Political Direct Mail Examples - How To Evaluate Campaign Mail

by Sophie Thurber (She/Her)

Political direct mail - woman looking at document

Political Direct Mail Examples: 7 Questions to Ask Reviewing Mail Samples

Political direct mail, even in the digital age is a critical part of any campaign’s communications program. Not only is it cost-effective and efficient, but it is also an impactful way to target and communicate with potential voters. Therefore, when hiring a Democratic direct mail firm, you want to make sure you choose the firm that will produce the best product for your campaign. 

The hiring process for a direct mail firm generally involves examining a set of the firm’s direct mail samples from past campaigns. Obviously, it’s important to review a mail firm’s proposal carefully to make sure that they have experience in similar campaigns and that they would be a strong strategic partner. However, it’s also important to take a close look at their direct mail samples. The political direct mail a firm has produced for past campaigns can tell you a lot. Here are a few questions you should run through as you review any direct mail samples:

1. Does the mail catch your eye?
This is a fairly straightforward piece of the puzzle. Almost every day, each potential voter is receiving countless pieces of mail. What more, during election season, you very well might be competing against other pieces of political direct mail in each mailbox. Therefore, you want to make sure your political direct mail firm will produce pieces that voters won’t just glaze over. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential voter receiving the piece of mail. Does the sample pique your interest? Do you want to read more? Does it look like the direct mail firm that produced it took the time to customize it, or could it be any candidate or cause in any state?

2. What does the paper stock feel like?
There are copious paper stock options out there, and the cheapest often feel that way. While you don’t need the most expensive paper, a cheap, flimsy stock won’t hold up well in the mail—what’s more, your print work won’t look as good on it. A good Democratic mail firm will pay attention to paper stock, and you should too.

3. Do the colors look vibrant?
The colors are another indicator of quality when it comes to political direct mail. If sample mailers look muted and flat, you should think twice about hiring the firm that produced them. You’ve only got a few seconds to catch someone’s attention at the mailbox, and poor color management in the printing process will leave you at a disadvantage.

4. Do the photos look original?
Even if your political direct mail will rely on stock photography, the quality of the images should be something you look out for. Not all stock photography is created equal. The images in your political direct mail will be a reader’s first impressions—if the photos scream “generic stock,” you immediately provide a reason for skepticism. Photos are important, and a direct mail firm’s choices should reflect that fact.

5. Is there a clear message?
We’ve already mentioned it a couple times, but it’s so important that it bears repeating—with any piece of political direct mail, you only have a few seconds to catch the reader’s attention. Therefore, you want to make sure that your political direct mail firm has found a way to make the core message of the piece immediately clear. Give yourself five seconds to look at the piece. Within that time, are you able to understand what the purpose of the piece is? Or do you have to really look over it to find out what the point of the piece is? If that latter is true, you may want to consider a different direct mail firm. 

6. Is the text readable?
Though this one may seem obvious, it’s just as important—make sure the political direct mail samples are readable. This means the piece isn’t cluttered with copy and there is plenty of white space on the page. Additionally, body copy should only be a few sentences long, with clear and bold headlines. It also means that the font sizes should be large enough for an older voter to read. And of course, the mailer should be typo-free.

7. Does the style of the piece match the campaign’s brand?
Last but not least, you want to make sure that the political direct mail reflects the campaign and race. Look to see if the candidate has a solid website. If so, does the direct mail piece, match the feel of the rest of the campaign? You want to make sure your political direct mail firm is able to create a piece that isn’t designed in a silo and fits in with the rest of the campaign. 

Political direct mail is a useful voter communication tactic, so it’s important to put your best foot forward. Hiring a direct mail consultant involves many factors, but you should always make sure that their work product is up to scratch.