Personal invitations are the difference between opening a mailed, colorful, printed, hand-addressed card for your cousin’s birthday party and hearing about it through a last-minute text from your mom. There is nothing quite like getting a handwritten invitation in the mail. Your retreat guests deserve that same feeling. Sure, you want everyone to come to your event, but the key is to make each individual feel personally invited. A flyer placed where everyone can see can be read by many, but none will immediately think that you want them specifically there.
You can put yourself through a lot of work to handwrite addresses on postcards or letters sent directly to church members. But there are some quicker ways to get a similar effect. Instead of a letter, send an email. This won’t end up in their physical mailbox, but the email inbox gets checked, too. The best part about email is that with services like Mail Chimp, you can simply import your list of recipients and by using merge tags, have an email that includes that person’s information. You can even include the person’s name in the subject line. BUT you only had to write and send 1 email! Some may argue that emails are not at all personal, but if written correctly, they can be. Just be sure to put the registration link in there. It is good to let guests know to expect the email, so that it doesn’t accidentally get deleted or sent to the junk folder.
Another electronic means of personal invitation is through Facebook invites. If you have already created a Facebook event, then you can simply send invitations to friends by clicking the “Invite” button. Then they get a notification saying you invited them to the event. While this may still seem like an impersonal means, it is much better than simply posting on the church page that an event is happening. With that route, you also have to hope people even see it. Like I said, with the invite, they get a notification, and for some, that means a beep and light up on the cell phone. Plus, they are immediately sent to the page to see the information and submit their RSVP.
Make a video. A short, you’re-invited video can be a fun way to invite someone to your event. Make sure to use the word “you” a lot so that they know that you want them there. You can send it through Facebook messenger or post it as “unlisted” on YouTube and share the link to each individual. This is a fun and unique way to give it the personal face-to-face touch, without actually having to be there.
If you want to stick to the old-fashioned letter, there are also ways to help speed up the writing process. Similar to the merge tags in Mail Chimp, Microsoft Word allows you to use a mail merge to create individualized documents. Put your guest list into Excel and save it. Then in Word, under the Mailings tab, you can do a letter mail merge that allows you to insert your information from Excel into the letter. This is perfect for a letter about youth camp. List the parents’ names in one column and kids’ names in another. Then in your letter you say, “We would love to have KidsName1 and KidsName2 at youth camp this summer!”. Everyone may get the same letter, but the fact that it is personalized to them will give it that special something.
The key to these personalized pieces is making each person feel as though you are talking directly to them. Anywhere that you can insert their name or information is a big help. Likewise, if they have attended previously, make sure to send them something that thanks them for attending last time and invites them back.