Yard sign war in the news

I’ve been talking about how besting the other candidates with the number of political lawn signs placed on private property will get in the newspaper. Here is a real life example:

In this case, with the mayoral election eight weeks away, I learned two things. First, if yard signs matter, this election is a huge yawner. I drove the mosh pit of Dallas city politics, where people actually vote and elections are decided â?? Belt Line south to Northwest Highway, and the Richardson city line to just west of the tollway. Most of the neighborhoods didnâ??t have any yard signs, and those I did see had one or two a block, tops. Yes, it wasnâ??t a scientific survey, but if those people arenâ??t interested, will anyone be?

Second, I saw Rawlings yard signs. I saw Kunkle yard signs. I saw Pray to Save America yard signs. I saw yard signs for high school athletics. But I didnâ??t see one Ron Natinsky yard sign. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Assuming Natinsky is doing yard signs (and his web site says he is), this must mean something. But I have no idea what that it is. Itâ??s just too surreal to make any sense of.

“Zip. Zero. Zilch” = ouch!  You can avoid the bad press that Ron Natinsky experienced and get some of the great press that some other candidates received by investing in some yard signs for supporters.

There is another lesson here as well.  If you are going to publicly declare that you are distributing yard signs, consider adding some context on your website.  Your campaign might decide that only dedicated volunteers will get yard signs.  If that’s the case, explain your policy on the website to reduce calls from casual supporters who want yard signs and in this case, the reporter would have been more forgiving if it was clear that only a select group of people will be getting campaign yard signs.

Campaign sign wars explained

A West Hollywood newspaper explains what sign wars matter:

The signs point to election disaster. Few open indicators exist in West Hollywood to gauge candidate popularity during a municipal election. Little, if any, independent polling gets done, and campaigns hold their data notoriously close to their vests. Few public rallies are held to weigh general interest and voters must attend, view or record the pair of candidatesâ?? forums held this season. Lawn signs, however, are a popular, traditional way for local candidates to get word out about the length, breadth and depth of their support.

Turns out that the local sign wars are heavily in the challenger’s favor.  I don’t think that political lawn signs alone with election either but think about the leg up that these challengers are getting because they are talking to voters, getting their signs out there, and earning media because of it! If these candidates are smart, they’ll continue to build off of their momentum because of an aggressive field campaign, using signs, and engaging local media.  With increased exposure from yard signs, they can engage more voters from a stronger position because they are “ahead” in the sign race.

Building a Personal Brand with Campaign Yard Signs

[audio:https://www.campaigntrailyardsigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Building-a-candidates-personal-brand-with-yard-signs.mp3|titles=Building a candidate’s personal brand with yard signs]

Welcome to another episode of the Campaign Trail Yard Signs podcast.  Today we are going to talk about branding.  It’s a very hot term particularly when you talk about things like a personal brand.  It’s something that’s really big right now; people like Gary Vaynerchuk, other big people in the social media and internet marketing space are talking about it.  Political consultants are talking about it.

You can help brand yourself as a candidate and as a campaign using the humble yard sign.  What I’m going to suggest here is very simple: use text, use graphics that you are can use across your yard sign, your website, your direct mail piece, or even on your television spots if that’s what you have the money and resources to do.

These are very simple things that you can take into account and run them across all the media that voters are going to see.  What made me think about this is that I’m driving to my day job and I saw a Marlboro sign.  It doesn’t even say what Marlboro is but of course, everybody knows what the Marlboro company is, they sell cigarettes.  I don’t smoke and I don’t recommend that you smoke, but that’s aside from the point.

What they have is a very interesting, red, not to much logo, but it’s two triangles sort of connect to each other in the middle.  Anytime that you see that, even if you didn’t see the word Marlboro, you kind of know what it is.  And you see that no matter what Marlboro, whether that’s on the product itself, whether its on their outdoor signage, whether it’s on any other media that you might see on print advertising, a magazine, that sort of thing, or on their website.

One another great tip to be able to brand yourself across all of the media that you are using to connect with voters is to have a very, very simple logo.  If you have a simple logo that can be used on a yard sign without detracing from it, that can be used on direct mail without getting lost in the shuffle as they are throwing it out, and all the other forms of media that you are using to connect with your voters.  That is going to be a great asset to you because you are going to be able to use it across all those forums.  It’s going to be really simple to implement.  It’s going to be less costly to design.  Chances are there are going to be fewer colors so it’s going to be less costly to print.  There are many great benefits to having a very simple logo that you can use on your yard sign and every other form of communication you have with voters.

