By Captain Terry Camsey –
No! I’m not talking about making lemonade from concentrate, or mixing any other kind of drinks, for that matter…
although I did see a film a few years ago about Sherlock Holmes. It was called “The Seven Percent Solution,” and, far from referring to the solving of a case, had to do with Holmes’ alleged drug habit. Even in those days it seems that substance abuse was a kind of socially acceptable thing to do in certain upper-crust circles.
No, I’m talking about how the “Law of Large Numbers” holds hope for any corps wishing to expand its influence in the community.
Simply stated, as many will know, the “Law” reveals that–if you ask 1,000 to door-buy something–100 will express an interest and 10 will actually respond. Now, in reality, the figures don’t always work out to be quite so precise, but you can depend upon a response of anywhere from one-half a percent to one and a half percent. The difference seems to be based on people’s receptivity to what you have to offer.
It does seem to work out in practice. I have seen results based on studies of door-to-door visitation, dropping flyers through letter-boxes, mass mailing and using the telephone. All are, of course, different ways to “visit” people…some more high tech and time-saving than others.
You can get better results by the way you couch the offer. I have known a sort of “bait and switch” technique to be at work when, instead of being up front and saying what is really being offered (an invitation to church, for example), a short survey has been done to gather information on what kinds of needs exist…followed up later by the invitation to visit church.
The response rate appeared, initially, to be much higher because people were positive about giving such information (not sensing the “catch”), but–in terms of actually attracting visitors-the figure ran around the one percent expected.
The whole point, of course, is that–whatever method of contact is used–responsive people, those who are right now see their need of what you offer, respond, while resistant people, who do not presently see their need of what you offer do not! A kind of sifting process takes place so that you know those who respond are really looking for something on the lines of what you offer. If that is “fellowship in a friendly church”…and if you really are friendly when they turn up, they’ll keep coming.
So what is the point of all this?
I once asked Norm Whan, designer of “The Phone’s For You” telemarketing program for the church, what would happen if–in the same community–several churches phoned the same 20,000 people and invited them to worship. “What kind of response would they each see?” I asked.
His reply astounded me. He suggested that each church would see around a one percent response…200 people would come to each at least once. Whether they returned would depend on what was offered! That is because different people respond to different things…including denominations and individual church styles.
That means, if true, and I believe it to be so, that one percent of the unchurched people in your community would respond to an invitation to visit your corps. And, since only about 40 percent of Americans go to church regularly, that represents one percent of all the unchurched within reasonable travel distance (20 minutes) of our corps.
Work it out for yourself. It really is a “One Percent Solution!”