For decades, direct mail has been the workhorse of grassroots political fundraising. And judging by what's appeared so far in this election cycle, it's not going to be put out to pasture any time soon. Surveys, membership cards, photos and letters from rockstar politicians have dominated the 2012 mailstream because they all still work well.
But new to the mix this time around are posters and palm cards, tactics adapted from the world of door-to-door campaigning. Let's take a look at how each one has been used by the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns to augment their fundraising efforts.
The Mailer Is A Poster
Here's proof that you don't need an envelope to mail a fundraising appeal. Just take a piece of heavy stock paper, fold it into thirds, insert your letter, reply form, and reply envelope, then seal the open edge with spot glue. There's your carrier. Only a few fundraisers have used this type of piece, none of them a national political organization, until Obama for America did so this past April.
Measuring 6"x11-1/2" when mailed, the poster graphic covers the inside panels, opening to 16-3/4"x11-1/2." Underneath the headline "CHANGE IS," a stylized headshot of President Barack Obama dominates, similar to the iconic poster created in 2008 by Shepard Fairey. Beneath that is a list in reversed-out white type: "1/29/2009 EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK 3/30/2009 SAVING THE US AUTO INDUSTRY 5/22/2009 CREDIT CARD REFORM 10/28/2009 HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT 3/23/2010 AFFORDABLE CARE ACT 3/30/2010 ... 12/18/2011 ENDING THE WAR IN IRAQ"
The 3-page letter asks the supporter to remember how he felt on Election Night 2008, and warns that "all the accomplishments you see on the enclosed poster ... will be at risk if we lose" in 2012. "Please continue to stand with us," it pleads.
Conversely, the Romney for President campaign poster dropped in July, and unlike its Democratic counterpart, the outer is more personal, with a collage of Romney snapshots on the opposite side of the address panel. Once unfolded, the poster revealed is very plain, with "Romney For President" in white letters set against a blue background, accompanied only by the campaign's website address.
The 4-page letter is his boilerplate "I believe in America" fundraising appeal, but mentions the poster only once before the P.S.: "Please help me restore the promise of America by displaying the enclosed poster and letting people know where you stand in this historic election year."