The other piece is having text that you can use across most of these mediums or at least text sort of in the same family.  It’s very different to have text that works on a yard sign that also works on a website.  Yard sign text has got to be big and bold, but on a website, you can be a little more flexible with having a thinner font.  But your graphic designer or just having a keen aesthetic eye, should be able to understand what text fonts are going to work with each other.  So that you have a cohesive feel across your yard signs, your website, and all of the other mediums that you connect with voters.

This has been another Campaign Trail Yard Signs podcast.  If you have any questions hit the contact, give me a call, shoot me an email, and I’ll be able to help you out.  Again, thanks for tuning in and good luck on your campaign!

A politico and Realtor talks yard signs

Abe Haupt
Abe Haupt, Realtor and Politico

Thanks again Abe for answering a few questions about your experience with yard signs! 

First, explain a little bit about your political background. What campaigns have you been involved with and in what role?

I first got politically involved in college as an intern for Bob Yorczyk who was the Democratic Congressional Candidate running against Joe Pitts in 2000. Ironically, current State Rep. Duane Milne who is a Republican was my advisor. Although we lost I recieved an “A”.

I then finished college and worked as a staffer and GOTV director for the campaign of Andrew Hohns who ran for State Rep in the PA 182nd Democratic primary in 2004 against State Representitive Babette Josephs. We broke a record in that we raised more funds than any candidate had ever raised in a State Rep race but lost by 400 votes in a hard fought battle. I made many great friends on that campaign who Im still close with today, most notably Abe Dyk, Tony Heyl, and Tarik Peat.

I then went to Law School and when I left Law School in 2006, got involved with the PA Young Democrats and got my Real Estate License and got elected Recording Secretary on the exec board In January 07. I then founded the Montgomery County Young Democrats and in June of 2009 got elected Treasurer of the PAYD. Under my leadership, we have raised over 25 thousand dollars whereas the person who was treasurer before me raised 190 dollars his whole term. I also brought Anthony Youngblood onto the board and your friend Jenn Frownfelter as well who just replaced me as Treasurer last month as I decided to resign (on good terms) to focus my civic efforts on raising money for Occular Melanoma which my girlfriend Melissa was diagnosed with in Janauary as well as to spend more time on my rapidly growing real estate practice. I am still a member of the PAYD board and still serve as Executive Vice Chair of the Jewish Caucus of National YDA. Wow that was alot! I have no desire to brag and I dont want to bore you further so I’ll go onto the next question.

Not only are you involved in politics, you’re also a Realtor. You just can’t get away from yard signs. What are the differences between how Realtors use signs and how political campaigns do?

Realtors use signs to promote themselves and their clients interests. Political signs promote a cause. While it is true that signs promote the name recognition of the candidate and are undoubtedly helpful to them in making their name known regardless of whether they win or lose, the presumed basis of political signs is the expression of a set of ideals in the public interest. Real Estate signs are obviously more purely shamelessly devoted to self promotion and there is no presumed cause other than to sell the listing and to attract buyers.

What are the differences in the signs themselves (e.g. aluminum frames versus fold over/corrugated plastic/bag signs)?

Real Estate signs are meant to last for months, even possibly years while the property is on the market so naturally they are far sturdier and more expensive and designed for reuse. Political signs are designed for single use, and designed for quick and rapid deployment in many locations simultaniously. Also most realtors dont steal each others signs like political parties sometimes do.

Have signs helped you professionally as a Realtor and as a political activist? How?

Not really. To be truthful, I always thought candidates and realtors alike put too much faith in signs. Signs ‘vote and signs don’t make offers on listings. They do get your name out there but in the world of 21st century media, the relevance of lawn signs has been greatly diminished. I get most of my clients off webites like Zillow.com. In fact to this date, I’ve gotten maybe one or two sales from signs and dozens from online.

If someone would like to do business with you, how can they get in contact with you?

www.AbeHaupt.com www.ABetterRealtor.com
Or just call my cell at 610-996-3405.

Thanks again for agreeing to answer a few questions!

Campaign signs and how a new field staffer learned who is state Rep was

[audio:https://www.campaigntrailyardsigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/data-2011-1-5-16-52-381.mp3|titles=Campaign Signs Taught a Candidate Staffer who their state Representative was]


Welcome to the Campaign Trail Yard Signs podcast. Thanks for tuning in. I’m doing these podcasts in my car as I’m traveling for work or pleasure, so I apologize if there is a little bit of background noise. We are just starting this out and taking the opportunity as the spirit moves me to do new podcasts.

