Category: Communication

3 Ways to Create an Outstanding Experience for First Time Guests

3 Ways to Create an Outstanding Experience for First Time Guests

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

New experiences can be scary. Experiencing a new church can be really scary. Guests arrive at your church with questions swirling in their mind: What will the pastor say? Will my kids have fun and be safe? Will they make me do something weird? What if I get lost?

With that in mind, here are three ways you can alleviate first-time guest fears and create an outstanding experience for your guests this Sunday.

1. Anticipate

This requires putting yourself in the position of a guest. Think about the questions that a first-time guest may have.

  • What time does the service start?
  • What should I wear?
  • Where will my kids go? Will they have fun and be safe?
  • Where are the restrooms?
  • How early should I arrive?
  • What does a typical service look like?

Reduce the anxiety by anticipating these questions, answering them and preparing to address these concerns ahead of time. Practical ways to do this would be adding an FAQ to your website or a welcome video that includes what guests can expect. Share posts on your social media channels geared toward newcomers along with photos of your services and ministries. Place service times and directions in a clear and easy to find spot on your website.

2. Prepare
If you had a guest coming over to your house for the first time, what would you do? You would prepare! You’d probably make sure everything was clean, smelled good, and might even make a snack for them.

  • Make sure your campus is clean and tidy
  • Set up a First Time Guest Kiosk or Tent
  • Form a First Impressions Team to welcome guests
  • Create printed materials and have a gift ready
  • Reserve parking spaces specifically for guests
  • Review signage to ensure it’s clear from a guest perspective

It can be easy to overlook things that are familiar to us. Ask a neighbor or someone who doesn’t regularly attend your church to act as a “Secret Shopper” and fill out a survey about their experience. It can be scary to be vulnerable and ask for this kind of honest feedback but beneficial in the long run. Train your First Impressions team on the importance of cleanliness at your campus and to always be looking for ways to improve the environment. Empower your volunteers to take action whenever they see an issue and fight the “it’s not my place” mentality.

3. Welcome
Acknowledge your guests. Make sure they know you are excited to meet them and they are welcome at your church.

  • Have your Lead Pastor welcome guests
  • Assemble trained volunteers who are ready to receive guests and show them around your campus
  • Include a welcome to guests in your announcements
  • Give guests clear next steps on how to get connected at your church
  • Tell them where they can find more information about ministries
  • Invite them to join you again next week

Share your church’s vision throughout the service and in your first-time guest materials so guests walk away with a clear idea of who your church is and how they and their families can partner with you.

What do you think? What are other ways to create an outstanding experience for your guests?

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How to Use Email Automation for Easter Follow Up

How to Use Email Automation for Easter Follow Up

Photo by Ilze Lucero on Unsplash

One of the most overlooked parts of Easter planning can be the follow-up process. It’s incredible to see new guests show up at your church after you’ve spent weeks preparing, but how do you get them to come back?

Email is still a very effective communication tool for your ministry and guest follow up. Using email automation to follow up with first-time guests can simplify your workflow and ensure you connect with guests in a timely way. I would recommend using MailChimp because it’s simple to use and pretty inexpensive, but many email services offer automation.

Here’s a way to use email automation at your church this Easter.
Schedule a series of emails to send in the 30 days following Easter Sunday to guests who turn in a connection card. Recruit a staff member or volunteer to enter their information so you can send the initial email 24-48 hours after your Easter Sunday service.

Email #1 – Thank you and a free resource
This first email should come from a pastor saying thanks for celebrating Easter with you and offering a free resource to help them grow in their relationship with Jesus. This could be an original song from your worship team, a devotional resource, or a prayer guide.

Remember to tell your guests that when they fill out a connection card they will receive a free resource so they know to look for it in their inbox.

Email #2 – Invitation to come back
Aim to be as strategic with your post-Easter planning as you are with your pre-Easter planning. Plan to start a compelling and practical sermon series that would draw in someone who wouldn’t typically attend church the week after Easter. In your second email, invite them back for the series and emphasize why the series will benefit them and what they will get out of it. Include your service times and a link back to your website for more details.

Email #3 – Ask for feedback
The best way to improve your first-time guest experience is by capturing honest feedback. Using a tool like SurveyMonkey, create a brief survey to find out about your guests’ overall experience. The survey should include questions about what they noticed first, liked best, what could be improved, and how your staff can pray for them.

