Winning the Yard Sign War: Design and Strategy for Your Political Yard Signs

Yard signs are a significant part of any grassroots effort.  Almost every campaign, no matter how small or large, relies on yard signs as part of its grassroots strategy.  Yard signs serve three primary purposes:

#1 – Raising Name ID – Yard signs get your name in front of voters, raising your overall name ID and complementing your other media efforts.

#2 – Showing Widespread Support – As your yard signs start to sprout on lawns across the district, people start to notice.  Having lots of yard signs in place gives the impression that you are gaining support and traction in the race.

#3 – Generating Activity – Yard signs are an easy “volunteer job.”  Getting your volunteers “acting” as soon as they sign-up to volunteer is important… you have to keep them engaged.  One easy way to do that is to ask them to put up a yard sign, and to recruit three of their neighbors to do the same.

Designing Your Yard Signs

When designing your yard signs, remember: simplicity reigns.  Many campaigns try to put way too much text on their signs, making them unreadable.  Generally your yard signs should only show the candidates’ name and the office he or she is running for.  If there’s enough space, you can also add the campaigns’ theme or tagline, which ties directly back into the message.  There should be lots of open space on the sign to make it readable, and campaigns should definitely keep graphics to a minimum.

The color scheme on your yard signs should ideally relate to your overall campaign color scheme.  If your logo, brochures, tour bus, and lapel stickers are all red, white, and blue, then your yard signs should be too.  If your color scheme is green and white, or green, blue and white, then consider green and white or green, blue and white for your yard signs.

After you have finished your yard sign design, put your sample sign through the 30/3 yard sign test.  Have one of your campaign volunteers stand 30 feet away, and flash your yard sign at you for 3 seconds.  Can you read everything on it easily?  If so, then someone driving by in a car will be able to read it as well.  If you can’t read it during the 30/3 test, then something needs to be re-designed: a new color scheme, less text, a different font, or bigger words.

Placing Your Yard Signs

Once you’ve gotten your yard signs designed and printed, implement a cohesive yard sign strategy to get your signs placed throughout your district.

You’ll want to get your signs up during the Name ID portion of your campaign (where you’re trying to build name recognition for the candidate), if not sooner.  Be sure to keep a record of the people who agree to put up signs for your campaign – these folks are supporters, and want to see you win.  Stay in touch with them, invite them to fundraisers, and include them in your get out the vote efforts.

The best way to get signs up is to ask.  It’s simple, but far too many campaigns have come to me wringing their hands, saying “we just can’t get these 500 signs up!  What should we do?”  After talking with them, it becomes clear: they haven’t gone out and asked.  Unless your campaign is a nationally well-known race, very few people will call your office asking you to come by with yard signs.  It’s your campaign’s job to go out and recruit people to put up signs.  The best ways to ask people are:

Include Yard Signs in Your Volunteer Strategy – ask every person who wants to volunteer if they will put up a yard sign, and if they will ask their neighbors to do the same.

Ask your Donors – Have someone call all of your donors and ask them if they’d like a yard sign.  Offer to have a volunteer stop by and put it up for them.

Bring Signs to Events – Bring yard signs to all of your campaign events.  Have the campaign manager get up and ask everyone to take one home with them to put on their front lawn.

Door to Door – As part of your campaign’s regular door to door efforts, ask folks if you can come back and put up a sign.  You can also go door to door just to ask people to put up signs.

The keys to a successful yard sign strategy are smart sign design, and a willingness to go out and ask people to put your signs up.  Get started early, and keep the activity going throughout the entire campaign.



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