One Thing Politicians Are Getting Right That ALL Businesses Can Learn From…

By: Dan Kennedy on: September 4th, 2012 7 Comments

As we draw closer to the presidential election, I’d like to talk about one thing that politicians are doing right.

A big part of politics and political campaigns, of course, is the marketing of your policies and the causes you believe in.

If you can’t persuade voters to your point of view, you will either lose or get nothing done.

So what are politicians doing right?

They are using direct mail.  And LOTS of it.

According to Borrell Associates, spending on political direct-mail in 2012 will top $288 million, an increase of 11.6 percent from 2008.

More than in past elections, political direct-mail is integrating things like QR (quick response) codes and social media links. Candidates are doing things such as including a QR code with a link to a video with a special message from the candidate. Or sending a postcard that drives voters to a website that focuses on an issue they care about.

For example, GKIC member and WV House of Delegate member Tim Miley created a campaign around  an “anti-texting while driving” law that he was instrumental in getting through the House Judiciary Committee. Creating a dedicated  to explain what the law means and the consequences of breaking it, he then wrote a letter to voters in his county.

In the letter, he pledged a $1000 donation to help one of the police departments in the county. Enclosing a ballot asking people to vote for their favorite police department, he then gave them the option to go to the website to vote, email their vote, mail their vote in or fax their vote. (An interesting side note is that more than twice as many voters mailed their ballot back—using their own stamp).

Interesting, because as you know from all the media, the trend in first class mail volume was down in 2011…

Giving the impression that mail is dying.

However, what the media fails to tell you is that direct-mail for commercial purposes is up 3%. (Target Marketing 12/11)

And investment in direct-mail for advertising purposes rose by 5.8%, from 2010 to 2011, encompassing $48 Billion according to

Yes, during a recession, spending on direct-mail rose. Keep in mind that huge numbers of dumb companies are cutting back and switching to online media, so to create this increase, the remaining users of direct-mail had to DRAMATICALLY increase usage.

A member who is on a number of lists reported that she no longer is receiving direct mail from some of the major mailers—even companies that teach how to use direct mail!

Nothing is as consistent as Direct Mail. It drives more money. Develops more customers. However, to be fair, I will say it does this by integrating with other media, as is the case with the political direct-mail.

Some fortune-making facts you need to know about what’s happening with direct mail right now are:

  • 50% of Consumers say they pay more attention to postal mail than e-mail. – Epsilon Channel Preference Study,

That means if you insist on communicating entirely or mostly with email and neglect use of direct mail, you may very well miss HALF the sales opportunities of any given campaign or within your list.

  • 60% of Consumers say they enjoy checking their mailbox and receiving mail. – Epsilon

This research indicates there is positive emotional pay-off to consumers in finding letters and other direct-mail that matches their interests in their mailbox, and further, that the opening of “fresh” mail and discovery of interesting information and offers is an activity they look forward to! Against this, consider that 65% say they receive too many e-mails everyday to open them all. – Epsilon

A fast-growing percentage of people express frustration and RESENTMENT at e-mail marketing, even from sources they have a good relationship with.  E-Commerce Alliance Research.  The preference for direct-mail even extends to 18-34 age group. – Epsilon

  • 98% of consumers retrieve their mail from the mailbox the day it is delivered, and 77% sort through it that same day.USPS data, reported in DM News 2/11
  • Tangible materials such as direct-mail trigger a much deeper level of emotional processing and generate more activity in the area of the brain associated with integration of visual and spatial information than any other media. This deeper emotional processing better imbeds the images and ideas in the memories of test subjects. “Using Neuroscience To Understand The Role of Direct-Mail”, from the study by Bangor University and Millward Brown.  In other words, people tend to act on and remember direct mail more than they do with email.
  • “For the typical American household these days, nearly 2 months will pass between times a personal letter shows up in the mail.” USPS/Associated Press  (Gee, d ‘ya think that just gives your personal sales letter an enhanced opportunity?)
  • “NOTHING out-performs direct-mail for new donor acquisition. Non-profits wish that social media, web sites, e-mail, etc. could do this job as well, but so far, extensive experimenting by the entire non-profit world has failed to come up with any way to survive and grow without relying on direct-mail.” NP Economic Research.

So while businesses are cutting direct-mail, even the World’s Largest E-Commerce Event, Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, sold the event by using a 32-page direct-mail piece. And Google uses direct-mail to sell its pay per click and Google Places advertising media.

If one is not willfully blind to reality, they can see that even peddlers of e-commerce and online advertising and marketing MUST rely on direct-mail for THEIR income. If this fact does not COMPEL an entrepreneur to prioritize mastery and successful use of direct mail as his own business builder, I can’t imagine what other evidence would be convincing.

Perhaps to believe murder existed, the denier would have to, himself, be killed. To deny the vital importance of direct-mail in fortune-making by marketing is to deny concrete fact.

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    Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to

    7 Responses

    1. Hey Dan,

      What terrific insight you’ve shared here – my pupils shape shifted into dollar signs when you mentioned the stat that the average home goes 2 months between receipt of personal mailings – whereas most people go less than 2 minutes between “irritating-even-though-I-know-I-signed-up-for-this-crap” emails.

      (I know that’s how I get sometimes, and to be fair, I use email marketing myself – though not exclusively.)

      Many marketers believe that direct mail is just way too expensive – when I speak to clients who believe this to be the case, I like to share your quote about it being like bad sex. It makes the point QUITE effectively. (What does it mean when they don’t laugh? Hahah)

      But when I talk about the profits that could have been, from time already spent without employing direct mail – they see how much MORE it’s cost them not to be implementing direct mail as part of their strategy.

      Anyway, thanks again for the great post and all the wisdom you share.


      • Mike Stodola Admin says:

        Marc – you’ve got it exactly right. Keep up the great work!

    2. Proud to be part of the trend for increased direct mail spending during the recession!

    3. I always love a solid think piece. This is the type of stuff I’m aiming to bring to my blog. Cheers.

    4. thank u for the update

    5. I also have been waiting since feb13th in AP and only had my status date updated to may 10th. Could you share if you had a positive response since the update and if it meant anything positive?

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