Email #4 – Meet the pastor
Many churches host a class or an opportunity to meet the pastor for new guests. Send a note with an overview and invitation to attend the next class. Include the important details like when, where, and how to register (if necessary), and if childcare is offered.

Email #5 – Get Connected
The final email should highlight ways to connect with other people through ministries like small groups. Include information about pastoral care and which staff members to contact if they have questions about getting to know Jesus or just want to speak with someone.

In all of the emails, make sure the voice of the email matches that of the sender and keep it personal. Set up the email to send directly from a personal address and encourage recipients to reply directly if they have any questions.

Ready to get started? Here are a few additional resources on email automation.

How Email Automation Can Improve Ministry Communication
Leveraging Email to Follow Up with First Time Guests
Step By Step Guide from MailChimp for Creating Automation

3 Lessons for the Church from Chick-fil-A

3 Lessons for the Church from Chick-fil-A

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Have you ever noticed how there is always a line of cars wrapped around the Chick-fil-A drive-thru? It seems no matter the location or time of day, Chick-fil-A is always bustling with people eager for a chicken sandwich and waffle fries. Clearly, I’m not the only one who’s a fan. But I like Chick-fil-A for more than their tasty chicken. I believe many churches can benefit from taking a closer look at how Chick-fil-A has built a culture that communicates what they value.

Here are three lessons that any church can learn from Chick-fil-A.

1. Know What You Are About

The ‘Eat More Chicken’ tagline is effective because it’s simple, memorable and clearly says what Chick-fil-A is all about. They have always been about chicken and always will be about chicken, and they would like for you to eat more of their chicken. This idea is represented in every aspect of their marketing and advertising. While they might add new treats to the menu, they never deviate from who they are and what they do best.

Question for churches:

  • Is your mission statement simple and memorable?
  • Does your community know what you’re all about?
  • Is your mission clear in every part of your church?

2. Make Decisions that Reinforce Your Values

When other fast food restaurants are open 24/7, Chick-fil-A made the intentional choice to close on Sundays to allow employees time for rest, worship, and to be with their families. But they still generate more revenue than other chains open seven days a week with more locations.

In addition to a culture that values their employees, they also communicate their value of exceptional customer service with another simple yet memorable phrase: “My pleasure.” This oft-repeated response has been ingrained in their employee culture to the extent that consumers know to expect it.

With intentional words and actions, they communicate their family-friendly culture and a high regard for customer service.

Question for churches:

  • What words and phrases are uniquely part of your culture?
  • Are decisions based on what your church values?

3. Care for Your Guests

Personal story: I was in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru about to pay and could not find my credit card although it been in my hand moments before. I frantically dug through my purse but it was nowhere to be found. And, like any self-respecting millennial, I had no cash. I apologized profusely to the cashier and told him I would park until I could find it and pay.

His response? “No problem. It’s on us.”

Talk about valuing your customer. It was an awesome gesture and made me feel like they cared about providing a great experience for me, rather than wanting something from me. They will receive more of my business through that move than any marketing ever could. And I told people about it! (Side note: I eventually found the card in the dark vortex that is the gap between the seat and the cup holder.)

Question for churches:

  • How can you give your guests an experience where they feel so cared for that they would share that story with a friend?

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not paid for the endorsement of any product or company on my blog. I am just a satisfied customer who wants to share my experience.

The Weekly Communications Checklist [Free Download]

The Weekly Communications Checklist [Free Download]

Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

A simple weekly checklist can be a very effective tool, especially if your church is beginning to prioritize and improve communications. It gives you an outline to stay on track and organized throughout the week.

Here’s a free example to download. Weekly Communications Checklist

You can work from a simple Google document or put the checklist into a task management tool like Asana. I have an Asana project titled “Weekly” which includes recurring weekly communication tasks and any tasks to be completed by the week’s end. More complex projects, like sermon series or marketing campaigns, can be organized into their own projects.

 

How do you stay organized throughout the week?

 

Disclaimer: I am not paid for the endorsement of any product shared on my blog. I am just a satisfied user who wants to share my experiences with great products. 

3 Ways to Use Asana for Church Communication

3 Ways to Use Asana for Church Communication

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

I love organizational tools. Naturally, I look for ways to stay organized online. Enter Asana. It’s a collaborative project management tool that I’ve found really useful.

