Use of Direct-Mail in Presidential Campaigns Provides Marketing Lessons

The 2012 Presidential Election is now over, but remnants of the Romney/Obama slugfest are probably piled up on your kitchen table. Aids to both candidates said each of their respective campaigns spent nearly twice as much on direct-mail fliers and solicitations than on Internet marketing, according to the Washington Post.

There is a simple reason for this — it works. There’s a fine line between effectively using direct mail and overkill, however. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can learn plenty from the candidates’ campaigns when planning and executing their direct-marketing endeavors.

Scope of Direct Marketing

Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee spent more than $100 million on direct mail, while President Obama and the Democratic National Committee spent nearly $70 million, according to the Washington Post. SMEs do not have these kind of bankrolls, but companies like Pitney Bowes offer free consultations and can craft solutions that still effectively reach your target demographic. The two campaigns adopted the philosophy that quantity will trump quality because they had the means to do so. Some Americans were getting upwards of 10 pieces of campaign mail per day, which turns off potential voters and adds to the already over-stuffed round file. One attractive flier that gets straight to the point is far-more effective than 20 poorly conceived mailers.

Creating Your Media

A presidential candidate’s primary goal in direct marketing is to persuade the recipient to vote for him or her. They accomplish this mostly by tearing down the opponent, using uncouth photos of their rival juxtaposed with a dire warning. This same concept can be used in direct-mail marketing for SMEs but with a different approach. Your mailers should include a one-sentence reason explaining why the recipient should become a new customer. There should definitely be some reference to the reason your product is superior, which can be accomplished by positively highlighting your business. Indirectly attack competitors without naming anyone by stating what your company has to offer that the others do not. For example, your auto-repair business offers a 90-day warranty on all work done, while the large corporate repair shops offer no warranty at all.

Old-fashioned Outreach

The Romney campaign spent more money on direct marketing than the Obama campaign because a good majority of the Republican voting base are baby boomers and people over the age of 40. But studies continue to reveal that most Americans, regardless of age, prefer direct-mail solicitations over e-mail. Even if your company is Web-based does not preclude you from using direct marketing to grow your business. Though Internet news and e-books are a growing phenomena, newspapers and bound books will always have a place in the world of mass communication. Direct mail, just like television and radio, is still a medium Americans receive daily and one of which SMEs can take full advantage.

About the Author

Marcus Webley Son of a barber and a florist, Marcus’ parents owned businesses before they met and they combined their shops (which were neighboring each other) to become a pet grooming salon. Marcus owes his creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to his parents and their pug, Bea.

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