The Readers on Direct Mail

directmailI should know better than to offer opinions on subjects I don’t know anything about. But, hey, that’s what bloggers do, right?

So it turns out the readers know far more about direct mail than I do. So following up my earlier post on the subject, the readers advise —

From David Himes:

I confess I make my living producing direct mail … mostly for fundraising purposes. But I’ve been involved in commercial and non-profit direct mail since 1973. So I have a fairly informed opinion about the use of direct mail.

In addition, I’ve been involved with evangelistic efforts which have used direct mail.

With all that said, I pretty much agree with what Jay has said about using direct mail for evangelism. But with a caveat.

One of the main reasons direct mail is not a good communications channel for evangelism efforts is that those who use it for that purpose produce very poor quality direct mail.

What most people think they know about direct mail is wrong.

Direct mail is expensive to do well. And it’s not much cheaper to do it poorly.

So unless you really know what you’re doing with direct mail, don’t do it.

For example. Most people think people won’t read long letters. And in a sense that may be true. But what is also true is that the people who don’t respond to direct mail are the people who don’t read long letters. If people are interested in what you have to say, and you say it well, people will read long letters. And the ones who read long letters are the ones most likely to respond to direct mail.

Conclusion? Write long letters, but write them really well.

The agency where I work (as COO) regularly tests 4 page letters verses 8 page letters. 8 page letters almost always work better, even though they cost a little more to produce and mail.

In addition, as Jay implies, people change their mind about issues such as faith very gradually, typically over an extended time period. And most congregations do not have the financial resources or writing skills to maintain a direct mail program for a long time.

Love others the way Jesus loves us — that will change people.

From Alan:

I want to suggest one method of direct mail that may be of benefit to some of your readers. At one church where I preached, we did a direct mail prayer campaign (and we are preparing to do the same where I currently serve). We first obtained a mailing list of all families in our community. These can be purchased from several companies. With some companies, you can even put in your church address and get a list of all homes within a 2-mile radius (or whatever other distance you want). We were a small town and there were about 7000 homes in the entire city. The cost was several hundred dollars for the list.

We then printed these names and addresses on mailing labels and gave them to everyone in the church who signed up to commit themselves to praying for 50 families every day for a month. At the end of that month, they used the mailing labels to send a personalized letter to each family they had been praying for. We did not see a large influx of visitors as a result, but we did get a good response from the community and I think gave the community a more positive impression of the church. The additional benefit was increasing the church’s awareness of the needs of the community around them.

The letter we sent:

Greetings!

As a member of the xxx Church of Christ, I want to take a moment and let you know that for the past month I have specifically and deliberately included you and all those in your household in my daily prayers. What’s more important for you to know, though, is not who prayed for you, but the fact that you and your household have been covered in prayer every day during the month of August.

I want you to know that I have specifically prayed for physical protection for you and your family, for broken relationships to be reconciled, for healing of health problems, for provision of financial needs, for reduction of stress, and for God to grant you a greater awareness of His presence in your life.

It may be that you have encountered some type of blessing or positive experience over the last six weeks and knowing life, you have probably encountered some difficulties as well. It is my hope that my prayer on your behalf has served to bless and strengthen you and all those in your household in the midst of riding the roller coaster of life.

I hope that you’ll take a moment to reflect on your experiences over the past month and consider the impact of the prayers prayed for you and your household.

Sunday, September 14th, has been designated as a “Friends and Neighbors Day” at the xxx Church of Christ. I want to personally invite you and your family to join us for one of two special worship services that day. We will have worship services at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. We also invite you to attend our Bible classes (for all ages) at 9:30 a.m.

Should you have any questions, I hope you won’t hesitate to call our church office at xxx. Or e-mail us at xxx. May God continue to bless and enrich your life!

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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