution my planters that they have to do their homework and know their community. There probably are some communities where mailers wouldn’t work hardly at all. Just be a student of your community and pay attention especially to what realtors in your area are using to advertise themselves. Also note to what kinds of mailers you get at home to determine what kind of competition you’ll have for people’s attention in their mailboxes.

What’s your experience with mailers been?







One response to “Does Direct Mail Still Work?”

  1. I have seen different results with direct mail for churches and church plants. However, I’ll be honest, most of the results have been pretty good even with smaller one time mailers of only 5,000 cards. I had a church planter in Arizona almost double their attendance from a mailer (about 75 visitors) and I also had an older church in a rural area see new visitors by using DM to promote their Easter services.

    The best results come from at least 3 mailers to the same area within 30 days of each other.

    Also, you’re right. There has to be boots on the ground already. Churches can fully depend on print marketing to grow their churches. They have got to be active in their communities.

    Great post. Interesting insights.

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