Why Direct Mail About Politics Still Influences Millennials

Why Direct Mail About Politics Still Influences
Millennials:

The Top 7 Takeaways for Campaigns

By Elena Neely

PoliticalMailBox

Let’s say you’re a candidate for elective office, whether local, state or federal, during this political cycle. Suppose, further, that in your quest for public service, you plan to target the much-coveted demographic of 18-to-34-year-olds known as Millennials.

Well, that should be a breeze, right? They’re hooked on social media channels– often through smartphones and tablets. As all the experts know, the be-all and end-all tactic for reaching Millennials is through digital channels, correct?

Actually, no. So reveals new research about the issue from a study sponsored by the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC). The key finding of the polling and focus group research is that young voters in fact pay close attention to direct mail and see it as relevant. Any communications strategy aimed at younger voters that focuses exclusively on digital channels is missing the opportunity available through direct mail.

This widespread misunderstanding about how Millennials perceive and use political direct mail is understandable. After all, social media has proven pivotal in bringing out Millennials to vote, most notably during the 2008 presidential campaign, whennearly two million voters under age 30 turned out.During the 2012 presidential election, the winning campaign deployed a digital strategy that’s often credited as instrumental in the successful bid to secure the White House for another four years.

But the USPS-AAPC research upends popular assumptions about how Millennials perceive the value of social media versus direct political mail. The truth is that direct mail is exerting more influence than previously believed. Political mail delivered to the mailbox spurs conversations, spreads into social media and, yes, even encourages Millennials to step into the polling booth and vote for a candidate. 

This special attention toward young voters is well warranted. In the most competitive states this year, voters under age 30 are expected to represent an estimated 20 percent of the electorate. That’s why USPS and AAPC, in conducting this research, have also begun to educate each other about innovative approaches available for reaching Millennials through political mail.

USPS Millennialsinfographic 1400w

Here are key data points about Millennials from the survey:

  • 42 percent prefer direct mail political ads over online ads, with 38 percent favoring both equally (and the remaining 20 percent favoring online over mail). 
  • They’re more than twice as likely as non-Millennials to thoroughly read political mail (40 percent versus 18 percent).

 

  • 78 percent discuss political mail with others, compared to 63 percent for non-Millennials.
  • 66 percent are likely to research the candidate touted in political direct mail, with 54 percent visiting that candidate’s website.
  • 82 percent find political mail “important” for state elections and 80 percent for local ones, more so than with national races (76 percent).
  • 75 percent use political mail as a reminder to vote, compared to 58 percent of non-Millennials.
  • 57 percent say political mail helps them make a decision how to vote, compared to 54 percent of non-Millennials.

Evidence is mounting on the powerful impact hard-copy mailing has on a Millennial audience -- whether for politics or selling products. AGallup Poll performed last year concluded that 36 percent of Millennials are eager to check their mailbox on a daily basis, and a 2014 USPS Household Diary Study found that 41 percent of 22-24 year-olds and 37 percent of 25-34 year-olds immediately read mail sent to their house.

The top must-dos for cracking the code on political mail directed at Millennial voters, then, are as follows:

  1. Keep text short, with simple words, sentences and paragraphs.
  1. Design materials that are graphically appealing, with large fonts, bold-face lettering, bullets and high-contrast colors.
  1. Present images of candidates in candid, real-life shots rather than in posed or staged scenarios.
  1. Clearly attribute quotes and third-party information to sources.
  1. Refer readers to websites and social media to deepen engagement.
  1. Leverage humor and pop-culture references to arouse curiosity.
  1. Issue an explicit call to action, such as inviting young voters to share information with family and friends.

So whatever candidate you’re fielding – whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, man or woman, young or old – a winning vote may be just a mailbox away.

#     #     #

Elena Neely is the National Lead for the U.S. Postal Service® Political Mail Outreach efforts.  Elena mobilizes a national team of specialists who consult with and support political campaigns, campaign strategists and political alliance mailing partners.  She manages USPS® strategic sponsorships with political associations and coordinates marketing and sales efforts to support the use of political mail.  The U.S. Postal Service helps political campaigns identify winning media combinations to Deliver The Win™ for their campaigns. 

