The Top 5 Direct Mail Mistakes

As a firm that specializes in political direct mail, we've seen everything. We've seen some really innovative, clever, creative work. We've also seen some really bad mail, often driven by the candidates themselves. As we move into a busy election season, we want to share with you the top 5 mistakes campaigns make with direct mail so you can avoid them in 2018.

1. Including everything on every mailer

Consistency is great in direct mail. And when on a budget, it makes sense to repeat the core message. But if a piece is supposed to focus on K-12 education, don't include your plan for health care reform. Your mailer should tell a story, not all the information you can think of.

Debunking Myths from NY-14

The dust is starting to settle after a crazy primary night in NY's 14th district, in which longtime Congressman and high-ranking Democrat Joe Crowley lost in a primary to Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. With all the takes flying about, we wanted to add our perspective and debunk the myths about the results.

1. Ultra-liberal candidates are now going to win everywhere.

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement, when a self-proclaimed socialist wins a congressional primary, but NY-14 was hardly a trend. This is an extremely blue district that voted for Hillary by over 60 points. What happens here has little-to-nothing to do with the swing districts Democrats need to win. Having the right candidate for the right district is what is important.

Hot New Trends in Digital Advertising!

At HSG Campaigns, we're always looking for new, innovative ways to give our clients an advantage in the next election. Here are some of the exciting new things in the world of digital ads...

1. Sending display and pre-roll ads to your mail list

Geo-fencing allows campaigns to target people at their exact locations. It's a favorite tool of legislative advocacy, targeting buildings where decision makers log online. But it can also be used to target the homes of known voters. Imagine digital ads that mirror your mail piece, targeting the same homes as the ones on your mail list. We can do that now.

How to Take Advantage of the #BlueWave

How to Take Advantage of the #BlueWave

We've seen the polling, the fundraising figures, the online activity stats, and the special election results. 2018 is going to be a very good election year for Democrats. We put together the following tips for how we can all ride this blue wave to victory in November.

1.  Adjust your targets for the new environment

We often look at a previous midterm election when preparing for the next midterm election. But a lot has changed since 2014. (You know who we're referring to).

Educated suburbanites are leaning towards Dems more than ever before. Rural, working-class voters can be won back, but it will take a different message. Know your district. And don't be afraid to widen your targets among women, Millennials, and minority voters. They're pissed off and ready to vote.

2. Plug into this new energy

The Resistance has taken form in thousands of small groups across the country, both online and offline. Chances are there's at least a dozens such groups in your district. These are folks ready to fight for progressive values, but they often have zero experience in a campaign environment.

From Generation Change to Black Lives Matter, there's a lot of places to start this search for your local progressive groups. Take a look around Facebook and Twitter and you'll start to see the increasingly organized energy of the movement. Tapping it means tapping new volunteers and new donors. 

3. You still need to put in the work

Many candidates hope for a silver bullet that will win them the election without forcing them to toil through the long hours and stress of a campaign. That's always a danger. But the sense of inevitability this year with the #BlueWave makes it all the more threatening.

If anything, riding the blue wave means doing more fundraising calls, knocking on more doors, going to more public events, not fewer. Don't count on a favorable environment to do the work for you. Whether your a candidate, a campaign staffer, or a consultant, expect this year to be a grind. But a very rewarding one.

"Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

"I'm a longtime educator and even as a candidate I didn't think of myself as a politician. That's why Eric and his team were such a tremendous asset to my school board campaigns. They have a special understanding of what moves voters and how to communicate with them. The strategies they helped develop made my wins possible. I highly recommend HSG Campaigns."

— Dr. Richard Vladovic, LAUSD Board Member

HSG contributed to Dr. Vladovic's 2011 and 2015 re-election efforts. During his time on the school board, the Los Angeles Unified School District has seen major improvements in graduation rates and college preparedness. We are proud of the work we did to help make that happen.

Dave and Dr. Vladovic watching the returns come in on Election Night 2015.

What We're Reading

Mark is recommending The President's Book of Secrets, by David Priess.


