Adventures in Grand Openings: Part Two

Adventures in Grand Openings: Part Two

June 7, 2010 by

In part one of this interview, we spoke with Brian Kaufman of Mission Community Church about their plan to launch a new campus. Brian let us know about their thought and strategy, and he joined us again to talk about their results.

Thanks so much for joining us again, Brian. So I think the easiest place to start, and the question we all have: Numerically, how did things look on grand opening Sunday?

Brian Kaufman: We had about 3,500 adults in services for grand opening which is about a 190% increase from a month prior and just over a 200% increase from a year prior.

That’s great to hear. What methods did you guys find to be the most successful in getting people to attend? Any surprises on this front?

Brian: We found that friends/family inviting was by far the most effective approach to new attenders. 73% of the newcomers we spoke with got connected this way. Additionally, by leveraging social media, writing consistent blog posts and making our microsite YouTube videos and content easier to share we saw an increase in Facebook activity and other social media networks. That said, our web analytics were not necessarily a good predictor of attendance during Grand Opening.

So web analytics were a little misleading. But were there any big disappointments? Or some methods you expected to give a lot more success?

Brian: I was surprised that the TV commercial and mailer did not have more of an impact considering the distribution and investment. The two combined hit over 200,000 households, but they only accounted for 5% of newcomers. I’m personally not a fan of mailers and don’t believe they work considering the investment but leaders in the church insisted we try them because we didn’t have any data to support how effective or ineffective they were.

That’s really great that you guys now have the data to make better decisions. Knowing this new data and your experiences, if you were opening again in a month, is there anything you would do differently?

Brian: I would’ve taken a lot of our marketing budget out of the mailer and cable commercial. Instead I would refocus it on local channel programming rather than cable programming, invest in a few different Facebook ads, put more emphasis on public relations and end up saving a bit of that budget.

Great insights. And one last question. For everyone out there reading this who is or might one day be in your shoes, what advice would you share?

Brian: Put inviting tools in your people’s hands and make the invite memorable through simple use of language with a positive approach. Make the invite easy for your church to wrap their head around. In our case it was simple—when you show up someone else gets 5 years of clean, safe drinking water.

Consider your audience and take a long hard look at your available budget before you consider blanketing the city with a mailer. I think there are better and more focused methods you can use your budget for, such as targeted Facebook ads, personal invite materials, hiring a PR firm to spend 20 hours on pushing the event out to local news agencies or designing a large banner to put in front of your church with grand opening times. Oh, and your website, make sure the information is obvious and in front of people on your site or other touch points where both Christians and non-Christians will notice it.

Also, be sure you’ve got plenty of parking volunteers, guest services folks and a centrally located guest services kiosk. Help make the entire experience for first-timers as easy as you can. If it’s a big headache for a newcomer or they don’t feel you care about them they may not be back.

Finally, have some method to capture newcomer info and follow up with them the following week. A simple phone call to say, “Hey, we noticed you were here, thanks for checking us out, did you have any questions or interest in registering for our ‘meet the staff’ event?” goes a long way.

Don’t over-think the event. Don’t put the weight of its success on your shoulders. Don’t try to do a little of everything because you’ve seen other churches do that and they look like they are growing (so it must work). Stay focused, stay simple and be confident in the marketing decisions you make. At the end of the day if you are in a community that is growing and you are engaging with your audience your church will also continue to grow whether you spend $10 or $10,000 on your grand opening budget.

Thanks so much Brian, this material is going to be truly invaluable to a lot of people. We can’t wait to keep our eye on what you guys do in the future.

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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3 Responses to “Adventures in Grand Openings: Part Two”

  • Paul Hickernell
    June 8, 2010

    Encouraged to see some of the best “marketing” techniques still involve and call for personal engagement. Invest and Invite. Hope the new campus continues well.

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  • Kelli Munn
    June 14, 2010

    I’m thrilled to see the plug for PR in the post. As someone who’s been on both sides (reporter and practitioner) of media relations, I can tell you this would have been appealing to local media I’ve worked with and for. From a marketing measurement standpoint I understand why the mailer was disappointing. From a PR measurement standpoint you reached many people with a unique message and positive impression about the church that, with continued exposure, may net results. Unfortunately, the value of impressions is more difficult to measure, which is why PR is such a tough sell to the church — vicious cycle.

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  • Jeff Burris
    July 12, 2010

    I am a fan of direct mail and have made several assumptions below that may or may not hold water, but I thought that they might be helpful.

    From reading the interview, it sounds like 75% of visitors came from personal invite and 20% from social media and 5% from tv and direct mail. If the mailing cost $13k to produce and they had 1600 visitors total, 5% would be 80 visitors and if the 75k piece mailing accounted for only 25% of 80 then you have 20 visitors from the mailing. If half of the 20, 10 were to stay at Mission and the per capita income in Gilbert is $30k you would have new attenders with an annual income of $300k. If those ten people were only to tithe 2% you would have an increase in annual giving of $6k a year. That would mean that the cost of the direct mailing would pay for itself in 2 years. This considers only those who showed up that sunday and does not take into consideration how many came the next sunday or came primarily because of personal invite or social media (95% of visitors) who were also influenced by the direct mail that they received the week before that complimented the personal invite and social media.

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