A Little Idea to Kill Clutter and Improve Communication with 3×3 Cards

3x3 cards

P rint collateral is the marketing term given to the related media used to support a promotional campaign. The problem was that when I walked around my church, Peachtree, I saw clutter not collateral.

Dozens of activities, ministries and events all want simultaneous promotion. But if I allow every request, the result is piles of paper everywhere that junk up the church campus and not only fail to achieve their individual goals, but send a collective message: confusion about what’s most important.

For example, here’s what a typical countertop space used to look like at my church, Peachtree – on a good day.

How to solve this problem? I devised a little innovation to kill the print clutter and improve communication at our church: small 3×3 cards. Each card is a unique look at various ministries and events, while a single image, brief copy, target url, and common trim size & card stock marries them into a single presentation family.

I had wooden holders created to present them at various locations around campus:

Some cards highlight events but many of them are what I call “identity” cards – simple descriptions of core, ongoing ministry activities.

The goal is for people to be attracted to pick up a card and learn about a ministry. The brief copy and a URL invite them to stick it in their pocket and go online later for more details.

Judging by how quickly they’ve been disappearing, so far it’s a success!

If you want to try something similar in your church, here are some details:

Notes About How to Make the 3×3 card

  • The square design differentiates it from a business card but is still small enough to put in your pocket
  • The card is 80 lb 100 lb cover stock, which is sturdy enough to function as a single piece but not overly important or expensive
  • Each card features a prominent logotype or image representing a ministry or event
  • The back of each card contains a single Why statement, such as “IRONMEN is …” or Student Ministries is…” and a URL for more info.
  • The goal is to give people an easy, attractive reminder to pick up and take with them.
  • The simple copy and URL helps re-trigger the person’s interest when they find it in their pocket wallet or purse later.
  • The URL drives traffic to the website with an opportunity to watch a video, read more and immediately take action, such as sign up or make a calendar commitment to attend an event.

My team and I spent a long time on a good card holder. We wanted something simple yet elegant, that would look right in various places on campus. For us, that meant wood. We had several prototypes created before we landed on the final design.

 

Notes About the Card Holder

  • The 2 card by 3 card grid gives enough slots for several ministries without being too large or cumbersome.
  • The thin framing makes it light and easily adaptable to many settings.
  • The angled card base both holds plenty of cards and invites people to pick one up.

 

Notes About Usage

  • Each ministry has a “generic” Why card, which we use to represent what the ministry is and why a newcomer should join, such as the IRONMEN card above. Then, at strategic times throughout the year, we’ll make event-specific cards for each ministry, such as the annual IRONMEN Big Breakfast every spring – hopefully a maximum of 2 or 3 event cards per ministry.
  • Ideally, every ministry has opportunities to be featured as a ministry, and opportunities to be featured for its signature event(s).
  • My goal is to always have at least half of the cards in distribution be “identity” cards and not “event” cards. This is part of my larger communication goal for the church: to shift from an event-driven approach to a values-driven approach. The reason for this is that I believe the primary appeal of a ministry is the ministry itself – if done right – rather than its events and programs.

 

UPDATE:

I received requests to upload the front and back of the cards. Here are three examples. Sorry for the resolution. Hopefully they’ll give you an idea:

divorce-card The Gym-card Students-card

 

UPDATE 2:

We’re seeing some really cool and unexpected benefits of the cards:

• Certain cards are disappearing more quickly in specific areas of the campus, which is giving us new data about what types of ministries relate to traffic at various entrances and areas around the church. For example, our Divorce Recovery ministry card is going quickly in the cafe but not around the Sanctuary. The VBS registration card is disappearing in a main hall where moms walk.

• The cards are becoming evangelistic tools. In one story I’ve heard, a member was standing behind a woman at a grocery check out line. The woman started crying. The member asked if there was anything they could do to help. The woman said that she was going through a divorce. The member happened to have a Divorce Recovery card in a pocket and was able to pull it out and offer it to the hurting woman.

 

About the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director at St Andrew. Tickle monster. Author, Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon).

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15 Comments on “A Little Idea to Kill Clutter and Improve Communication with 3×3 Cards”

    1. Len Wilson

      Andy, the holder spaces are just big enough to fit the 3×3 cards – 3 1/8″ square. The trim is 1/2″ around. Total spec: L 11 5/8″ W 6 3/4″ H 1 1/2″

        1. Len Wilson

          Yes, it’s 100 lb cover stock. I originally said 80 lb, which my team reminded me is incorrect. We tried 80 and decided it was too flimsy and went to 100. Our print shop manager does good work!

  1. Tim Gossett

    This is super! I’m surprised at the small size – before reading I would have assumed they were 4″ or 5″. But that size definitely lends itself to being put in a pocket and shared with a friend, I’d guess. Plus, at 3″ the copy is limited, so it keeps everything very simple and quick to produce.

    Since it’s so small, do you put multiple holders together in one spot? How frequently are you planning to swap them out for others? Could you share a reverse image, too?

    1. Len Wilson

      Tim, the size definitely keeps it simple. We put 1-2 sentences of copy on the back of each card and a URL for more. I’ll post some flip side pix soon. So far, we’ve got one holder at each station, 6 cards at a time, and a weekly schedule. We put 1-2 new ones out each week, so each card lives in the station about 3-4 weeks. 11 stations around the church. We’re adding 4 more because they’re popular.

  2. Thomas

    Hi Len,
    I know you may have answered this already, but did you make the card holder or did you purchase it? Thanks!

  3. Jeremy Nelson

    You said you had several prototypes created of the card holder before the final edition. Is the final something we could purchase from you/your creator? Or would we have to build it on our own?
    Really love the idea!

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