DM Lessons from the 2013 Election
Regardless of the results, one big winner of last year's election was direct mail. Attacked by politicians across the ideological spectrum, this channel was nevertheless embraced when it came time to raise money from supporters and fire up voters to go to the polls. In fact, more money was spent on direct mail by candidates, parties, and outside entities than on any other medium except television.
I've read a lot of political mail over the years as the archivist of Who's Mailing What!, the world's largest library of direct mail and email. If what I've seen this year is any indication, what worked in 2012 and before is still being applied today. Campaign strategists and vendors should take note of the new techniques, as well as old school ones, that are keeping this "dead" medium very much alive in an off-year election.
A Color Explosion
In previous election cycles, political fundraising appeals, especially from candidates, were typically mailed in stately #10 envelopes, and 2012 had its share. That's why the vivid, 4-color outers mailed by some campaigns really stood out, starting with the innovative Obama for America kickoff effort.
In this year's special U.S. Senate election in New Jersey, Democrat Cory Booker jumped into the fray with a #10 mailer dominated on one side by a photo of the Newark mayor, smiling and speaking in front of a crowd (see image in the media player in the upper right). He joins other senators, such as Elizabeth Warren and Chris Coons, who have recently mailed colorful outer envelopes.
Four-color get-out-the-vote self-mailers are still a standard tool to frame one's opponents or introduce a candidate to the public with a "soft sell," like the one for Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican in this year's Virginia gubernatorial race (see image in the media player in upper right).