I’ve recently been reading some Evangelical books on church growth. While I’ve been truly amazed at the variety and hope to post a review once I get through the 17 books I’ve selected as most interesting, I did want to address one point that seems to be quite common among the Evangelical movement: Direct Mail Advertising.
Our church has done some web advertising and some radio and television ads, and from what I understand, does pretty well in these areas, so the idea of marketing our faith should not be foreign to us. We want people to come unto Jesus and advertising is an effective method of asking and aids our missionary efforts.
Evangelicals also have this desire and have employed direct mail as a means of accomplishing this, often with astounding results. The Bay Area Fellowship of Corpus Christi, Texas has grown their congregation from 7 to 4000 in 7 years in part through direct mail advertising.
Since the church is divided by geographic boundaries, it would be pretty easy for the church to do a direct mail campaign at the ward, stake, mission or national level, as a supplement to its other efforts. InfoUSA provides a postcard direct mail piece for about $.06 per lead for lists less than 100,000 and $.05 per lead for lists over 100,000. Assuming this, it would cost my local ward about $2,300 to direct mail the 3 zip codes we reach (38k residencies), and would cost my mission about $34,000 to reach our local area (674k residencies).
The worst case response rate for direct mail is .02% (2 out of 10,000) and the typical best case response rate is 2.61%. This means for my local ward I would have the possibility of catching the interest of between 8 and 984 households, and for the mission we’d have the possibility of catching the interest of between 135 and 17,573 households. Assuming the national average of 3.2 people per household, that is 500 to 60,000 people at the mission level.
Now not all interested people will come to church, and even less will be baptized. If we assume 5% of those who respond to the direct mail campaign go on to be baptized, the worst case scenario is that we’d get one convert for our $2,300 direct mail investment. (8 households = 24 people * 5% = 1 person) but our best case scenario is we just added 158 members to our ward. At the mission level, this equates to somewhere between 22 and 2,800 retained converts.
So from a direct mail perspective, the worth of a soul is between $12 and $2300 dollars.