Reach out to us or read the full Millennial white paper here: www.deliverthewin.com.  Follow Elena at www.linkedin.com/in/elenaneely.

Winning Political Elections with Postcards

 Winning Political Elections with Postcards
3 Simple Steps to Success and a New Job (or another stint in your current one!) 
By Joy Gendusa This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You call it “campaigning.” I call it “marketing.” Either way, we’re talking about the same thing: getting the word out and generating real-life results. In your case, those results are votes, and you don’t have the luxury of a long-term business plan. You need your marketing to work right from the very start, with minimal (or NO) trial and error. This time crunch sets political campaigning apart from commercial marketing and makes postcard marketing the perfect fit

 

Here’s why: Postcard marketing is proven to get results. Simple as that. I’ve worked with over 63,169 businesses and hundreds of political campaigns, so I have the hard data to back up that claim, too.

 

Since time is of the essence in your situation, I’m going to introduce you to what I call the “Big Three” of postcard marketing. Execute these three correctly with your mailings, and you can start putting votes in the bank.

 

Let’s get to it.

 

#1: POSTCARD SIZE  

With direct mail (and most marketing strategies in general), you follow a set pattern: attract attention, generate interest, and call to action. A couple different factors go into the “attract attention” part, but by far the most important is the size of the postcard. A larger postcard is easier to see and as a result, it captures more attention. If you mail a larger card, more people will notice it, and more people will read it, which increases your chances of turning them from “maybes” to “yeses.”

 

Your vendor should provide you with options for the size of your postcard. If they don’t, find someone else. Standard sizes include: Small (4x6), Medium (6x8), and Large (6x11). The size you need can be decided by answering these questions: 

    1. What kind of marketing volume is there amongst the candidates in your race?
      a. Not much (Lucky you! You can lean towards a smaller card.)
      b. Light to Moderate Amount (Probably a medium card is your best bet.)
      c. Moderate to Heavy Amount (Definitely spring for a large card.)
    2. Do the other candidates also mail postcards?
      a. No (You can lean towards a smaller card.)
      b. Yes (You need a large card.)
    3. How well do the voters know you?
      a. Not at all, really (Definitely go large! You need space to introduce yourself.)
      b.. A little background info (Medium should do the trick)
      c. I’m “the man” in my district (Small reminder cards could work.)

For MOST of you, the answers were probably: B, B, A. Based on that, I strongly recommend a large postcard. You simply don’t do yourself any favors by taking a shortcut here. You need the maximum impact from your cards, so you need to put yourself in the best position to succeed.

 

#2: POSTCARD DESIGN

You don’t have the time (or probably resources) to waste a mailing. There are ten design elements that MUST be on your card to ensure success the first time:

 

    1. Clear Headline 
    2. Supporting Graphic 
    3. Color that Pops 
    4. Intriguing Sub-Headings on the back that lead into benefits 
    5. Benefits! 
    6. Enticing Offer 
    7. Your Name and Logo 
    8. Call-to-Action 
    9. Contact Information – website, phone number
    10. Return Address

The first three elements handle the “attention grabbing” portion of the interchange. This is where your reader decides whether or not to continue reading the postcard. If these elements fail to get and keep attention, you’re pretty much toast. Ensure headlines are crystal clear and of interest to the voting public.

 

Elements 4, 5, and 6 convince the reader to take the action you want them to take. (i.e. vote for you, sign up for your newsletter, etc.) Sub-headings must pull the reader into the body copy, which MUST be packed with voter-related benefits. They need to clearly understand and visualize how life would be better with you in office. And not the general population’s life – THEIR life. Then you can seal the deal with an offer for free campaign gear or updates, etc.

 

Elements 7-10 give the reader the information they need to respond appropriately. Note that element number 8, the call to action, is especially important. You have to tell people exactly what to do next, or they will simply do nothing.

 

#3: MAILING LIST

 

So those first two sounded important, right? They are. But #3 is the MOST important. A great mailing list will produce fantastic results even with a so-so postcard design. A bad mailing list is guaranteed to ruin even the most perfect design.

