The Secret of Winning Elections: Direct Mail
As it turned out, the mailing not only paid for itself, but brought in thousands of dollars over its actual cost. Campaign finance manager Sidney Weinberg then declared that this raised a moral issue. We had asked for contributions to help elect Eisenhower. Now he was elected, and we had money left over.
Therefore we were obligated to refund the excess contributions.
Summing Up What We Learned From the Early Republican Direct Mail Efforts
- We proved that political appeals can be tested—just like sales appeals for any other product. And we substituted test results for opinions.
- We discovered that we could make such tests, and subsequent rollout mailings, self-financing.
- We had found a way (in the guise of fundraising) to influence millions of voters, through self-financing mail order appeals.
- We had evolved a method of getting many voters to "bet on a horse"—that is, contribute money to a candidate—which made it much more likely that those voters would indeed get out and vote for the candidate of their choice.
- An ancillary benefit: voters who put "money on a horse" wanted that horse to win. So contributors urged friends, family and neighbors to vote for Eisenhower-Nixon.
- And, finally, we'd established a way to secure the names of hundreds of thousands of supporters—people who could be counted upon to contribute to our cause in response to future appeals. We had that most precious of all mail order possessions: a list of customers!
- The final Eisenhower letter, which I wrote, put all these elements together, and produced the desired effect: $1 million in contributions. With established mail order basics at our service, raising that $1 million was a simple matter. It took only one letter!
Takeaways to Consider
- "Fortunately, in direct mail you are able to test almost anything, including political appeals." —Walter Weintz
- Don't let pundits and babble-heads define the issues.
- Test issue-oriented fund raising appeals.
- The winning tests—the ones that generate the most revenue—become the USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
Denny Hatch 's new book is "Write Everything Right!" Wesley Murph, The Marketing Maniac, writes, "I was just dropping you a line to let you know that I totally "dig" your new book. I haven't gotten through it all. But what I have read, I love. In particular, I really enjoy your style. You call a spade a spade. And what's cool is nine times out of ten you're dead on the money. Keep up the great work!" Click here to download (opens as a PDF) and read the first 3 Chapters FREE. Contact Denny at email@example.com.