2 New Direct Mail Tricks Used in Election 2012

For decades, direct mail has been the workhorse of grassroots political fundraising. And judging by what’s appeared so far in this election cycle, it’s not going to be put out to pasture any time soon. Surveys, membership cards, photos and letters from rockstar politicians have dominated the 2012 mailstream because they all still work well.

But new to the mix this time around are posters and palm cards, tactics adapted from the world of door-to-door campaigning. Let’s take a look at how each one has been used by the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns to augment their fundraising efforts.

The Mailer Is A Poster
Here’s proof that you don’t need an envelope to mail a fundraising appeal. Just take a piece of heavy stock paper, fold it into thirds, insert your letter, reply form, and reply envelope, then seal the open edge with spot glue. There’s your carrier. Only a few fundraisers have used this type of piece, none of them a national political organization, until Obama for America did so this past April.

Measuring 6″x11-1/2″ when mailed, the poster graphic covers the inside panels, opening to 16-3/4″x11-1/2.” Underneath the headline “CHANGE IS,” a stylized headshot of President Barack Obama dominates, similar to the iconic poster created in 2008 by Shepard Fairey. Beneath that is a list in reversed-out white type: “1/29/2009 EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK 3/30/2009 SAVING THE US AUTO INDUSTRY 5/22/2009 CREDIT CARD REFORM 10/28/2009 HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT 3/23/2010 AFFORDABLE CARE ACT 3/30/2010 … 12/18/2011 ENDING THE WAR IN IRAQ

The 3-page letter asks the supporter to remember how he felt on Election Night 2008, and warns that “all the accomplishments you see on the enclosed poster … will be at risk if we lose” in 2012. “Please continue to stand with us,” it pleads.

Paul Bobnak is the director of Who's Mailing What!, the most complete, searchable and fully online library of direct mail and email in the world. He has read and analyzed thousands of direct mail packages (offers, copy, designs, incentives and formats) and email in more than 200 industry categories, including nonprofits, retail, insurance, telecom, B-to-B, financial services and publishing. He writes for the e-newsletter Today @ Target Marketing and has been a judge in NonProfit PRO's Gold Awards for Fundraising Excellence since 2006.
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  • David Himes

    I was involved in direct mail fund raising for the Republican Party for over 15 years in the 1980-1990s. While the poster format is new, the involvement techniques are not. And while they are likely a useful part of an aggressive and robust direct mail program … any involvement technique with draws the reader’s attention away from the act of giving, will likely depress over all response. Both of these techniques draw away from the act of giving.

    That’s not to say I would not use them, only that when individually compared to other package formats and involvement techniques, there are better versions of both.