 

In order to find the right mailing list, you need to identify who your “ideal voters” are. Are they independent-leaning democrats? Housewives? Successful business people? Under-30s? Over-60s? Whatever your ideal voting bloc (or blocs), those are the people you want on your mailing list. No more, no less. The specificity you can get with mailing lists is incredible, too; don’t be afraid to get specific.

 

PRO TIP: Targeting specific voting blocs with a postcard that caters to their specific interest is the absolute best way to promote your candidacy. Come to people on their terms, talking about their interests (and how those things relate to YOU).

 

If you want to win, be sure you nail the Big Three with your mailings. Check out these case studies of campaigns that won with postcards for inspiration. Then, go write your own success story! Good luck!

 

Joy Gendusa is the Founder and CEO of PostcardMania, a fully-integrated marketing firm specializing in direct mail. She used postcards to grow PostcardMania from just a phone and computer to a $22million enterprise in less than a decade. Connect with Joy on Google+.

 

You can download real political marketing campaigns and see their successful actions for yourself absolutely free by visiting www.postcardmania.com/go/political

 

Google and Direct Mail Marketing to Win Your Election

How to Integrate Google and Direct Mail Marketing to Win Your Election  
by: Sarah Kicinski, PostcardMania

Political marketing is about building name recognition and trust. In our modern, technology-infused society, you need to make use of both print and online resources to accomplish these goals with the best results possible (i.e. VICTORY!).  

So, how do you integrate these two marketing mediums to work in concert with one another?  

It’s actually easier than you may think, and you will be blown away by the results. Let’s remember our two goals: name recognition and trust building. Studies show that both are accomplished by prolonged or repetitive exposure. Your marketing foundation starts with consistent, regular postcard marketing campaigns to continually expose voters to your name, picture, and key information. Then, you can use your website to reinforce your print marketing and follow-up with online visitors.  

Here are 3 steps to integrating your direct mail and online marketing:

1. Use postcards to increase awareness and drive voters to your website

For the same reason political candidates use signs, you should also be using postcard marketing. You want voters to be aware of your candidacy. Direct mail allows you to use targeted mailing lists, so you only mail to the demographics your campaign strategy requires. Mailing postcard campaigns regularly and consistently is guaranteed to build your name recognition, and the laws of marketing say that the more someone sees your name and face, the more likely they are going to be to choose you. Not only will it build your awareness, it will also point voters to your website, where they can learn more about you and your positions on the issues. The more they get to know you, the more trust is built.

2. Include a Blog in Your Website

Speaking of building trust, nothing does it better than a blog. I know political campaigns are incredibly busy, but even posting a quick blog once a week or once a month as a newsletter will go a long way to helping voters connect with you. Connecting with your prospective constituents is critical. You aren’t going to be able to meet every voter in your district, but adding a blog helps voters feel like they have met you. Readers make a more personal connection, and this builds their trust in you.

3. Enable Google Remarketing to follow-up with website visitors

Now that you have a name building foundation from postcard marketing, and a trust building website (complete with blog), you have to add the last piece of the marketing puzzle. It’s called Google Remarketing, and it is an invaluable marketing tool for any politician, aspiring or incumbent, because it automatically follows up with every visitor your website receives.

Basically, once you add the Google Remarketing web code into your website, it tracks every visitor to your website. Start by adding a downloadable report to your site that gives your visitors more details about your vision for your district. Then, Google will track whether or not visitors download that report. If they do not, it will show them targeted ads anywhere they go within Google’s Display Network until they return and do so. Google’s Display Network includes high traffic websites like Dictionary.com and CNN.com. The best part is you only pay if they click on your ad, so you could potentially get hundreds of views and exposure absolutely FREE.

Between your direct mail foundation, your trust building website, and your automatic online follow-up, you have an integrated marketing system that will be highly effective. Direct mail and online mediums compliment each other perfectly and can deliver that victory you are working so hard to achieve.

Need help putting together your integrated marketing system? We would love to take care of it for you! Visit our website at www.postcardmania.com or call us at 1-866-803-2421.

