I only recommend marketing strategies and materials that I believe will work and when it came time for me to run for local office in a write-in campaign, I took my own recommendation and turned to direct mail. Here’s why:
- Targeted a tight universe of 150 registered voters
- Name brand awareness pre-built through prior door-to-door contact
- Only five days to reach audience before election
With key criteria in place for direct mail to succeed, I estimated that if even two recipients would go through the trouble of a write-in then I’d likely win by four votes to none (two for me and my wife), or at least four to one or two in case of some random write-in (yes, 4-0 often wins local races). I secured the mailing list free and pared the list down to 48 households, first selecting people I knew well or had recently met, then selecting those with multiple voters in the same address, then selecting by proximity to my address and then by age since younger voters are less likely to vote.
At the post office, 50 standard postcards cost about $18.00. The clerk stated they would likely be delivered the day after I dropped them at the post office so the mail drop was timed to arrive two days before the election.
For the direct mail postcard copy, four different headlines were used depending on the distance. “I’m your neighbor at #…” and “I’m your neighbor around the corner on Turkey Hill Rd.”, for example. The copy stated I was running to ensure our township would have a voice at the county level, asked for the write-in action and offered my phone and Web site if anyone had questions. The hand-written addresses demonstrated authenticity and they didn’t take nearly as long to write out as I’d anticipated.
When the results came in, this direct mail postcard had returned a 21 percent response (a two percent response is typically considered effective in direct mail circles). This postcard sparked 10 write-in votes en route to a landslide victory (12-0, LOL) on an election day with historically low voter turnout. Many thanks to these fine neighbors.
- Direct mail succeeds when there is pre-existing name brand awareness, savvy copywriting that speaks with both facts and emotion and a compelling visual design that stands out from the mail – all timed to arrive in the mailbox when the recipients are receptive to taking action.
- Many of the laws that impact us most on a daily basis are enacted at the local level such as zoning, planning and building codes yet few people are willing to take on these positions. Often, no candidates appear on the ballot. So those who do get involved wield a disproportionate amount of influence in how their local areas are managed. I would encourage everyone to take a more active role at the local level.