Campaign Lit 101: Dennis Arnold for State Senate

You know, I come up with these neat ideas for blog content, and I need to make sure I keep doing them. So this is another edition of Campaign Lit 101.

I'm not so sure it isn't too early for a lot of campaign literature. Aside from statewide candidates putting out early materials, you only have legislative hopefuls... also putting out early literature. Here's an example:This campaign piece from Dennis Arnold in Watertown was distributed at the Codington County Lincoln Day Dinner, and a reader was kind enough to get me a copy for review.

I get and try to keep all of this stuff for reference. I try to emulate the best, ignore what doesn't work, and see if there are any statements that I would classify as goofy in case it's needed for the future.

Anyway, this campaign piece is just a quick one off so there was something at the dinner that introduced people to his candidacy. For something quick and dirty, I actually don't mind this.

While the layout is good looking, there's a silly amount of space by his name. Make that name much, much bigger to fill the space. Make that name bold so it stands out, especially the last name. And center it within that middle area of space. And that's it for the top. That's all I'd really change.

Now, the bottom needs a bit more work.

There's just so much information that they're trying to cram in there. It's too much. It's information overload, causing it all to be lost in the clutter.

Admittedly, I'm bad at this too. If you've read some of my posts, I tend towards being verbose instead of bulleting my points. Voters have a short attention span. If you can't get it across in 6 or 7 bullets, it's too much. Here we have 14 bullet points. It's way too much.

So combine some of it, and cut some. Combine the NRA, DU and Turkey Federation into one line. Combine bullets one and two as well. Just flat out cut bullets 5-7. They're just verbal diarrhea. Bullet number 10 sums up just fine. If you have to use the other information, use it as support in an educational mailing. Not in a introductory brochure.

I think I'd drop the optimist club and 33 year resident bullets as well. You could all the 33 year one back in with Educator and just say "Watertown Educator for 33 years." It gets the same point across. Then make the text bigger.

For the other side, instead of a blank, throw a few pictures of the candidate, maybe one with his family on it, and repeat the name and office. It doesn't have to be elaborate. And that's really all I'd do. Just cut down the extraneous text so the rest is more easily read.

Overall, I'd give this a B to B- . I'm not trying to say it's bad by saying what I'd change. In fact, with a little thought, I think it would be easy to change it from a quick and dirty handout into a first class advertising piece you could use for the entire campaign.


notla said…
I tend to disagree with your statement about items 5-7, if I was able to read them correctly. It seems to me those items show that he has experience in a state-wide, and also national organizations. To me this indicates leadership experience, and his ability to work for and obtain those positions.
PP said…
You need to draw the line somewhere.

I'd argue they really don't add much for the layman. Because they layman doesn't care if he was in a committee for 15 states.... all named one by one.

You got a moment's glance with the average voter. That's why name and office have to be big, about 6 bulleted points, and that's it.
Anonymous said…
PP is correct about curbing clutter and maximizing name identification -- especially for newbies. A lot of new candidates make the mistake of thinking a lot of people know their name, so they are reluctant to preen in front of voters. Another mistake assumes people want to know a lot about each candidate, or that they would be impressed by a credentials blizzard, resulting in the candidate flooding their print materials with non-compelling information, such as we see in this example.

The bottom line, especially for those on the bottom of the ballot, is keeping it simple, starting with getting people to remember your last name. If there is any more compelling information on a piece, make sure it has meaning to the recipient and that it will make an impact on the 15 seconds it takes to go from picking up the mail in the mailbox and dumping it in the trash.

The objective is making a positive, compelling and memorable impression in the few seconds you have the reader's undivided attention.

Basic marketing.

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