Every campaign wants to make the most of their campaign dollars. This is why campaigns spend time and money ensuring that there TV, radio, and direct mail pieces are professionally designed and are on the best channels, stations, and mailing universe to have the greatest impact. Yet, campaign lawn sign distribution is haphazard. Signs are distributed going to the people who get to the campaign headquarters in time before they run out. Just like every other component to your campaign, you should have a well thought out campaign yard sign strategy.
Place yard signs on private property not public roadways
Yard signs on public roadways is a common occurrence but putting lawn signs along the highway isn’t worth the trouble to the campaign. To get the most value out of political lawn signs, campaigns are better off to place yard signs on private property. There are some of the difficulties with putting signs on public roads:
- Yard signs on public roadways will not get picked up after the campaign. You will need to do it.
- Putting yard signs on highways is unlawful in many states and may get removed.
- Lawn signs on private property mean something. It demonstrates that there is support for the candidate. The average voter understands that the campaigns spouse or hired staff can plaster public roads with lawn signs.
On the other hand, placing lawn signs on private property not only avoids the problems associated with signs on the highway but also has a number of benefits to political campaigns:
- Publicly shows support from neighbors
- Demonstrates campaign momentum
- Increases name recognition
While putting political yard signs on private property and not on public roadways is the only hard and fast rule there are some tactics to execute your yard sign plan more effectively.
Campaign lawn sign distribution to opinion leaders
For the same reason that campaigns look for endorsements from community leaders to issue press releases, put information about endorsements on their website to incorporate endorsements into direct mail and other outreach plans, lawn signs in community leaders’ yards are very effective.
Each street and block has opinion leaders. These aren’t people who necessarily lead an organization or are successful businessmen, although they could be. An opinion leader is anyone’s who opinion is valued on his or her block, neighborhood or community. You can leverage the value of the yard sign by getting signs in these peoples’ lawns:
- Long time residents
- Volunteers for community organizations
- People who serve on municipal boards or authorities
- Polling place volunteers
- Elected officials
The people that their neighbors have respect for are the most important voters in the community to display yard.
Yard sign blitz
The average person doesn’t notice one yard sign on his commute to and from work, but the average person will notice when there is a dramatic change in the streetscape. This means that is dozens or hundreds of signs are placed in a concentrated area in a short period of time, voters in the area will notice. Strategically, any technique that increases the chances that voters are going to see and pay attention to the campaign yard signs the more effective they will be. Here are two ways to accomplish mass distribution in a neighborhood or full precinct:
- Phone banks and canvasses are a great way to build a list of voters who are interested in a campaign lawn sign. Asking targeted voters if they would like a campaign yard sign will build a list large enough for a meaningful sign blitz.
- Keep a list of yard signs requests: only when there is a critical mass of supporters who want yard signs in an area distribute the signs. Download the sample yard sign sign up sheet from Scribd:
If there are enough yard signs distributed to substantially change the look of the street scape supporters and undecideds alike will take notice.
Target precincts for campaign yard signs
Just like other aspects of the campaign, the campaign yard sign strategy means that more resources are going to certain areas of the district than others. Deciding where to focus campaign resources is targeting. If your campaign data shows where your campaign has the weakest name recognition that precinct should get the most yard signs. Even if your campaign doesn’t have this empirical data, it’s safe to say, for example, that the precinct where the candidate lives doesn’t need as many yard signs as the precincts that the candidate doesn’t live in.
If the campaign doesn’t have clear data as to which precincts have the least name recognition, it’s important to note that there is often a correlation between voter turnout and eventual name ID. Logically, high turnout precincts have voters that are the most well-informed about the political process including who the candidates are. Voters in lower turnout precincts haven’t gotten to the point of knowing who the candidates are let alone determine who they are supporting and to care about the election enough to vote. If you’re campaign needs to increase voter turnout in certain precincts increasing name recognition in those precincts is the first step.
Unlike many other components of a campaign, political yard signs are rarely distributed strategically. If your campaign is going to invest in anything whether it’s a big TV buy or a small yard sign purchase, make sure that your campaign is getting the most value out of those dollars. This means that your campaign should be thinking about how to distribute political lawn signs in a way that’s going to increase candidate name recognition, placate volunteers and supporters, and build campaign momentum the most efficiently.