A Follow Up Plan That Works

by David Reneau/ November 4, 2019

If you’re like me when I first started out in ministry, I didn’t think about follow up.  All I focused on was doing a great event or service, and then move on to the next. 

But just like following through when you swing a bat is key, follow up is as well.  It doesn’t feel necessary but is essential to pulling off a great event. 

Here are 7 steps to a great follow up plan for any event.

  1. Postcard. No one gets mail they want anymore, and kids even less.The other day, my overly dramatic four-year-old was in a puddle, crying, because he never gets any packages in the mail.


    Whether you have professional postcards printed or do them in house, it’s well worth capturing the guest’s contact information and sending them a postcard thanking them for coming. 


    I’ve found that it’s most effective when you send the postcard to each individual child in the household as opposed to the whole family because then it’s more individualized and the kids don’t have to share. 


    Let’s be honest, most kids don’t want to share anyway.


  2. Give a prize. On the postcard, have a promise of some kind of prize for bringing it back.I have $1 boxes of candy I picked up at Wal-Mart and give those to any kid who brings back the postcard I sent them.You can’t beat the excitement on a kid’s face when they show up with that postcard ready to claim their prize.


  3. Follow up again. When you give them the prize, don’t leave it at that.


    I have another card that we give the kids when they turn in their postcard that invites them to come back.  Also, I have an even bigger prize to give them that I show them if they bring this card back. 


    Studies have shown that if you can get a customer to come back 3 times in a short amount of time, they are far more likely, something like 80%, to come back again and again because it’s part of their routine. 


  4. Add a personal touch. I don’t do this for every visitor follow up card, but for VBS and for birthdays, I have their small group leader write a personal note on each kid’s card.


    Some of the notes are generic like, “Thanks for coming!” while others are lengthy letters of encouragement.  I let the leader decide how much to write and thank them for their work. 


    This usually takes a little more work on my part to have everything ready before VBS is over, but I think it’s so much more meaningful and heartfelt than the generic form letter of a printed postcard. The parents do too.


  5. Don’t forget the parents. The tips so far have been all for kids, but you can’t forget the parents.


    After all, if you’re in kids, the parents are the kids ride.


    I intentionally don’t follow up with parents a lot because the main house is following up with them in their own process. 


    However, I do make sure the parents make it into the church follow up system.  Many times, a parent won’t fill out a visitor card, but they’ll give you just about every bit of information about them to check-in their kids.  Don’t horde this information, share it.


  6. Send parents an email. If the parent gives me their email, I send them one thanking them for coming and ask if I can email them more consistently.A week later, I send them another email introducing them to my weekly emails and sell the value of reading it every week.


    I give them another chance to opt out, and if they don’t (they rarely do) I add them to my weekly mailing list communicating what we talked about over the weekend, upcoming events, free resources, and a blog post about parenting.  Mailchimp is fabulous.


  7. Continue emailing consistently. The plan above applies mainly to parents who attend on a weekend.


However, many kids to come to an outreach event such as VBS don’t attend on a Sunday. This makes the weekend information irrelevant to them. 


Nevertheless, reaching out to parents consistently is essential to keeping the contact fresh and your email not getting pushed to spam.


To do this, I create another email list for children’s events.  Every time I have an event coming up or have a new series, I drop an email to these parents.  This keeps them connected to the church even if they’re not attending and your email out of spam.

A note about mass emails.  It’s super easy to get spammy and become annoying to parents.  Be sure to always give parents the opportunity to opt out and use a tool like Mailchimp to manage your list and target your emails. 

The more targeted they are, the less frustration and better results you’ll receive.

Think about the emails you value the most and why you haven’t unsubscribed from them.  Some emails I can only handle once a month, others once a week, and a few I look forward to every day. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment to find the sweet spot and tell your audience what you’re doing.  Quality content and consistency is the best way to ensure the emails are opened and read, without frustrating your audience.

No follow up plan is perfect, but this is the most effective plan I’ve found that works.  Kids are coming back, parents are informed, and it’s not a lot of work. 

What have you found that works best for you?