Political Mailers and Voter Outreach in 2018

2018 is an election year, which means that the major parties and candidates will be spending the next 6 months promoting themselves and attacking their opponents through many communications channels, including direct mail.

Considering the public concern and anger over fake news, hacking, and foreign influence in social media from the 2016 races, this election cycle is a good opportunity to use print and mail-in voter contact.

According to a survey of voters in last year’s Virginia governor’s race, mail was ranked as the second-best form of voter outreach, just behind TV. And surprisingly, millennials placed ahead of other generations in the amount of their reliance on mail-in driving voting decisions.

Direct mail can be persuasive in swaying the hearts and minds of some people in election campaigns, it is most valuable in energizing people who already may be aligned with the candidate or party. Turnout – or the lack thereof – can win or sink a candidate’s or party’s election prospects.

What can you do with a political mailer to get their attention, earn their trust, and then, go to the polls on Election Day?

If you’re part of a political campaign, a strategist, or a vendor, here are just a few of many good direct mail practices to follow, offered as a strictly nonpartisan service to keep our republic and its democratic institutions well.

Basic Reminders

In many ways, political mailers aren’t that different from anything else going into the homes of citizens. So:

-short, succinct headlines

-bullet points, not long blocks of text

-keep the design simple, with only a few fonts, and a judicious placement of white space to guide the reader to your main points and call-to-action

-And always remember: benefits, not features. A candidate’s resume is fine, but voters want to know “What’s in it for me?” Answer how the candidate will help solve their problems.

Have A Plan

Depending on your budget, deadlines, and election dates, and candidate name recognition, begin your direct mail outreach no more than 90 days before Election Day. Plan on several contacts with your target audience(s).

Your mail should be consistent with the rest of the campaign’s overall messaging and branding, repeating key themes. Do you need to spend time on introducing your candidate and her story? How will you draw a contrast with her opponents? What issues will get special attention, and to what audience segments will they be mailed?

Use Great Photos

Put the best face forward on your campaign (and candidate) by using sharp, high-resolution images. And while official-looking headshots are fine, use less-formal action shots to help the voter connect with the candidate in a real way.

Engage Voters With Omnichannel

While a printed, tactile mailpiece can have a powerful effect on the brain, a unified campaign that incorporates digital elements may have a bigger reach. Use QR codes or NFC technology to instantly connect with voters. Also, coordinate your mail campaigns with your social media team to ensure that all of your campaign messaging is on the same page.

Make Fundraising Go Further

Political fundraising appeals are pretty simple, usually consisting of an outer, a letter, a response form, and a reply envelope. Sometimes, photos or address labels are enclosed as rewards for donating money.

But what if you could make a donor a visible part of your street team? Palm cards, window stickers, and posters are good tools used in retail and door-to-door campaigning that could be included in your appeal. Prospects you’re targeting outside of your candidate’s district, city, or state could be mailed a standard package without these promotional materials.

Ideas to Use

  • People like convenience, so in states with early voting or mail balloting, remind voters of these options, and offer your assistance.
  • Know your data. Make sure it’s current and clean. Then, target specific segments of voters based on geographic location as well as demographic information. And consider VDP to personalize your campaign!
  • Use Informed Delivery in conjunction with Every Door Direct Mail to reach voters in their email inboxes at the same time as their home address … for no additional cost.

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