Well, the two major parties have just finished their national conventions, but this very strange election year is far from over. For better or for worse.
Over the past four election cycles, I have written about what I’ve seen going on in direct mail and email collected by Who’s Mailing What!
From formats and premiums, and call-to-action (CTA) buttons to subject lines, there’s a lot to review and think about. So far, I’m not seeing anything that’s all that new or different. So, I’ve decided to look at what really drives response in this sector: the copy.
Way back in 1984, the second-ever issue of the print newsletter Who’s Mailing What! featured a critique of Republican efforts by liberal fundraiser Roger Craver.
The first part of his “Dollars For Democracy” article still resonates very strongly in its section “Why People Give to Politics.” (If you’d like, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you a PDF of it in its entirety.)
To summarize his analysis: political direct mail contributors are not the “fat cats” who expect favors or budget earmarks in exchange for money. Rather, they’re what he calls “donors of principle.” These are people who don’t need to be persuaded about the rightness of a candidate, party or issue, but can be motivated to donate by a mailer’s copy and design.
According to Craver, the best direct mail packages are those that include one or more of these factors in how the copy is written:
- a sense of mission or challenge;
- a sense of selectivity, or exclusivity that flatters the recipient;
- a sense of urgent need that gets the contributor to give ASAP; and
- a sense of continuity and effectiveness that acknowledges the power of the opponent, but also reassures victory if a donation is made soon.
In 2016, direct mail is still an effective way to raise money for a political campaign and get people to the polls. But email can take advantage of Craver’s factors 24/7, based on the day’s events in a campaign.
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