Direct mail tips for a winning campaign

Dollar for dollar, direct mail is the single most effective form of mass political communications.

Unlike TV or radio you can directly target individual registered, active voters with direct mail, instead of wasting thousands of dollars airing an ad to tens of thousands of people who don’t vote, aren’t registered or don’t live in your district.

Unlike TV or radio, mail merge and variable-print technologies also allow you to individually address individual voters, letting you speak directly with them as people.

Direct mail is powerful, persuasive and a smart investment that can win races. Once the door-to-door program is established and funded, I tend to spend virtually every other penny on direct mail, leading to stunning results.  Spend as much of your money as possible on a direct mail campaign targeted at active voters favorable to your candidate (i.e. don’t bother mail registered Democrats or Democrat primary voters if your opponent is a Democrat.)  Don’t bother with balloons, t-shirts, mugs or other giveaways.

Don’t be afraid to attack your opponent.  In fact, relish it.  There’s a reason you see almost nothing but attack ads during elections — THEY WORK.  AMAZINGLY. 

You owe it to liberty to win, so look forward to every opportunity you have to let people know what your opponents real intentions, promises and record are. 

Along with spending nearly every penny I have on direct mail, I also make sure nearly all of it — if not all of it — are attack mailings.  It produces positive and earth-moving results every time.

You should also consider hiring a direct mail professional.  The initial investment may seem large, but it pays off in the end.

Below, provides seven basic tips for running an effective direct mail program:

1. Be Emotional

The best political fundraising direct mail appeals to core human emotions.  Too many candidates try to avoid making a personal connection in their mail pieces.  If you want to raise money through the mail, strike an emotional cord with your prospects.

2.  Tell a Story

Good mail pieces tell a compelling story — they spell out for the reader why the election, and your candidacy, is so important that they should write a check and send it in now – today!  Ideally, the story will tie back to your campaign message.

3.  Use Urgency

Your goal is to get your prospects to write a check as soon as they finish reading the letter… that means that you’ll need to tell them why they should send in a check right away.  Why do you need the money now?

4.  Be Personal

In this day and age, “Dear Voter” letters don’t work.  People expect you to be personal in your letters… at the very least, the salutation should address the person directly (i.e. Dear John, or Dear Mrs. Ragu).  Even better is personalizing the letter several times, including the person’s name multiple times, and maybe even mentioning their town name or some other personal tidbit somewhere in the letter.

5.  Make an Ask

You’d be surprised how many candidates send out direct mail fundraising letters without actually making an ask.  Tell people why you are running, why the race matters, and why you need the money – then ask for it!

6.  Mind Your P’s and Q’s

Political fundraising direct mail letters need not be overly stuffy or formal (in fact, for most races, they should seem rather conversational and informal) but… and this is a big but… watch your grammar and spelling.  Voters may want to feel like you’re a “normal guy (or girl),” but they also want to know that you care enough to edit and spell check your letters.

7.  Mix it Up

If your campaign is using lots of fundraising direct mail, be sure to mix it up – send most letters out signed by the candidate, but maybe one signed by the candidate’s spouse, another by the campaign manager, and yet another by the campaign accountant (“I just looked at the checkbook, and realized we need to raise $5000 this week in order to win!”)

Political fundraising direct mail can be a significant boost to your campaign’s bottom line, even if your campaign is fairly small and local.  Use these tips to make your mail efforts effective within your overall fundraising strategy.

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