Old fashioned political direct mail – sent through the snail mail postal system – is still an effective way to reach voters with your candidate’s message.

E-mail is gaining more and more steam as a political communications medium, but direct mail still works.  It’s highly targeted, more cost-effective than TV for small campaigns, and can be used to deliver a variety of political messages.

If you’re planning to use political direct mail in your next campaign, here’s a quick checklist to make sure that you’re using it in the most effective way possible:

Do You Know Why You’re Sending this Mail Piece?

Never send mail without knowing why your are sending it.  Political direct mail is less expensive than TV advertising, but it still costs money.  Don’t send out a mailing just because someone on your team thinks, “it’s time.”

There are 6 primary types of political communications.  Make sure your mail piece falls under one of those types and moves the ball forward for your campaign.

Does Your Mailing Support Your Campaign Message?

Every communication your campaign sends out (online, offline, on the airwaves, etc.) should be laser-focused on supporting your campaign’s message.  Your direct mail is no different.  Whether your mailing is trying to raise your candidate’s name ID, comparing your candidate with your opponent, highlighting one of your opponent’s mistakes, or anything in between… make sure it supports your overall campaign message.

Are You Closely Targeting the Recipients of this Mailing?

One of the best things about political direct mail is that it can be highlight targeted.  You can choose to send your mail piece to as few or as many people as you like, segmented by as many different demographic and vote history criteria as you like.

Don’t send mail out to everyone in your district.  That’s a waste.  Target your mailing to make sure that you are only reaching those that you want to reach.  Who you are targeting will depend on your campaign’s strategy, and may include members of your party, swing voters, people who vote in every election, etc.  Develop a targeting strategy as part of your campaign plan, and use the mail to help support that targeting strategy.

Is Your Mailing Designed to Effectively Grab Voters’ Attention?

There’s a science to writing great direct mail pieces.  You need to understand that most voters won’t read the whole piece.  They’ll scan your mailing… they’ll look at the headlines and the pictures and the bolded words and the P.S.   Make sure that your mail piece is designed to grab voter’s attention and to tell the entire story you want to tell using the headlines, pull quotes, bolded words, etc.

Are You Running a Complementary Outreach Campaign Online?

One of the best ways to break through the clutter with your political direct mail is to run an online communications campaign that complements your offline direct mail.  This means that if you are sending out a bio mailing through the mail, you also send out a complementary bio piece to your e-mail list and highlight it on social media.

Of course, an online component isn’t appropriate for every mailing.  For example, if you are sending out a negative piece to a small portion of the electorate (e.g. independent super voters in certain swing precincts), you won’t necessarily want to broadcast that message to your entire list (though you may be able to send it to a small, similarly targeted segment of your e-mail list).  But, for many communications, an online component makes sense.

Political direct mail is a smart, cost-effective strategy for most campaigns.  Be sure to use this checklist to ensure that your mailings help put you over the top on Election Day.


Photo Credit: Francois Schnell