Why the *#@$ is the party wasting money on sending me literature? And which doesn’t even mention any local issues?
That was a common question in the 2017 general election when people had national direct mail arrive with their post or got door-to-door paid delivery of items such as national Lib Dem newspapers. As it is starting to be asked again this time around, here is the answer…
In addition to our locally produced literature, we also do nationally produced items, such as direct mail or newspapers. Doing these central adds to the capacity in what we can do in target seats, and also if they are ‘national’ counts against a different spending limit, meaning we can do more. One of the lower-profile reasons for the Conservatives doing so well against us in 2015 is that they massively outspent us on such activity. We’ve learnt from that. Because such literature has to count against national rather than local spending limits, that’s why it doesn’t mention specific local candidates.
The delivery methods for such literature usually have a promised delivery date range of a few days. That’s why sometimes locally delivered literature and such national items arrive on doormats very close to each other. There isn’t enough certainty about the exact timings of either (remember, volunteer local deliverers don’t all march to an exact timetable either) to be able to space everything out neatly.
As for why we spend money on sending such items even to members, three things are worth bearing in mind.
First, at the scale at which we’re doing them, the saving from excluding such people from direct mail is pretty small – and is counter-balanced by the costs (in precious skilled people’s time if not money) in doing the exclusions. For unaddressed items, it’s not normally possible to exclude people anyway.
Second, not all members always vote for us – e.g. some may be attracted by tactical voting or not be happy with one of our policies. We shouldn’t take members for granted.
Third, it’s a good courtesy to members also to let them know what’s going on – excluding members from a lot of our activity means they may well not realise, for example, just how much effort we’re putting in and how valuable their own support has been. Or they might be baffled when a neighbour talks about a Lib Dem leaflet that they’ve never seen.
Finally, on the volume of such mailings and leaflet drops: yes, very high volume printed literature is still an effective part of an overall campaign plan.
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