Direct mail is one of the most important tools that local campaigns can use to reach voters effectively and afford-ably.  To make your mail pieces succeed, you have to plan your campaign and design your mail to be effective.  Here are some basic guidelines:

Grab the voters’ attention

Remember, your mail piece is competing not only with every other campaign mailing that is send out, but with catalogs, bills, business advertisements, CDs from AOL, and all the other junk that clutters up a mailbox.  To avoid being dumped in the trash with the latest supermarket circular, your mailing needs to stand out.

Use big headlines and catchy graphics, with big sub-headlines interspersed throughout the piece, drawing the reader through the mailer.  Let the voters drill down for more info (the text of your piece) if they want to, but they should notice the headline and be able to follow your gist just by reading your sub-headlines.

Visuals Rule

Your text is important (especially for the press who read your piece), but the most important parts for the voters are the visuals.  Use powerful graphics and pictures, including a color scheme that stands out but is easy on the eye.  Leave lots of “white space” (the space around your text and visuals that is left blank) – it makes the piece easy to read.  Your “white space” need not be white – for example, you may be using a light blue background.

To Stand Out, Don’t be Standard

Shy away from using the “good old fashioned” political colors and logos.  If you do, your mail will simply blend in with all the other political mail that the voter receives.  Your mail must GET NOTICED!  That being said, keep it simple.  Too many graphics, too many colors, and your reader will get tired or think it looks “amateurish.”

Know What People Read

After the headline, the most read part of the letter is the “P.S.” – if you’re sending out a letter-type mailing, always put your number-one message in the P.S.  People also read the captions on photos – always put informative captions on the photos you use.  If a paragraph is particularly important, make it extremely short (2-3 lines) or use a “pullout” capital letter to start the paragraph – either one will make it more likely to be read by people who are just “skimming” your piece.  Remember – before reading, almost everyone just “skims” to see if it is worth his or her time.

A great compliment for your direct mail campaign is an e-mail newsletter.  To find out more, read Starting an E-mail Newsletter for Your Campaign.

Now that you’ve got political direct mail covered, do you know how to design great yard signs?