Political candidates need three main categories of printed items to run for office-a name identification piece, an informational piece and a handout piece. The name ID piece is typically their yard sign, which has become the number one way to let voters know they are running. The informational piece is taken care of with a brochure, post card or palm card, maybe a combination of these. This piece offers bio information and a candidate’s issues. The piece with the most options, and can cause the greatest stress on a candidate, is the handout piece.
A handout piece is a “goodie” that is given to potential voters during neighborhood door knocking, parades or county fairs. Choosing a handout piece can be tricky in a number of ways. A candidate doesn’t want to spend too much money on a knick-knack. But, the handout has to be both functional and visible. Voters will either use the handout or throw it away. If it is thrown away, it loses its visibility factor.
To help, here is a rundown of the 5 best political handouts. The most common losers are also included. The criteria for these items is: 1) functionality-will the recipient actually use the item; 2) visibility-will the item’s functionality lead it to be passed on and seen by more than just the recipient; and 3) price point-will the combination of functionality and visibility justify the cost of the item.
#1-Notepads: For around $.30 each a candidate can get 1000, 25 sheet notepads with a logo on each page. People don’t throw out notepads. After a note is written on the pad, it is kept for a period of time and often handed to someone else. The notepad is the perfect combination of functionality, visibility and price.
#2-Sticky Notes: This item has the same functionality and visibility as the notepad. The cost is slightly more. However, some might agree that the uniqueness of the sticky note makes it a better handout.
#3-Stadium Cups: Stadium cups are a very versatile handout. They are great for college and high school sporting events, fairs, parades and candidate sponsored gatherings. The cost is comparable to the sticky notes, but it loses out slightly on visibility since they are used largely at single events.
#4-Pens: Think about this. Pens are an item that is commonly lost by its owner. However, when it is lost, someone else finds it. Pens are about the same price as notepads, but lose a little visibility until they are lost for someone else to find or shared with someone else. Consider coupling this with a notepad and you have a winning package.
#5-T-shirts: T-shirts are on this list because they have tremendous visibility and functionality. Next to yard signs, t-shirts have become one of the greatest name ID pieces in politics. Virtually everyone who is handed a t-shirt will wear it. But, the cost of handing out t-shirts can get high. That is why t-shirts are number five on this list.
*Honorable mentions-can holders, bumper stickers and magnets.
Worst Political Handouts
–Emery Boards: These are tailored for only part of the voting population. Also, who shares an emery board? Gross. They will remain in a women’s purse until they are no longer functional.
–Pencils: Do you know anyone with a pencil sharpener?
–Candy: Imprinted candy is fun, for kids. Kids can’t vote. The imprinted wrapper immediately ends up in the trash.
The bottom line with political handouts is to make sure potential voters will use it and share it. Also, buying these items shouldn’t leave a candidate with an empty campaign hopper.