What every church needs to know about reaching out….
Finding new parishioners becomes increasingly more difficult in today’s highly competitive market. But Churches, like any other businesses, have no choice but to prospect. Without replacing those members lost by attrition, church membership, attendance and donations will drop severely.
The spiraling costs of advertising have made it cost prohibitive for newspaper ads and inserts. Churches must conserve valuable dollars and spend their efforts reaching out only to those prospects with the most likelihood of joining their congregation, attending school or camp or contributing to the organization.
In today’s tough economy, it’s more important than ever before to fine tune marketing outreach. That’s why churches rely so heavily on Dataman Group to help them with their targeting. This is key to reaching out to the Church’s key market segments in a cost-effective manner.
KEY MARKET GROUPS
- Newcomers – New Homeowners / New Movers
- Parents of New Babies
- Families with Children
- Ethnic or Religious Surname Groups
here are new families moving into your market each month. This are your most important prospect group! Often, they have moved from another state or county. They are looking for information about local establishments, whether it be a dentist, school or church. It’s up to you to contact the newcomers as soon as they move into your market. Every Church must have a Welcome Program that addresses this special group, so newcomers can be contacted, invited to the Church and followed up in an organized, continuous fashion. Subscriptions to the Dataman Group New Homeowner or New Mover service allow Churches to keep up with area newcomers in a continuous, organized way.
The birth of a child offers the Church unique outreach opportunities. This is your chance to congratulate the new parents, provide an appropriate baby gift (consider a bib with the church name on it), and lay the groundwork for participation in the Church’s early childhood or camping programs. The birth of a child is an occasion that encourages self-examination and this is a perfect time for the Church to reach out! Dataman Group offers monthly New Parent lists that can be used for either direct mail or telephone outreach.
Churches can select Families with Children by the age or age range of the children in the home. It is important to look at programming, camp and religious school options and hone in on those families which will need those services. If a Church’s core profit center is pre-school and camp, then target families with children under 10 and mail to them several times a year for each enrollment session.
ETHNIC OR RELIGIOUS SURNAME GROUPS
These overlays which can help marketers hone in on certain religious or ethnic market segments. Buddhist organizations may want to target Asian households; Catholic churches may want to appeal to households with Italian surnames.
Age, income, presence of children are available selects on this file.
Sometimes Churches just “want to get the word out”, perhaps to let area residents know about a Holiday Service, bazaar or community service program. In this case, the most cost-effective way to go would be to utilize an Occupant/Resident list. These lists do not have the recipient’s name on it, rather they say Occupant or Resident and reach every mailbox in a given area, regardless of who lives there.
Regardless of which of these market segments is selected, a Church must have a vehicle for reaching out to these groups.
CREATE A WELCOME PROGRAM
A growing Church must place a priority on reaching new people. The Church must cultivate a warm, friendly relationship with people and the time to do this as soon as they move into the area.
A standing Welcome Committee needs to be established that follows up on area newcomers with a combination of direct mail and telephone outreach.
Envelope & stationary should be pre-printed with Church name, address, phone # and, if available, website location. The letterhead should contain an appropriate welcome line which should also appear on the envelope. Many readers will judge the Church by the quality of paper and appearance of this letter. This is your first introduction to your prospect, make sure you are putting your best foot forward! The letter should be signed by the chairperson of the Welcome Committee as well as the appropriate member of the clergy. Enclose a brochure or literature sharing the purpose, program, events and outreach of the Church. Be deadline sensitive. If registration for Early Childhood programs are coming up, make sure the newcomers know about it. If you are mailing before Easter, consider enclosing the Easter Service schedule. If the Church has a newsletter, make sure that newcomers receive at least four issues. If a follow-up telephone call is planned, be sure to inform the reader that a Church volunteer will be calling in a few days.
The Direct Mail level of contact is a one-way communication method. Direct mail does not provide any feedback, but has a 90-95% guarantee for reaching your prospects with foundational information.
TELEPHONE OUTREACH – VERY VIABLE FOR A CHURCH
Even with the recent Do Not Call legislation, telephone outreach remains the Church’s single best tool for reaching out to new prospects. Telephone contact enables the Church to share a greeting from it’s lay volunteers, identify the prospect’s background and affiliation, seeks to clarify information communicated in the letter, answer questions and seeks to qualify the interest in the Church for further contact. A warm, friendly call from the local Church will do wonders to help the newcomer feel welcomed in their new neighborhood!
Volunteers on the Welcome Committee are the best group to make the calls. By dividing up the list between committee members, no-one should be overburdened. Allow the committee 2 weeks to complete their calls from their monthly Newcomer List. The caller will seek to talk to an adult member of the household and introduce his/herself. The Committee, along with staff, should prepare a script to be used by the caller. A training session should be held for all involved. Invite the prospect to visit the Church and take a tour of the facility. Set up an appointment to meet the clergy. Consider offering a welcome gift as an incentive.
CHURCHES & THE FEDERAL DO NOT CALL LIST
As a non-profit organization, Churches are exempt from the recently enacted Telemarketing Sales Rules. However, each Church needs to make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to contact those households on the Federal Do Not Call registry. Generally, calls from a local Church will be warmly accepted, however there are many people who are adamant about not receiving calls. The law does require that all telephone marketers register with the Federal Trade Commission. Churches should register for an exempt Subscription Account
PERSONAL HOME VISITS
This level of involvement builds on both the direct mail and telephone survey. Personal home contact affords the most visible results and should be seriously considered. Community captains may be assigned to make a brief get-acquainted visit. A welcome gift should be brought to the newcomer, whether it be a cake, tickets to an upcoming concert or a welcome gift purchased specifically for that purpose.
This is your opportunity to extend the hand of friendship in your community!
Don’t discount the power of Facebook, Twitter, DIGG and Linked In. These are wonderful ways for your Church to reach out to new congregants, especially in the younger age ranges. Electronic marketing is a wonderful way to keep in touch – not a great prospecting mechanism, but a wonderful retention tool!
RULES OF THUMB…CHURCHES ARE NO DIFFERENT
- You need to contact your prospects more than once for them to remember you! Change your offer so they don’t get bored, but stay in touch with your prime prospects!
- The more you know about your prospects the better. Target your marketing technique and offer to the specific group you’re looking to reach. Seniors respond best to well-written direct mail letters. Younger singles respond best to e-mail. Families with new babies response best to offers made with baby gifts.
- Cross sell within our own membership. Often early childhood parents may have interests in cultural arts.
- Never assume that your members are aware of registration deadlines or that they know what time services are held.
- Be sure to drop off information about your Church at the local Chamber of Commerce, library and with local realtors.
- The combination of direct mail, followed up by a telephone call by a Welcome Committee member will be your most responsive marketing technique.
At Dataman Group, we pride ourselves on working closely with Churches across the country to help provide them with the right lists for their needs. We understand that marketing is not the main focus of your business. It’s our job to make this easy and cost-effective so your Church can go on to do the important work it does in the community.
If you call our office at (800) 771-3282, one of us will be happy to provide you with counts for any of the prospect groups in your market. Or, feel free to e-mail us for additional information!