Who Has Your Vote?
If House of Cards has taught us anything, it is that political campaigns can't start too early and never really end. (And that Kevin Spacey should narrate everyone's lives.) There's always someone planning ahead for election year 2016, 2020 or even 2044. The promotional products industry rewards people who plan ahead with more complicated artwork, custom designs and low-cost shipping. Planning ahead for elections means finding products that can withstand wear and tear as buttons get daily use and yard signs stay posted from candidacy announcement to voting day. Promo Marketing reached out to two politically savvy promotional suppliers for more information on finding election products that last.
THE PRODUCTS TO WATCH
Signs are the first product most people think of when planning a political campaign. There's a reason for that: We see them everywhere. Dino Bartolomei, president of Adco Litho Line, Broadview, Ill., explained that election products need to be seen. "In the last few years, yard signs have given the most exposure," he said.
Rick Nielsen, CAS, director of sales and marketing, Pilgrim Plastics, Brockton, Mass., discussed how Pilgrim Plastics creates yard signs that last through those many impressions (and months of sun, rain and snow). "We use corrugated plastic, which is probably the Cadillac of signage," he said. "We do not use polyethylene or poster board as those materials just don't hold up," he said, adding, "Well, maybe in Arizona and Florida!"
The sign material is not the only thing that needs to stand up to bad weather; the imprint needs to remain clear as well. "We also use UV inks on all our products as they are the most durable in outdoor applications," Nielsen said.
Having all the materials to last through one election cycle means the signs can probably last even longer than that, which is useful for local politicians with smaller budgets. "When working with a small budget, the most important things are yard signs. It is also important to buy a durable yard sign as they can be used for two or three elections, saving a considerable amount of money," Nielsen said.
Bartolomei noted that other than yard signs, buttons are the top election product category. "Buttons are the No. 1," he said. To make those No. 1 "Vote for me!" buttons last, Bartolomei suggested lamination. "Buttons are printed on either paper or metal. Both are laminated to preserve and protect [the] imprint," he said.
LOCAL VERSUS NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
When selling to the government market, start small and local. "We work primarily with local officials," Nielsen said. He offered advice on getting involved with local government. "The best way to contact government officials is to go to town websites where all elected officials are listed. A good strategy is to ask if the person they are buying signs from lives in their district or town. Make sure they keep those ad dollars in the hometown," said Nielsen.
After you land the business of your town's commissioner or mayor, you can look to bigger programs. While Pilgrim Plastics has worked primarily with local government, the company also has done national programs. "We have done the name badges for the last two Republican conventions," Nielsen mentioned.
If you think there is more money in national political promotions, you're right. "The amount spent is huge and usually one or two distributors are awarded," Bartolomei said. But that hefty paycheck comes with risks. "National campaigns have more variables," he said. "The orders are much bigger but can have many variables such as customized images for different demography, drop-shipping products all over the country, plus the logistics of warehousing the products," he said.