Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 Elections Provide Political Direct Mail Lessons

While the spotlight was on digital politicking in 2012 and 2013, direct mail continued to be one of the most potent weapons in the campaign arsenal, with more money spent on direct mail by candidates, parties, and outside entities than on any other medium except television. Candidates and causes gearing up for 2014 direct mail appeals should take a look at a review of 2012-2013 political mail tactics by Paul Bobnak, research director of Who's Mailing What!, which tracks direct mail and e-mail in over 220 categories. Bobnak notes that colorful outer mailings are the rule not the exception now; no more sedate white No. 10 envelopes. Four-color, get-out-the-vote self-mailers are another favored tool. Meanwhile, fundraising efforts are borrowing new ideas from other channels to rev up direct mail appeal. For example, both Obama and Romney fundraising efforts used posters and palm cards, copying retail marketing tactics. Borrowing from the Internet, campaigns also have latched onto the "infographic" to persuade donors. On the theme of "everything old is new again," some old direct mail gimmicks have resurfaced. Back in vogue is mailing a penny or a live stamp clipped to the reply form, for example. Outer envelopes that look like FedEx, Priority Mail or interoffice mail also are being deployed, reports Bobnak. Direct mail's ability to add a personal touch may mean even more in the age of Big Data: Both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic National Committee have enclosed old-fashioned index cards in their appeals to the party faithful, implying that vital members and donors are being personally tracked via file cards, instead of targeted by impersonal databases. For some more examples of compelling mail and copy, check out Bobnak's post at http://www.directmarketingiq.com/article/direct-mail-lessons-2013-2012-political-campaigns-elections/1

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