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Mapping Your Mail Piece
Drafting a campaign mail piece seems like a simple enough task, but here at SpeakEasy, we’ve learned from our collective experience that there’s a right and a wrong way to do it. The right way will successfully introduce you to voters – increasing your name recognition, and communicating your values and aspirations for the office you’re seeking.
This handy breakdown of the essential pieces that make up a campaign mailer will show you the best practices for creating a compelling piece of collateral that effectively engages your constituents within USPS guidelines for postcards, and within the laws that govern political campaign messaging.
1. CALL TO ACTION (CTA): This is arguably the most important piece of any marketing product – the direct action you want people to take from being persuaded by your message. Make sure this is communicated boldly on the front of your piece.
2. HEADSHOT: Your photograph should portray you as approachable and responsible. Make sure your photo file is high quality (300+ dpi) to ensure a crisp image in printing. See our advice for taking great campaign photos.
3. ELECTION DATE REMINDER (FRONT): Make sure your constituency knows your election date! This is especially important for primaries, off-cycle years, and other elections that don’t coincide with a presidential or midterm election.
4. VOTING INSTRUCTIONS: As we fight to expand access to the vote, make sure your constituents know polling hours and mail-in ballot instructions.
5. POLLING PLACE LOCATION: Voter turnout is key, especially for Democrats, so helping your constituents find their local polling place is essential. If your voters are turned away for arriving at the wrong location, or fall victim to misinformation tactics designed to suppress the vote, they may not have time to get to the polls to support you!
6. RETURN ADDRESS & UNION BUG: Check the guidelines for your specific race. Often, your return address needs to match the address on your filing paperwork, by law. The “union bug” is the stamp you see on a mail piece that proves you used a union printer and mail house.
7. MAIL PANEL: This is where your addressee information will be printed by the mail house. USPS has strict guidelines about where the mail panel is located on a postcard, and what size it must be, or they can refuse to process your piece. All of SpeakEasy’s self-serve templates abide by USPS rules.
8. STAMP PANEL/INDICIA: This is the required location for a stamp or indicia, according to the USPS. An indicia is the printed permit information a printer or mail house will use to certify to the USPS that this piece of mail has been paid for.
9. CALL BACK CTA: This is the most important part of your message! Make sure it is featured on both sides of your mail piece.
10. BIO TEXT: One of the benefits of direct mail is that it allows more space to tell your story and communicate your values than a digital ad. Talk about your roots in the community you want to represent, your qualifying experience, and the things you want to accomplish for your voters. This is also a great place to note endorsements from unions, other representatives, and community groups.
Pro-Tip: The amount of space provided by a piece of direct mail can often tempt you to fill it with as much information as possible. Remember that the space you don’t use is just as important. Keeping paragraphs short and breaking up information with numbered lists or bullet points will make sure your words “pop” and stay in the reader’s memory. Giant blocks of unbroken text are tiring to the eye, and often go unread. Text should be easily scannable, not crowded or busy. Give your words room to breathe!
11. PERSONALITY PHOTO: This is any photo, besides your headshot, that communicates your approachability and sense of community, and ideally features you interacting with others. It might be a photo with your family or an action shot of you serving your community. It reminds voters that you are a real person with ties to the people and places that you care about.
12. CAMPAIGN URL: Make sure that your website is all set up and populated with more information about you, your background, your aspirations for office and your political and personal values. This should be one of the first things you do when you file for office!
13. FINANCIAL DISCLAIMER: This is absolutely crucial and must be reported to the very letter of the law. You do not want to find yourself on the wrong side of election finance guidelines, so make sure you check the exact specifications that your election requires. This will include the name of the entity paying for your mail piece, the registered address of that entity, and even the size of font that this information must appear in.
14. PHOTO SUBTITLE: Provide context for your Personality Photo! Details like your family’s names, a group that you’re volunteering with, or a location that is specific to your district all add a personal touch that can make you more accessible to your voters.
15. POLLING DATE/PLACE CALL BACK: All of the information and messaging you’ve shared on your mail piece won’t help if voters don’t know where and when to vote for you! The most essential goal of any campaign communication is to get your voters to the polls.
These are just some of the basic components of how to lay out a compelling and memorable piece of direct mail for a political campaign. All of SpeakEasy’s Direct Mail Templates have been tested and designed by artists and campaign professionals with years of political experience. We know what works and how to make your mail stand out from the stack!
If you have any questions, or want to learn more about how we can help you use direct mail to achieve your campaign goals, our team is standing by to help! You can schedule a call with one of our campaign professionals, or reach out to us at [email protected]!
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