Democratic Direct Mail: What Does a Campaign Mail Firm Do?

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)

Democratic Direct Mail: What does a Political Mail Firm Do?

Democratic Direct Mail: Your Questions Answered

What does a campaign mail firm do? Admit it, this is a question that a lot of people have asked but have never gotten a clear answer. Well, never fear; after producing winning Democratic direct mail for over ten years, The Campaign Workshop is here with answers. Your mail firm is an integral part of your campaign’s communication team. They are available to provide you with advice on the best ways to message your campaign, interpret polling data, and formulate your message in order to create a comprehensive theme and strategy for your Democratic direct mail.

Here is an overview of some of the most frequently asked questions about Democratic direct mail firms and what makes winning campaign mail.

Will You Provide General Consulting? Yes. In addition to helping to formulate your message, your Democratic direct mail firm is experienced in the realm of campaign strategy. All mediums (direct mail, field, digital, etc.) inevitably affect each other. Your Democratic direct mail firm should be an important voice in your campaign team and have input on things beyond the scope of direct mail. We will be on weekly campaign calls with the campaign in order to provide guidance on overall strategy, field, fundraising, and a variety of other items that may fall outside the general direct mail wheelhouse.

Will you help formulate campaign messaging & strategy? Yes. Most mail consultants usually started out doing something else, but years of experience in copywriting allows us to distill a message clearly and quickly. This makes mail firms fit to help build a complete campaign strategy and message, as well as build a mail program.

What is a mail program? A political mail program tells a story. It is designed to communicate to an audience over a series of mailers. The goal could be to inform, persuade, engage, or even to engage in two-way communication with tools such as a tear-off reply card.

How do you work with polling, political targeting, and voter data? Democratic direct mail firms have hands-on experience with political micro-targeting and polling. Your mail firm works with data platforms like VoteBuilder VAN or L2 and has long-standing relationships with data vendors. We will be able to both suggest the most effective targets for your mailings as well as physically pull the data for you and send it off to the mail house.

Why is direct mail design important? In addition to copywriting, your Democratic direct mail firm has talented designers on staff who are able to make eye-catching mail that is both creative and engaging. We will find or oversee photoshoots to produce the eye-catching photography that is necessary for every great piece of mail. We will also use color schemes and formats that are appealing to the eye and make the viewer take notice.

Who does the copywriting? Your mail firm is experienced at taking complex, convoluted background briefs and memos and turning them into punchy headlines, subheads, and body copy. The campaign or organization should have conversations with their mail firm about the overall look and feel of a piece, then your mail consultant will choose images and write the copy on a mock-up version of the piece. We are also very cognizant of the amount of text that is needed in order to make sure the viewer actually pays attention to the piece rather than loading each piece full of campaign bullet points or text that is too small to actually read.

Who oversees print production? While it may seem straightforward, managing the physical production of direct mail is one of the most challenging elements that of producing direct mail. Between different paper sizes, weights, colors, mail panel sizes, postal permits, mail tracking methods, and drop dates, this process can become very complex very quickly. Your Democratic direct mail firm has vast experience managing direct mail production and will manage and oversee this entire process for you.

Are you a printer? Direct mail firms are not printers. We have a network of union printers throughout the country we work with. Our focus is strategy, targeting, and design, and we work with printers and mail houses who help us with beautiful quality printing, mail drops, and tracking.

Is my mail union printed? We focus on union printed mail. We work with great union printers and you can see it on each piece we produce both in the quality of printing and a union bug on each piece. 

Who mails the mail? We work with mail houses to sort, organize, and house the data as well as address the mail and drop it at the post office. Mailing is a complicated process and having a good mail house in your corner is really important. Mail firms like us have strong relationships with mailers and printers. 

When should I drop my mail? The timing of mail is really important. Your Democratic direct mail firm will likely suggest dropping your mail around collection points like absentee voting, early vote, and election day.

Why does program organization matter? Campaigns and organizations can tend to have a lot of different things going on at the same time. In addition to producing your direct mail, your Democratic direct mail firm is there to provide you with an organizing voice. They will set up calls, write agendas, and keep you on track in terms of approval deadlines and any other items necessary in order to make sure your mail drops on time and goes to the right people.

What direct mail sizes are best? This depends on your goals. If you are collecting information, a letter package works well. For persuasion, an 8.5 x 11 postcard is great. For pieces that need to hit mailboxes quickly, the most efficient size is 8.5 x 5.5.

Can I use a nonprofit permit? Maybe. If you are an organization that has a nonprofit permit, and you are connecting to members, or if you are a state party sending mail then yes. If you are not an entity like this, then no. If you are unsure, definitely ask an election lawyer.

When should I hire? The earlier the better. Most firms do not charge you more to start an early engagement and it can only help the campaign. Starting earlier allows the consultant more time to formulate a message and strategy in addition to better understanding the campaign.

I have a small race with a small budget can you help?  If you have a small race but still need direct mail design, printing, and mailing, try the folks at SpeakEasy Political. They have templated pieces that can help a small campaign on a tight budget. It’s not the same as a mail program crafted by a campaign consultant, but it can help.

How much does mail cost? We price mailers based on quantity and size. Quantity can be more than one run combined (gang run) which reduces the cost. Hiring a mail consultant to produce your mail will be more expensive than if you just hired a printer. You are paying for strategy, targeting, design, printing, and mailing all with one price.

I need a campaign mail firm can I hire you?  We love working with campaigns, independent expenditures, and organizations. If you need political direct mail, drop us a note, and let’s talk!  You can check out our samples here and read our eBook on direct mail in the digital age.

How do I know your firm is the right fit for my race?  Set up a call to find out. We are happy to chat with you and give you references.

Want to learn more about Democratic direct mail? Check out our political mail glossary for a deeper dive.