The Republicans Continue to Astonish
When I started the cranky little newsletter, Who’s Mailing What! (now Inside Direct Mail) in 1984, I persuaded America’s premier liberal democratic fundraiser, Roger Craver, of Craver, Mathews, Smith & Co., to write a three-part series on the opposition — the then-current republican efforts that were superb in terms of elegance, sophistication and power. Craver wrote:
“In my experience, the key ingredients in the recipe for successful political direct mail differ markedly from its commercial cousins. Here are the ingredients I consider essential. All successful packages contain most or all of them …
“(1) A sense of mission. There is always a threat, opportunity or challenge that must be met.
“(2) A sense of selectivity. You, Dear Reader, are special because, unlike most of your fellow citizens, you understand. You, more than most, really know what’s going on and are willing to act on your beliefs. Call it ‘elitism’; call it what you will, but the act of pitting the ‘saved’ or ‘knowing’ against those who ‘threaten’ everything that’s good or decent or hopeful is essential to this genre of direct mail.
“(3) A sense of urgent need. Politics is noble. Important. And perhaps nowhere else in our culture is this reflected more than in the mail. Candidate X and Cause A don’t just need money some time in the far-off future. They need it now. By Wednesday. And if they don’t get it, the world surely is going to hell in a hand basket.
“(4) A sense of continuity and effectiveness. Our opponents are powerful, well financed and, of course, about to win if you don’t respond immediately. But … with your help, we’ll prevail. Victory is at hand. The polls show it. Our field staff reports it. Our leaders are committed to it. We’ve done it before; we’ll do it again. But only with your help.”