How to Write a Winning Mail Plan

How to Write a Winning Mail Plan
March 12, 2019
Randy Kammerdiener

A recent USPS study reported mail was considered the most credible source of political outreach, coming in at 68% and outranking TV ads at 59%.

Direct mail remains a valuable medium today and key to delivering your message with the needed repetition to create recall and results at the ballot box.

In today’s #StrategySession, Randy Kammerdiener shares his advice on how to write a winning general election mail plan.

Identify Those You Need to Communicate With and Those You Don’t
Data and analytical insights are key to identifying those voters you need to communicate with and those you don’t. The first step in creating a winning mail plan is determining who the likely voters are, those you want to turn out, and those you don’t need to communicate with, like “Strong Republicans” or “Strong Democrats” in a general election.

Targeting will vary slightly in presidential and non-presidential election years, but those voters you wanted to communicate with will typically be those “swing” voters who voted in some combination of the last couple of general elections or are newly registered for the current election.

Divide Into Subset Groups
Once you have identified voters with whom you want to communicate, break them into subset groups. Those subsets may be based on partisanship, issue preferences, demographic characteristics or physical geography, including:

No TV DMAs
In larger statewide and congressional campaigns, there are often media markets where no broadcast TV advertising is purchased, creating a subset of voters who need to be reached by the campaign.

Soft D+I
This is a common subset for state legislative and local campaigns.

GOP
Early voting and GOTV mail is often mailed to this very Republican subset.

Social Conservatives
This subset of voters receives messages on life and values.

Guns
Identified pro-2nd Amendment voters create another issue-based subset of voters to reach with a specific message on hunting and gun rights.

Fiscal Conservatives
This subset of voters can be targeted with messages on taxes and government spending.

Seniors
A message on Social Security and/or Medicare can be targeted to a subset of senior voters, typically those aged 60 or older.

Determine the Number of Pieces of Mail Your Message Needs
Determine how many pieces of mail you need to drive a message for each of the subset groups. This can vary widely based on the race itself as well as the budget. The “Soft D+I” subset will typically see more mail than the rest, but regardless of the level of race, tighter subsets like Social Conservatives, Guns, and Seniors benefit from seeing mail at least twice. Broader subsets typically are mailed two to six times; at least three mail pieces is our recommendation.

Work Backwards to Calculate Drop Dates
Determine when you want each group to receive their mail by starting with Election Day and working your way back to calculate ideal drop dates. The last drop date is typically the Monday of the week before the election when the election is on a Tuesday. Additional drop dates are at least one day apart and often two to three days apart.

In those states with a large volume of early voting or absentee voting by mail, each drop is split in two, with the first drop targeting the portion of the universe with a recent history of voting early or by absentee. The second drop targets the portion of the universe that typically votes on Election Day. That places the first of the two drops approximately 7 to 10 days before the Election Day drop.

Strengthen Your Message
Finally, use polling and research to determine the message you want to deliver to each subset group.