Political Campaign Strategy: Giving Something of Value to the Voters

    As I’ve mentioned before, getting voters to hold on to your campaign paraphernalia for more than a few seconds is tough to do; most of it goes directly into the trash after a brief glance. One way to encourage voters to hang on to your stuff a bit longer, though, is by making it valuable to them.

    Obviously, I’m not talking about handing out dollar bills or gift certificates . . . not only is that illegal for a campaign to do, it’s also silly. But you might be able to increase the average lifespan of your campaign literature if you combine it with local sporting event schedules, community pride logos, tutorials or other elements that residents could find useful or interesting.

    Every year, I personally visit every home in my city and drop off a large, glossy door card that has a full-color American flag printed on one side. On the back, I include a brief message asking residents to show their patriotism by displaying the flag prominently somewhere in their home.

    The flag door card that I hand out has been very popular, and many residents display it proudly in their front windows all year long. Neighbors often thank me for taking the time to print out and deliver American flags to the entire city, and it gives me a good feeling to know that I’m promoting patriotism in my community (which is very important to me personally).

    Including something on your campaign literature that residents might want to hang onto is a useful strategy, but be sure that you are genuinely interested in whatever you’re handing out. The American flags are easy for me to distribute, because patriotism is important to me and I truly believe in the message.

    A friend of mine who ran for city council recently used the “item of value” tactic in one of the most effective — and unique — ways that I’ve ever seen. She was the only woman in an at-large race with five candidates, and her campaign’s “story points” included her family and her proud ethnic heritage. She dedicated one full side a door card to sharing one of her favorite ethnic recipes, and included a photo of her family cooking it together.

    Her door card was a huge success, and many residents saved it to make the unique ethnic meal for their own families. The recipe that my friend handed out was something that she genuinely enjoyed, and many voters found value in it. And you can bet that even the people who didn’t keep it still looked at the door card for a few seconds longer to see what the recipe was all about. (If you’re wondering: yes, my friend won her election, and was the top vote-getter in the race.)

    If you decide to add something of value to one of your campaign pieces, make sure that it reinforces your story points and reminds voters about your unique qualities as a candidate. Are you a big supporter of local schools? Then include a high school football schedule. Do you pride yourself on educating residents? Then add a list of city department contact numbers or info on how local government works.

    Just don’t forget to be genuine . . . and unique. Balloons, nail files and other trashy campaign trinkets may seem like something of value, but they’re really just tired, overused junk that countless lazy campaigners buy in bulk every year. Campaign trinkets won’t make people remember you, and they’re just as likely to end up in the garbage as a bad piece of literature.