Despite their lowly reputation, political yard signs are an essential tool that campaigns both big and small use to help raise their candidate’s name identification and get their message out in front of the voters repeatedly. In order to be successful, your campaign should take time in designing and printing your signs and in planning out your sign strategy. For more information on designing your yard signs, see Local Victory’s recent article How to Design Great Political Signs.
Goals and Planning
As mentioned above, the goal of your yard sign strategy is simple. Your signs should be used to raise your candidate’s name recognition – by having the voters see your candidate’s name over and over again, they will come to recognize him or her as a candidate. Similarly, by seeing your signs in many different places, the voters will get the impression that your campaign is receiving widespread support across the district.
Most campaigns don’t plan out a strategy for yard signs. Instead, they simply send out volunteers to place the signs wherever they can. This is a mistake. The key to ensuring that your signs succeed is planning out a detailed yard sign strategy – where should your signs go and when.
Of course, the answers to these questions are largely based on your campaign’s financial situation, which determines how many signs you can purchase. Will you be able to blanket the district in signs, or will you only be able to afford a few dozen signs that will have to last you through the entire campaign?
Another key element to your plan is timing when your signs go up. In many municipalities, there are laws which govern yard signs and when they may be posted, so check to make sure your campaign complies with the law. My usual advice to campaigns is that, unless there is an important strategic or financial reason, yard signs should start going up as soon as legally possible. Raising name ID is hard, and you’ll need all the time you can get to be successful. Incumbents, too, should plan on placing yard signs as soon as possible.
Like all aspects of your campaign, your yard sign strategy should be closely targeted to be effective. Certainly, unless there is a very good reason to do otherwise, your signs should all be placed in your district. Other considerations include making sure that signs are placed on major thoroughfares and close to high traffic areas in your district, and (unless you have an endless supply of signs) placing less signs in areas that you know you won’t win in order to place more signs in areas where there are more favorable swing voters.
It is also important to make sure that signs stay up in areas you have targeted. One great political truism is that no matter how many yard signs you put up, some will eventually disappear. You need to have a plan in place to replenish signs on a regular basis, especially in your key targeted areas.
The last piece of the yard sign puzzle is your organization – the people who put up your signs and make sure they stay up. It is important to recruit a team to scour the district for sign locations. This team can also help your campaign look for supporters in targeted areas who will agree to place your signs on their lawns or in their windows. Be sure to keep an eye out as you go door to door as well – ask voters that you visit if they would be willing to display a sign for your campaign