Obama's $750 Million Juggernaut
Fortunately, in direct mail you are able to test almost anything, including political appeals. We mailed out, as I recall, several different letters, each one putting forward a different central idea on why the recipient of the letter should support Sen. Taft.
Keying: an Essential Element
We needed some way to measure the effect of our different appeals, so in each mailing we included a "contribution card," keyed to the letter it went with. That is, we put an inconspicuous letter of the alphabet in a corner of each card: A, B, C, and so on-depending upon which letter the card originally went out with. In each case we said, "Send us some money to help re-elect Sen. Taft." When contributions came in—each with a keyed card—we were able to count returns from each letter and tell which pulled the best.
We sent out about 20,000 copies of each letter. I was astounded when the letter (written by Sen. Taft), which was built around a positive presentation of the Taft-Hartley Act, was far and away the most successful.
We subsequently mailed hundreds of thousands of Taft-Hartley letters into the blue-collar worker sections of the industrial cities of Ohio: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Akron, and so on. The blue-collar workers responded by voting overwhelmingly for Taft against the urging, advice, and $3 million campaign fund of their union leaders.
In addition, much to our surprise, we received a substantial number of small contributions, which helped us finance the direct mail campaign. Indeed, the campaign paid for itself!
Subsequently, in 1952, when Taft and Eisenhower were rivals for the Presidential nomination, I was a Taft partisan because of my previous experience working for Sen. Taft. I was very disappointed when Eisenhower got the nomination.
A few days later, Mr. Cole called me into his office and said, "How would you like to take a leave of absence and run the direct mail campaign for Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon?"