The Secret of Winning Elections: Direct Mail
If you want to reach people directly, personally, intimately, use mail.
For starters, direct mail must be physically touched. It cannot be zapped, muted or mouse-clicked away.
Two Great Pioneers of Political Direct Mail
1. Richard Viguerie (b. 1933) has been the godfather conservative fundraising for 50 years. In his fascinating new book, TAKEOVER, Viguerie sums up the advantages of using direct mail in politics:
I received a lot of establishment media criticism back in the 1970s by those who saw political direct mail as having only one purpose—to raise money. I was regularly attacked in the national media if a mailing didn't make a profit for the client. What these critics didn't understand was that direct mail is advertising, and that it is a form of alternative media that educates voters, organizes activists to pass or defeat legislation, and identifies favorable voter and supporters—and raises money too.
However, all the criticism I was subjected to stopped in a few hours on Election Night November 1980. [Ronald Reagan soundly whupped incumbent Jimmy Carter.] I could almost hear our critics in the political community and the media saying, "Aha! That's what Viguerie and his friends have been up to."
When I started in 1961, direct mail was the second-largest form of advertising, second only to television. Today in 2014, direct mail is still the second-largest form of advertising.
2. Walter Weintz (1915-1996) Disclaimer: The Walter Weintz (pronounced wents) Agency handled my advertising when I ran book clubs for Meredith in the 1970s. I joined the agency as a copywriter and Walt was the main mentor of my career. He changed my life. I loved the guy.
In 1952, Walt was circulation director of Reader's Digest. The owner, DeWitt Wallace—a deeply committed Republican—put Walt on detached duty to handle the direct mail for the Eisenhower-Nixon presidential campaign. The following is an excerpt from The Solid Gold Mailbox by Walter Weintz: