Guest post by Allison Williams

A few years back, the show ‘Portlandia’ did a hysterical sketch called, “Put a Bird on it.” It was mocking how hipsters shop at boutiques. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein argued that they could sell anything if they put a bird on the item. Sometimes, in youth ministry, students get so adapted to our style that we need to ‘put a bird on’ things to help them stand out in a fresh way to our audience.

Regardless of the size or scope of your ministry context, you likely are doing mailings for camps and events to your students. Where I am, sending a mailing out involves creating the document and emailing it to my secretary (including to what age group and when I’d like the mailing to go out).

Studies have been done by advertisers that show how much more effective handwriting and personalization is when doing a mass mailing. Whether that’s the envelope or the piece of mail enclosed, having something written out specifically to a person massively increases the chance someone is going to interact with your mailing.

My ministry context is not massive, but I still have no time or motivation to handwrite addresses instead of a mail merge for each camp brochure. Instead, I’ve started to ‘put a post-it on it.’

I have my secretary prepare a mailing for me and have it all ready to go, except for sealing the envelope. Then I take the time to personalize some of the mailing with a post it, seal the envelope, and throw it in the mailbox. I use neon post-its and a black Sharpie marker. I always include the student’s name and sign my name to the post-it.

Some generic post-its are, “Hey Sam! I hope you can make it!” Or, “Ariel, We would love to see you on a trip!” Other post-its are more personalized like, “Abby, The band that you loved last year is going to be at winter conference again this year. You’ve gotta get registered!” Or, “Jacob, Student Leadership is so you! Think about applying!!!.”

The beauty of the post-it is you don’t have to hit every piece of mail. Sending out 100 camp registration forms? Try to add post-its 15 of those.

Whatever we can do to make the normal feel fresh to our students adds excitement and ultimately increases traction at our event.