Tuesday, June 29, 2010

5 things you are too chicken to do with your campaign mail Part 2 White Space

The dictionary describes white space as "the unprinted area of a piece of printing, as of a poster or newspaper page, or of a portion of a piece of printing, as of an advertisement; blank space."

Commercial ads get this and use it effectively quite often.

Political ads and mail on the other hand seem to think that if there is more space you should just add more policy and issue bullet points. Because everyone is interested in your 27 point plan to reshape local government right? Not so much...

My point is instead of trying to make your next piece a "issue summary" why not pick one issue and use high impact visuals and compelling, but concise, copy to deliver a message that leaves an impression on a voter.

Do not believe that continuing to decrease your font size is the best way to squeeze in more text. Resist the urge to turn your mailing into a white paper on policy. Use your mail to push an interested reader to you web site. Your campaign site is that place where you can have the 27 point plan with 15 part appendix.

Last but not least please please please skip the stars, elephants and eagles that so many political candidates seem to think are mandatory. If your mailing says "Smith for Senate" then voters don't need a gratuitously huge flag and a elephant shooting stars from it's trunk...they get it, you are running for office.

Good luck and feel free to post your examples of really bad/good mail pieces to our facebook page for Fans of Political Mail .

Thursday, June 17, 2010

5 things you are too chicken to do with your political voter contact mail Part 1

To clarify here I mean “voter contact mail” NOT fund raising mail. The kind that says your opponent has horns and kicks puppies or says that you are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

1. UNSUBSCRIBE – We put it on almost all of our electronic communications so why not put an email address or SMS code on your mail offering voters the option to “not receive any additional mail from the campaign”? Why do it? A hypothesis of mine is that - any and all efforts to engage voters and encourage feedback is a good thing - so why not try it in your mail. Let’s say that 5% of a mailing universe of 50,000 households responds (wildly high number that I doubt would happen) then you would have to remove 2,500 households from your voter contact universe and save, ball park $1,000 in your next mailing. Over the course of five more mailings you could save $5k…or more.

So are you losing the ability to talk to 2,500 households? Realistically, if they are willing to go thru the effort to do that they are either hard core supporters or hard core haters. Either of which probably don’t need any more mail from you. I am sure there will be a few in there who are just angry independents and may be undecided but, again, if they are willing to go thru the trouble of emailing or texting you then they really don’t want to get any more mail from you.

Let’s take a closer look at the hard core supporters who respond (say 1,000 households of the original 2,500) why not offer them the additional choice of unsubscribe AND get a yard sign or unsubscribe and volunteer. Maybe you could take them off the voter contact universe and add them to a fund raising list. See Malcolm Gladwell’s notes on Mavens.

As with anything else the devil is always in the details. If you wanted to try this you would need to make sure you had some sort of follow up mechanism in place (insert intern joke here) to clean your list and respond to those interested in getting more involved in the campaign. This, of course, is where most campaigns will suffer an epic fail and not do the follow up.

Naturally, most of my clients are not chickens so when we have data on this I will share it.