How to Attract and Keep “Chreasters” This Year!
8 Ways to Attract and Keep Your Share of Easter Visitors.
What’s a Chreaster, you ask?
The Dictionary of Christianese defines it this way:
Folks who show up to the church only about twice a year… on Christmas and Easter. Christmas + Easter = Chreaster!
The word may be strange, but there’s a good reason to pay attention to these folks. According to LifeWay Research, Americans are more open to matters of faith during the Easter and Christmas season. In a 2008 survey, 47 percent of those polled confirmed that they were more open to faith during the holidays.
Compare that to other important moments: After a national crisis such as 9/11, only 38 percent indicated more open to spiritual things; after a natural disaster, 34 percent; and the birth of a child made only 28 percent more open to matters of faith?
The lesson? There’s no better time than the holidays to reach people with the gospel!
So, considering that nearly half the people in your community are unusually more receptive at Christmas and Easter, it should be easy to fill the church—right?
The odds are in your favor, but you’ve got to craft a message that will speak to their hearts—and pray that the Holy Spirit does the rest of the work.
The M Word, Of course, you probably have other churches in your area competing for the same people. And make no mistake, those other local churches will be “marketing” their Easter services! You may be tempted to stop reading since I mentioned the word marketing, but don’t tune me out yet! The truth is that if you want to attract your share of the local unchurched population, you’ll need to do several specific things:
1. Capture their attention
2. Engage them on their level
3. Educate them about your church
4. Tell them what you want them to do (call to action)
You may notice that all the above actions are quite biblical. They also happen to be the basic components of effective marketing. (For more information on that, read my e-magazine, Marketing like God.)
What Is the Most Effective Easter Marketing? You don’t need elaborate stage shows and multimedia presentations. Such shows may provide a temporary attraction for Chreasters, but won’t give them much reason to return the following Sunday. And your goal isn’t just to bring them in for one Sunday service—it’s to keep them, and begin nurturing them in the faith. That may be easier than you think.
Here are eight effective ways to attract and keep those unchurched folks who may be tempted to sit at home this Easter Sunday.
1. Make them aware of your Church. Contrary to what you may think, not everyone knows you exist. This is where you must use the first component of effective marketing: capturing their attention. You must cut through the clutter and endless marketing “noise”. Thankfully, you have a lot of options: social media, radio, TV, billboards, and good old-fashioned direct mail. Let’s examine each.
Social Media is great, and we recommend it, but the initial marketing is usually limited to about 120 words, with a very small graphic, if any. We recommend a daily presence to keep it fresh as the ad turnover is usually measured in seconds.
Radio, TV, and billboards are very broad and far too expensive for most churches.
Direct mail, on the other hand, allows you to target exactly the people you want, take advantage of special nonprofit postage rates, and put all the effective components of marketing in one package. You can combine an attention-grabbing graphic, an engaging message series, some information about your church, and a personal invitation from the pastor.
People do respond to mail sent, especially to them. Consider your typical reaction to the other forms of marketing we’ve mentioned; then watch the way you respond to the pieces in your mailbox today.
Recent surveys prove consumers trust the advertisers using the U.S. Mail more than any other form of marketing. However, there are some key fundamentals you need to follow to ensure maximum effecivness for your Easter direct mail marketing campaigns.
2. Make It Convenient. This is simple, yet many churches miss it. Don’t schedule services when people are bound to be busy. Offer some alternative times. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box! At worst, you’ll have some empty chairs. But that risk is small compared with the potential for reaching new people. Think about offering an Easter Egg hunt. Most families with children will be looking for a church that offers one.
3. Start early. My children rarely respond to what I ask them to do the first time. It may take four, five, or even more messages before they get it. Think about these Chreasters the same way. Giving one sermon a year in which you invite them to open their hearts to God may not be realistic. Instead, start a message series four or five weeks out before the big day. Design a life-applicable series that will speak to their hearts and draw them back week after week. Make sure it offers enough tangible benefit to compel them to come—again and again. (By the way, we have some great Easter message series designed to do just that. Check them out here: http://www.truthadvertising.org/easter_samples.php) Marketing early with a message series also gets your advertisement in front of people first—which could be advantageous if there are many other churches in your area.
4. Invite them to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. “Ask for the close!” That’s what I used to tell my secular sales staff over and over. Why? Because studies show that 95 percent of salespeople never get around to doing it! Instead, they wait and wait, ignoring clear signs that the client is ready to purchase. Often, they end up talking themselves out of the sale.
We know that the offer of salvation is not like selling a product, but the analogy is useful. Remember, there will almost certainly be people in your congregation at Easter who are ready to commit their lives to Christ. The Holy Spirit will have been speaking to them throughout the service, and it’s simply up to you to invite them. If you don’t, they may go home as empty as they came.
5. Get their personal information:. Do you have visitor cards ready to hand out? If not—get some by next week! Every church should have simple connection cards that allow guests to provide their contact information, along with space to list their prayer needs. You can also mention groups they may be interested in, and ask how they found out about you, But make sure you have a card to get their basics—and a section for prayer.
6. Give them a gift. Don’t ask your first-time guests for anything. Instead, give them something. Your ushers can pass these welcome gifts to visitors as they collect the visitor cards. This not only gives you an accurate count of your guests, but shows them that you care about welcoming them. When we come to Christ, He doesn’t ask for anything more than our hearts. Make sure your guests know that you’re interested in them because you love them—not for what you can get out of them. When someone receives a gift, it’s human nature to reciprocate. Your guests may choose to give back—by returning next Sunday. There are numerous Christian mini-books that you can purchase relatively inexpensively, and offer as gifts to your first-time guests.
7. Follow Up. My very first sales job was selling aluminum siding in Florida many, many years ago. My boss told me something that stuck with me for 30 years: “If you just return people’s phone calls, you’ll be more successful than the next guy.” He knew something that other salespeople miss: Most people never follow up. That’s as true in the church as in the world of sales. Design a system where everyone who fills out a new visitor card gets a phone call, an email, and an invitation to attend the following Sunday, or a coffee cup on their porch. Whatever you settle on, implement it and stick with it. People will appreciate it.
8. Give them a reason to come back. There is an old saying in show business: “Always leave them wanting more.” Give your Chreasters and other first-time guests a reason to come back. A great way to do this is through a message or sermon series. Before dismissing your congregation, always announce what you’ll be speaking on the following Sunday. Make sure it carries clear benefits for them—and state those benefits clearly.
Start Planning NOW and plan meticulously, and execute your plan with excellence. Do this by knowing your guests, getting creative, and advertising your event. Through even the simplest actions, like greeting and giving them gifts, show them that you’re offering what they are searching for. You have a captive audience. Seize the opportunity to do something great in the life of your community. If you choose to advertise your Easter service, do it with excellence.
Don’t trust your advertising for this special day to just anyone. Call one of our church consultants today at 1-844 TRUTHAD. We will build a postcard mailing program for you that is as unique as your church. You will work with an experienced church marketing consultant every step of the way. We will design a custom program, especially for your church, managing every detail to ensure maximum effectiveness. We have hundreds of Easter sample postcard marketing ideas online, AND MORE BEING POSTED EVERYDAY.