Do slate cards work?

Heck, yes, they work!

That is why several million dollars are spent on them every year in Californa.

Purchasing placement on a slate card is a smart move when running for office.

Slates, also known as voter guides, put your winning message in the hands of targeted voters while saving you lots of money.

Slate cards are not common in all states but they are big in California.

Before going further, I want you to know that I am a slate card vendor.  I publish, with a business partner, California’s only environmental slate card, Californians Vote Green.  

Throughout my career as a campaign professional, I have not only managed and published my own slate card, I have purchased slate card placements for the majority of my clients.

I believe slate cards can be an effective and affordable means of communicating with voters.  But there are a few things the candidate must know before making a slate card purchase.

Here is the bottom line with slate cards.

What are Slate Cards?

A slate card is generally a 6 x 11 inch card or approximately 8 1/2 x 11 inch folded in half mailer that lists candidates running for office in your jurisdiction.

Slate cards work because everyone pays a little.  They are really a communal mailing.

The slate card vendor must find enough candidates and campaigns willing to participate on the slate to pay for the production, mailing and postage and then make what every profit they feel is necessary.

Slate cards give you an additional and affordable opportunity to present your message  to the voters.

Most slates can be partisan looking mailer – Democrat, Republican, or Independent voters.

Or slate cards can focus on issues like public safety, the environment, or taxes.

Whatever the theme of the slate card it is meant to attract the attention or like-minded voters.

Drawing the voter in to encourage them to read the candidates single winning sentence.

Slate Cards are Targeted.

Most legitimate slate cards are targeting high-propensity voters.

Some slates can accommodate photos and graphics and some don’t.

Many slates will accommodate variable message.

Variable messaging is messaging that is dynamic and targeted to a specific group of voters. For example, women, seniors, Democrats, Republicans can all receive a unique message.

But the best slates allow for variable messaging.

The variable message allows you to develop multiple statements that might allow you to more effectively communicate your position to voters.

With variable messaging on slates, one is only limited by the available variables in the data, imagination, and willingness of the slate vendor to accommodate you.

Taking advantage of variable targeting with a slate can be a winning opportunity.

Slate Cards Save You Money.

Slate cards are a very cost effective means of mailing.

Slate card placement generally only costs $.10 to $.15 at the most. This is a fraction of what glossy mailers will cost.

Large races, because of the volume the slate is mailing and all the overlapping district, can often get by with much less.

Slates are great for campaigns that don’t have a lot of money but are a great addition to campaigns that have lots of money.

Slate Cards allow flexibility to expand mail programs.

You need to know what the slate card’s universe is. So make sure you ask.

But, for example, if the slate cards that you have purchased are mailing your message to all high propensity voters in your district.

You can focus the majority of your mail budget on persuading undecided voters.

This essentially allows you to expand your mail program providing you direct voter contact you may not have had.

Slate cards will save you money and allow you to use persuasive mail more effectively.

Slate Cards deliver your message again and again and again.

Repetition in messaging is important if you want people to remember your winning message.

According to one study, a typical adult is exposed to 590 minutes of advertising a day.

A New York Times article quoted Yankelovich, a market research firm that found the average person is bombarded with up to 5,000 message a day.

Slates work best if you put your message on multiple slate cards covering the same universe.

If your campaign has five to ten slate cards with your message being consistently delivered to voters, that will help drive your message home.

It will definitely increase the chances that the voters remember you when they complete their ballot.

What Slate Cards should you buy?

You should buy any slate card you can afford that comes from a reputable vendor.

There are a lot of consultants that get into the slate card business because they believe it is easy money.

But the fact of the matter is that making all the sales to support a slate, producing and mailing a slate is no easy task.

Mailing a slate card to hundreds of thousands or millions of voters, and recruiting a few hundred campaigns to participate, is not an easy task.

Many of those that get in the business never get their slate produced and mailed.

Make sure the slate you have purchased is produced by someone that has experience in the slate business and knows what they are getting into.

Ask these questions when purchasing placement on Slate Cards:

  1. What is your mailing date?
  2. How many characters (not words) of copy do I get?
  3. How many variables (remember variable messaging) are we allowed.
  4. When is payment expected?
  5. When must you receive copy, photos and any other info needed for the mailer?
  6. What is your price per unit?
  7. What is the number of units (voting households) that will me mailed?
  8. And, very important, what is the slate card’s targeted universe?

Some final words on Slate Cards.

Slate cards can save you money, enhance your mail program, and provide you a great opportunity to get your winning message in the hand of voters.

If you are going to buy slate cards, reach out to vendors early.

Also, get on as many slates as you can afford.  Remeber, it is all about getting your message in front of a targeted audiance.

Don’t’ get caught up on who else is on the slate at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter.

Put the effort into developing great copy and staying on message.