"A deep look at the evolution of the President's Daily Brief by the CIA, and how different Presidents consumed intelligence. Extremely prescient today as we have a President who, as reported, doesn't read briefings unless his name is featured heavily. Priess takes a historical look at how intelligence shaped history, and how the transition from different administrations caused problems for the CIA."

- Mark

Check Out EPIC

The Economic and Policy Impact Center (EPIC) is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that pursues economic equity and opportunity through civic engagement and leadership development.

EPIC is currently led by former Long Beach Council Member Steve Neal, a client of HSG Campaigns! Check out the great work they are doing.

4 Tips for Making Your Mail Better

Four Tips for Making Your Mail Better

1.  More Text Does Not Make It Better:

It can be tempting to put all your policy positions and all of your accomplishments on a piece of mail, hoping voters will read the whole thing. Most voters don’t. Our rule of thumb: The mailer needs to get an important point across to the voter in the time it takes them to move from the mail box to the trash bin.

2. Cutting Quantity is Not Cost Effective:

Printing is scalable. When your budget is in a pinch, it’s tempting to cut down the number of households receiving a piece. But the difference between printing 5000 pieces instead of 6000 pieces is very small. Look at your entire campaign budget and see if there is nothing else you can cut first.

3. Quality Design is Harder Than You Think:

Sometimes friends or family will offer their help designing your pieces, but very few graphic artists have the knack for political mail. Over the years, we’ve reviewed the portfolios of hundreds of graphic artists, and very few have ever made the cut. Rely on your mail consultant for design work. They have graphic artists they trust to do the job right.

4. Make Sure Your Photographer Knows What “High Resolution” Means:

If you don’t want your face to look blurry on your mailer, you can’t use photos taken on a camera phone. But even when you hire a professional photographer and do a photo shoot, the product they send you is not always print-quality. When you hire them, make it clear that the photos need to be 300 dots per inch and at least 2000 pixels high or wide. Photos with that quality will print clearly on direct mail.

"Why I Chose HSG Campaigns"

"In 2008, I hired Eric and his team to run my campaign for Alderman in Milwaukee. I had never run for office before, and I found myself in a crowded, competitive primary. The mail they created for the campaign made me stand out from the crowd, and the field effort they built was organized and disciplined. They were with me through an even more competitive run-off election. I cannot overstate the value of HSG Campaigns in tough elections."

— Nik Kovac, Alderman, Milwaukee's 3rd District

In the 10 years since HSG helped elect Nik Kovac, Milwaukee's 3rd Aldermanic District has seen incredible transformation, including a new, state-of-the-art library, new businesses, and enhanced quality of life with the development of the Milwaukee River Greenway. We could not be more proud of the great work he has done for his constituents and the City of Milwaukee.

What We're Reading

Eric is recommending The Soul of an Octopus.


"An animal as amazing and engaging as the octopus deserves a book equally as compelling. This book delivers. It almost reads as a love story, between the author and these animals. A beautiful love story. The octopus tops my favorite animal list just like this book tops my highly recommended book list. Also it's a nice reprieve from the human world we all now inhabit. I absolutely enjoyed reading this book."

- Eric

April is National Donate Life Month

This April, please consider donating blood. Blood donations save lives. It is an easy, safe, and painless process that does a lot of good.  

Click here to find a blood drive near you >>

5 Takeaways from PA-18

Five Takeaways from PA-18

The first seat of 2018 has fallen. Let's take a look at what that means.

1. Republicans should be scared out of their minds:

This was a district that Donald Trump won by over 20 points just 16 months ago, and to swing all the way back to a toss-up represents a massive shift towards the Democrats. Even if the overall shift in the midterms is half that; Democrats will most likely take back the House and even the Senate would be in play. Put it this way, there are over 100 currently-held GOP seats that are more blue than PA-18. 

Five Tips for Your Campaign Website 

A website is a great way to interact with voters and allow them to research your positions. However there are many things to keep in mind when designing your website. 

1. Take advantage of modern website creators:

Gone are the days when you need a dedicated web designer to create the perfect page for you. There are numerous places that make website creation simple and easy, like Squarespace and Wix. Do some basic research and find a provider and site that works for you.