Yesterday, I was at a cocktail party with some elected officials and campaign workers. One of them was a newly minted campaign worker. It was interesting, one of the first things he talked about was that he didn’t know who his state Representative was until recently except that that state Representative had yard signs out all of the time throughout the district. That’s the only reason why he knew who his state Representative was.

The ironic part is in the same breath he said “I wish they would just outlaw yard sign.” He continued, we don’t need election signs in this state. Politicians, candidates, challengers, no one should be able to have a yard sign. In their lawn, on the rights of way, or anywhere else because it is such a bother for the campaign staffer to deal with.

But the trouble is, when you don’t pay attention to politics, when you’re not reading about individual candidate’s policies and the like, you’re just like that staffer used to be before he caught the political bug. You’re only going to know who your elected officials are, you’re only going to know who your candidates are if you’re confronted by them.

One of the ways that people are exposed to the candidate’s name and how a candidate can increase their name recognition is through yard signs. It’s really interesting the irony that campaign staffers have because there is work and effort involved in campaign yard signs but sometimes, for some candidates that need to increase their name recognition that time time and effort is worth it. It was for that state Representative who was able to make an impression on that young campaign staffer.

“Yard Signs Don’t Vote” But….

Do doors vote?

Do mail pieces vote?

Do phones vote?

Do campaign headquarters vote?

Do political consultants vote?  Ok, in your district?

Do robo calls vote?

Does the campaign website vote?

So what’s the point?  Does saying “yard signs don’t vote” mean anything?  Not really.  There are campaigns that don’t need to order a single yard sign and others that should be use them as an integral part of their strategy to increase name recognition, to reward volunteers, and on Election Day.

The decision to buy election signs or not should be based on whether it’s the right strategy for a particular campaign not because someone has declared that yard signs don’t vote.

Channel yard sign theft anger into volunteerism

This is a little bit outside of the yard sign realm, but thought that this Craigslist post indicates how emotional voters can get about having their yard signs stolen:

Originally Posted: Thu, 20 Nov 00:49 PST
To the wingnut who stole my Obama/Biden magnet and left a note – w4m
Date: 2008-11-20, 12:49AM PST
I was really angry when I got to my car, which was minding its own business parked in the Barnes & Noble parking lot, and I saw that someone had stolen my precious Obama magnet! I waited more than 2 months for that magnet to come in the mail!!
But then as I was driving home I noticed a small white paper flapping in the breeze under my windshield wiper. I pulled over to retrieve it and it was a sloppily-scribbled, psychotic expression of your wingnut political beliefs. I do not care about your paranoid mental disorder (I quote: “Are you ready to give up your freedom? It’s COMING MORON!!”)
You stole my magnet. I want it back. I’ll give you 24 hours to put it back on my scion, which will be parked there tomorrow… or I will take the scrap of Wells Fargo bank statement you wrote your wing-note on to my friend who works for Wells Fargo. She will scan the barcode on the corner of your note and tell me who you are. And I will come steal something YOU value, perhaps your fingernail clipping collection or John McCain blow-up doll!
You have until sundown Thursday, douchbag!
Here is the important point for campaigns.  You can channel this anger into volunteer activity.  Voters who have their sign stolen will reach out to the candidate or political campaign.
Communicate to the voter that the best to get the yard sign thief back is to redouble their efforts.  Not only should they want to put another yard sign out on their lawn but also they should help with the weekend’s canvass or phone bank one evening.

Social Proof with Campaign Yard Signs

Robert Cialdini outlines six weapons of influence in his book Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive.  One of these concepts that influence people is social proof.

Political campaigns experience social proof all of the time.  Candidates who raise a lot of money are able to attract even more contributions because donors are chasing early money.  The field organizer that recruited the most volunteers last week will likely be a top performing this week and the weeks following because volunteer beget more volunteers and momentum builds on itself.

Social proof applies to campaign signs too.  The more signs on private lawns the more other voters will want their own campaign sign and the more voters will believe your campaign has popular support.

Voters are subject to social proof and the herd mentality.  If it’s clear the candidate has a lot support because there is a yard sign on most lawns, undecided voters will take this level of support into account as they are deciding who to vote for.

Voters who support the other candidate will also see the yard signs and it will demoralize them.  While the signs won’t change their minds, it might keep them home because they believe the candidate that they support doesn’t have a chance to win.

Social proof is a powerful force that will influence voters, so think about how the campaign can incorporate into the campaign plan and put social proof into action.