Get everything you need to know to launch a successful marketing campaign, download a free report.

Creating Legislative Newsletters

 Creating Legislative Newsletters That Tell your Story

Solid blocks of small print copy,headed with one or two word titles like Education or Fiscal Responsibility that only reveal the source s ability to spell correctly...tiny,inanimate grip-n-grin photos that convey no real impression of the sources personality...copy filled with government jargon and double-speak the average citizen can't decipher let alone understand. I grind my teeth and want to scream.It is as though once in office every word uttered has become important and the audience is supposed to not mind being made to work...and work hard to get the message. One of my own elected representatives recently sent me such a newsletter. It was so bad, I sent a note that said: If you paid professionals to create this newsletter, they stole your money and should be sued for gross malpractice;if it was done in-house,you need professional help.

As a professional print communicator of considerable experience and some expertise, I offer the following seven points for making your next legislative newsletter the positive communications vehicle it should be.

1.Put the essential message(s) into the headlines and visual images.Advertising research has consistently shown that 4 out of 5 readers don t read the copy. As they peruse your newsletter,they scan the headlines and look at the photos and other visual images. If your message is hidden in a block of gray 8-point copy,you re missing 80%of the audience. If you have the secret to eternal life or a guaranteed winning lottery number buried in the copy only 1 in 5 readers have a chance to find it.

2.Prioritize accomplishments and feature only the most important.You can t cover everything. Be selective and informative on the strongest topics.In choosing what to cover,less is always more.It is better to discuss 3-4 topics in some depth than to touch on a dozen or so. In a 4-page newsletter (11 x 17 folded to 8.5 x 11),you should choose an absolute maximum of 5-6 points. Resist the temptation to include something for everyone and to fill every bit of space. You really don t have something compelling to say to everyone,so play to your strengths.White space can actually improve the readability of your piece.

3.Headlines and subheads should make statements, not just label topics. If 80%of the readers will not read beyond the headlines,you had better say something in the headlines. Instead of labeling a block of copy Education,say Councilman Smith fighting to reduce class sizes.Instead of titling a section Fiscal Responsibility, try Councilwoman Jones holds hearing on Housing Department spending.

4.Select photographs that convey impressions of the source,not that just memorialize events.Expressive photographs can send valuable non-verbal messages about the source. They can demonstrate accessibility,verify involvement and hard work,and illustrate commonalities of interest.These are all elements in answering constituents most important questions about their elected officials:Would I like this person? Would she understand my concerns? Would he listen to my point of view? A few well chosen interactive photos can do more to answer these questions affirmatively than volumes of print copy.

5.Caption your photos with informational copy. After only headlines and visual images, research shows that photo captions are read more than body copy.Identify the subjects in the photograph and describe the activity.

6.Minimize the use of jargon, acronyms and government-ese. Those working in government routinely use acronyms and jargons to refer to a myriad of programs and departments,but the average citizen can be baffled by the liberal use of terms like DoITT,OCME, MARC,ACS and DOH in constituent communications.If you must use acronyms,follow the rule in journalistic style books.Use the full name in the first reference,eg.Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication (DoITT),before using the acronym by itself.If there is any doubt in your mind that a term or phrase is not in common everyday usage by regular folks,don t assume...reword or explain.

7.Edit,edit,edit.After you have written the copy for your newsletter,your work is only half done.Go back and simplify wording wherever ossible,brutally eliminate unnecessary language,make certain every sentence is clear and declarative.Give a copy to someone who has not been involved in the writing and ask them to make editing suggestions. Current or former English teachers can usually be helpful as long as they aren t inflexible on selective and occasional colloquial language and usage. Read the copy out loud.Listen to the way it sounds.It should sound conversational.If you have trouble with a sentence or a phrase,change it. Following these recommendations will not dramatically increase detailed newsletter readership or guarantee your re-election.It will help you achieve the most important objective of all constituent communications...to get your message across to the people.Remember your message is not really about he copy or the photos or the graphic design. Message is he information and impressions your newsletter readers take away from the experience. Adhering to he seven points made here will take that experience easier and more informative for your constituents.