Top 5 First-Time Visitor Gifts

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The old saying "you only get one chance to make a first impression" is so true when someone visits your church for the first time. Striking the right balance between too much and too little on the welcome front can be challenging. Lots of churches give out small gifts to first-time guests. Reasoning ranges from letting people know that you're glad they came to your church to hoping they'll come back and visit again. You can also use these items to gather contact information and stay connected with a guest after they make their visit. We're going to share our 5 favorite gifts that are guaranteed to leave a great first impression. But...here are some "fails" when it comes to first-time visitor gifts:

1. Anything that breaks. We can't tell you how many times we've visited a church while doing a Weekend Service Evaluation and received a gift that breaks almost immediately after you get in the car. If it's cheap and breaks easily, just skip it. It's not worth the investment. 
2. Anything that is messy. We visited a church once that gave away some art kits to kids as a welcome gift. The only problem was that 2 families shared that the kids opened the kits and immediately ruined their clothes. Not a great first impression. 
3. Anything that is dated. Maybe pass on handing out a CD of your worship service or sermon. Most cars don't even come with CD players anymore. Make sure whatever the look and feel of the item you're giving away is current, relevant, and not dated from 1987. 

Now that we've gotten the pitfalls out of the way, let's talk about some of the coolest things we've seen used as a welcome gift:

1. LoveHandles - We're big fans of LoveHandles. It's our absolute favorite first-time visitor gift. They are useful, unique, super reasonably priced, and easy to personalize. We love them so much we use them as our main marketing piece and we even made them a strategic partner. They are a Christian company doing some amazing work. People will be blown away at how practical they are and it's a great advertisement for your church! Even one of the Sharks from Shark Tank loved them so much that he invested in the company. You can see them in action here: 

Send them an email to ministry@lovehandle.com and tell them The Ministry Mechanics sent you. Here you can see our custom LoveHandles and the cards they are attached to:

2. Tumblers. Not the cheapest gift in the world, but a really nice tumbler with your branding attached is a great way to remind people of their visit and continue to have a connection with guests. Not all tumblers are created equal, so do a test with a few different ones to find the ones that hold up the best, are easy to clean, and look nice after several cleanings. 

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3. Hats. Cool hats are really popular right now. Custom embroidery can be a little costly, but it's a walking advertisement for your church and it helps people feel like they are on the team and that they belong. Think about having several options for different people. Try some snapbacks for ladies, fitted caps with a flat bill for the cool kids, and don't forget the always popular dad hats. 

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4. Stickers. Everyone loves cool stickers (especially young people). From stickers you can put on your car, to stickers that go on your books, to stickers you can stick on your guitar case, stickers are a fun way to spread the word about your church and let people find cool ways to connect to your church brand. We love StickerMule.com. They are really easy to work with and offer tons of sizes, shapes, and varieties out of your church logo/slogan. Maybe even find some cool ways to use the stickers as artwork in your building and invite people to stick one on and be a part of the fun. Here is an idea for using stickers on a display on one of your walls at Christmas time:

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5. Local Swag. Every town has something unique and local that sets them apart and makes them special. Find a business that has a ton of credibility in your area and partner with them to create a customized first-time visitor gift that is unique and has a local flair. Some suggestions are coffee from a local roaster in a custom bag with your logo and the coffee roaster logo, a high-quality chocolate bar from a local artisan, or hats/shirts from a local designer. Work together and let the power of the partnership strengthen both brands and build some momentum and goodwill with locals. Imagine one of the examples below with your branding. It would look pretty awesome!

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No matter what you do, do it with excellence. Exceed expectations of your guests and surprise them with the quality, excellence, and execution. If you can't make it a quality experience, being friendly is always free, and that's the best thing you can give away anytime at any church! Need some help putting together a process for welcoming people in to your church and retaining visitors? We can help! Send us an email to schedule a consultation and let's get to work transforming your culture and making a difference in the lives of people in your city and beyond.