Written by: Adam McLaughlin, AdamMcLaughlin.net
Consistency builds trust.
Your first-time guest follow-up process is a great opportunity to continue to build trust while conveying a consistent message. However, before you can build trust effectively, you have to be sure these 3 key ingredients are working together in your church: Branding, Marketing & Advertising.
Branding represents your core values; these are what you want to be known for. Your core values help you prioritize and make decisions. They are the foundation of who you are as a church as you live out your unique assignment from God. If you’re not sure what your core values are, this is an important discussion to have as soon as possible.
Marketing is creating an experience for someone to recognize your core values. For example, let’s consider what marketing might look like if one of your core values is being welcoming. You could have someone open the door as people come in, welcoming people and pointing guests toward your information center. At the information center, the person working there could help a new family find their kids' classes and invite them to sit with them during service.
If one of your core values is missions, you could have posters showing the missions you support and the work they’re doing, a highlight video in each service talking about what different missionaries are accomplishing, a paragraph in the bulletin that says what’s launching next month, or have a spot on your tithing envelopes specifically for giving to missions.
Marketing is the primary way that people will experience your branding and what they’ll talk about when they walk away. “I loved how welcomed we felt; they are really focused on reaching people.”
Advertising is letting someone know what to expect from your marketing. If we used the examples above, you could advertise that you’re, “The friendliest church in town” or “We welcome everyone” or “We’re saving a seat for you!” For the missions example, you could say, “Let’s impact the world together” or “We served 5,000 homeless people last month” or ” We just gave out our 10,000th bible!”
(For a more in-depth look at Branding, Marketing and Advertising, check out my free ebook – TrustGlue: 11 ways to create a first impression that sticks)
5 Ways to Build Trust With Your Church Guest Follow-up Process
Now that someone has visited your church because of your effective advertising, experienced your genuine marketing and recognizes your branding, you can now create a comprehensive follow-up strategy for that person through email and text. Since consistency builds trust, here are 5 ideas to continue to consistently build trust with your follow-up process:
1. Don’t Focus on Advertising
It’s easy to think “Hey, now that we have a system to send information, we’re going to send lots and lots of information so that people know EVERYTHING going on this week!”
Your follow up process is not about trying to get that visitor to every event in the next few days; it’s about building a relationship between them and your church. Help them discover who you are as a church and allow this follow up tool to communicate that in an authentic way. (If you’re interested in follow-up scripts and timing, they are here!)
2. Remind Guests What They Experienced (Your Marketing)
In our follow-up process, we say “Thank you for choosing to worship at Life Church. We’re happy that you had the opportunity to Encounter God with us.” Our primary core value is the Presence of God, and so we emphasize that in our follow-up. We then offer a link to the on-demand video page of our website (or you can use your YouTube channel or vimeo, etc.) where people can watch services again, search for previous services, etc.
3. Ask For a Response That Leads into a Core Value
Another one of our core values is loving relationships. Within the first week after someone’s visit, we have an email sent out that is from our Care Pastor’s email address that says something like, “Thanks for visiting Life Church this weekend. Would you be available for coffee this week?” This is not a marketing reminder, but actually an element of our marketing – an invitation to build relationships and experience our core values.
Sometimes the response is, “Are you available this afternoon” and other times the response is “Maybe next week.” Either way, it opens the door for additional conversation.
This step is not possible unless you are collecting first-time guests’ contact information somehow. Don’t miss that critical piece!
4. Remind Guests WHY it Would be Valuable for Them to Come Back
When we make a decision, we’re often internally asking “Why?” As such, so is the recipient on the other end of your communication. If you make an event your “why,” then you need to keep having events to keep answering the “why” question for people. However, if you make the services and events about your core values, they’ll always understand the “why” behind your actions.
In our case, we answer “why” with this advertising: “We have both a 9am & 11:15am service to fit your schedule. See you this weekend as we’re experiencing God together.”
5. Let Guests Know How Your Core Values Could Impact Someone They Know
This “someone” could be family, friends, neighbor or a co-worker. You could say, “Every Wednesday, our youth encounter the presence of God just like we do on Sundays. Know someone who would like to join us? Send them this link for more information: …….. ”
We have a text that goes out on Wednesdays that says, “Most people make their weekend plans on Wednesday or Thursday. Today is a great day to invite someone to encounter God this weekend at Life Church.”
So, remember, you have to build trust with guests. A great way to do that is to consistently articulate your brand, marketing, and advertising. From there, you can implement the 5 follow up steps that will foster a connection with first-time guests. Again, those steps are:
1. Don’t Focus on Advertising
2. Remind Guests What They Experienced
3. Ask for a Response
4. Remind Guests Why It Matters That They Come Back
5. Let Guests Know How Your Values Can Impact Someone They Know
I would love to hear more about how you’ve found effective ways to live out your core values with these follow-up tools. Leave a comment below!