“Location is everything” doesn’t just apply to real estate. Reaching citizens with campaign information requires you to be visible wherever voters are.
A Pew Research Center survey found that the people most likely to participate in their state’s primary or caucus get information on candidates and issues from multiple sources. And an important channel is, of course, your own campaign communication and political marketing.
While candidates for federal offices have huge campaign funds to finance major spending on promotion, events and advertising — $7 billion was spent in the 2012 Presidential contest — most contenders for down-ballot seats have smaller budgets and must focus on getting the best return on their campaign marketing investment.
Luckily, you don’t have to have an enormous fundraising operation to run a strong race. These affordable products help you succeed:
1. Campaign Yard Signs
No run for office is complete without political yard signs, which build and reinforce name recognition. They also serve as a public recommendation — lawns full of your signs illustrate how widely you’re endorsed. Deploy volunteers who want to be more active to station campaign signs strategically around your district.
Political Yard Signs Design: Since most people will see your signs from moving vehicles — with about 3 seconds to read them — it’s crucial to design for easy comprehension. Your name should be the most visible element in a font that’s clear and easy to read. In smaller letters, you can include a call to action, like “vote” or “re-elect” or a tagline or slogan.
Tips: Limit your colors to two or three so readers aren’t distracted from the most important message: your name. Test potential designs by standing 30’–50’ away and seeing if the sign is readable.
Campaign Sign Laws: There are plenty of laws and rules regulating campaign sign placement, which differ from state to state and sometimes county to county. These standards dictate where and when you can place campaign signs, and there can be penalties if you don’t comply. Before ordering signs, review the rules from your state and county boards of elections. There are few rules about property owners placing signs in their own yards, though some homeowners associations may have limits on how many can be deployed.
2. Political Campaign Posters & Banners
Political posters and banners are critical for rallies, events and other public appearances. Posters are terrific giveaways to donors and volunteers. Banners are useful as temporary signage for local campaign headquarters.
Campaign Poster & Banner Design: Design considerations for these products are the same as for campaign yard signs: easily recognizable and readable, and reflecting your signature colors. Because they’re inexpensive, you can create posters and banners with your tagline or slogan, or to target your stances on particular issues. Choose a slightly rigid stock for posters so supporters can wave them at rallies and events.
Tips: Create posters that double as visual content for your digital campaign marketing, too.
Political Campaign Poster Rules: There are campaign and municipal rules about when and where you can post “bills.” Check with the boards of elections and local municipalities to understand the regulations that apply to your local campaign.
3. Local Campaign Swag
Swag serves two purposes in your campaign marketing strategy: it’s an affordable premium for donors and supporters and it’s another opportunity for people to show their support. Providing something of value — emotional or functional — is the key to getting recipients to use the item and share your message.
Tip: Choose products that are relevant to your voters and appropriate for your campaign.
Campaign Swag Ideas: Campaign buttons, T-Shirts, water bottles, mugs and bumper stickers are tried-and-true giveaways that don’t disappoint, but campaigns are getting more creative with swag every election cycle. The trucker hat is a hot campaign promotional item, but that’s just one of the many options. Aprons, polo shirts, baby bibs and other apparel are also popular.
4. Political Direct Mail
Campaign mailers are one of the best ways to get your name and message to the citizenry. Almost every household has a mailbox that’s checked daily, and campaign software makes it easy to target likely voters, new registrants and past supporters. Your campaign marketing strategy should include several layers, including postcards, trifold brochures and letters to introduce yourself to newly registered voters, seek volunteers and financial contributions from past supporters, announce events and important endorsements, and remind people to vote.
Campaign Direct Mail Design: Direct mail pieces need to inspire people in a flash since most recipients spend less than 20 seconds looking at them. Some people only peruse the photo, name, headline and slogan/call to action, which takes less than 4 seconds; others spend up to 20 seconds reviewing additional copy. True “readers” seek more information and absorb the entire document.
Tips: Work with an experienced designer or use a political campaign mailer template to design postcards, trifolds and envelopes that deliver the important information immediately and effectively. Campaign letters should be formatted for skimming with strategic use of bold text to help readers find the information that matters to them.
5. Local Campaign Canvassing Materials
Another effective way to reach voters is old-fashioned door-to-door contact. Residents are impressed when a “private citizen” cares enough about a candidate to spend time walking the neighborhood. Canvassing also puts a local face on your campaign and supports the impact of a personal recommendation. On local races that are still utilizing paper walk sheets, don’t forget to provide clipboards and pens to canvassers so they can make notes or write personal messages on materials. You can even brand those too.
Campaign Canvassing Ideas: Arm canvassers with a variety of campaign marketing materials, such as door hangers, 3” x 5” or 4” x 9” palm cards to leave behind, and a few lightweight promotional items like stickers, bumper stickers or magnets. Endorsement cards are an effective way to show the support you receive from other influencers. Bonus: All these items can also be used at forums and other events.
Tip: Since canvassers carry a lot of stuff, outfit them with campaign-branded tote bags and water bottles.
Blending these campaign communication and political marketing tactics with digital campaign marketing is the best way to get your name in front of voters and to inspire them to check your name on the ballot.
Visit the Staples® Campaign Center at Staples.com/elections for all the marketing materials you need to mount a strong campaign.