Here are three ways you can use it for your church communications:

Big Days

For big Sundays like Easter and Christmas, I’ll create a new project outlining all tasks including marketing, internal communication, service planning and design. I use the subheadings to segment the project into major “buckets” and assign tasks to team members along with the due date. It also allows you to add comments, links to documents, and screenshots to specific tasks. This keeps everything related to the day organized and in one central location.

 

 

Weekly Tasks

I have a project labeled “weekly” for recurring weekly tasks (mind-blowing, I know) and any additional tasks that might come up. It’s a simple way to ensure nothing falls behind and provides structure to my week.

 

Meetings

I like to use an Asana template to take notes in meetings with teammates and volunteers. It covers standing topics, the weekly agenda, and items to follow up with at future meetings. It’s a useful way to share meeting information with your team and keep everyone on the same page. Plus, action items that come from the meeting can be added in and assigned to the person responsible.

 

So there you have it. Three easy ways to get started in Asana. What about you? What project management tools do you use?

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not paid for the endorsement of any product on my blog. I am just a satisfied user who wants to share my experience with great products. 

Why We Got Rid of the Monthly Bulletin

Why We Got Rid of the Monthly Bulletin

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

One of my most popular and asked about blog posts has been why we switched to a monthly bulletin. But it’s been a while since that original post, so I thought I’d share an update on how it worked and why we ultimately got rid of it.

Let’s start with the pros. The monthly bulletin was a great avenue to give a high-level view of what was happening at our church and share stories of life change. It almost read more like a magazine than a bulletin. It did save on our printing costs and reduced time spent preparing a weekly bulletin.

But, even with these benefits, we found the lack of flexibility to change information challenging. It improved our communications planning but, like many churches, last minute changes or events added throughout the month meant we weren’t always producing the most accurate information. Also, our church was going through major changes in our location, staffing, etc. and we needed an additional avenue to get out information quickly on Sunday mornings.

So after a year of the monthly, we switched back to a weekly. But we wanted a format that would still allow us the benefits of the monthly: reduced printing costs and minimal production time each week.

The solution was a bulletin shell designed around the sermon series that focused on first-time guests and included a simple black and white insert with the weekly news and events. This gave the visual appeal of the sermon series design but minimal weekly production to create the promotional insert.  The insert was printed in-house each week to keep printing costs low. We could add weekly changes easily in the insert but keep up the overall quality with a series shell. And, bonus points, we could reuse the left-over shells as long as they were not damaged.

Here’s an example

Here are three takeaways from the monthly bulletin:

1. It’s good to try something new in your church communications! Creating a monthly piece ultimately allowed us to produce a better weekly bulletin because we learned the pros and cons of each.

2. Allow ample time to see how a new channel of communication works. Be patient when you introduce something new. We used the monthly bulletin for a year to get a true sense of the benefits, costs, and results.

3. There’s no magic answer to bulletins. You won’t solve every church communication challenge with one bulletin format over another, so it’s okay to make a change…and change back again!

 

4 Ways to Use Push Notifications

4 Ways to Use Push Notifications

There’s a lot of debate happening around church apps right now. Critics say that a well-designed, mobile-friendly website eliminates the need for a separate app. And there are certainly valid reasons why churches shouldn’t launch an app, like additional the cost and maintenance.

However, one reason I love having an app for our church is the ability to send push notifications. These quick little messages allow us to communicate and stay in front of our church throughout the week.

Here are four ways to use push notifications in your app.

1. Inclement Weather Closings
This is especially important in my state of North Carolina where Southerners (like myself) tend to launch into a mild panic at the first flake. With a push notification, we can quickly let our church know if services and ministries will be held or cancelled.

2. Sunday sermons
Recently, we started sending out a notification when our Sunday sermons are ready to view. This is typically on Monday or Tuesday. With fewer people attending church every Sunday, it’s a helpful reminder and way for people to stay engaged with the teaching series.

3. Online Bulletin
Every week we create a quick online bulletin post that is linked directly in our app. Sending a push notification on Sunday morning with a link to the bulletin acts the same as if we were to pass out a physical bulletin as people come through the door.

4. Big Day Reminders
Have a baptism service coming up? Need to remind folks to reserve tickets for Christmas Eve? A push notification is a fast and easy way to send reminders for the big days happening at your church.

What do you think? How do you use push notifications for your church?