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Mailbox Monday


Election Day is 63 days away. If the USPS is really hurting for revenue (as some say it is), there will surely be plenty of mail between now and then. In a single day, the Queen B received several solicitations from politicians: senate hopefuls, current congress people, even the Speaker of the House.

But, the piece that stood out most was from democratic presidential candidate, Vice President Biden.

The outer envelope is oversized, measuring 4.75" x 11", so the generous dimensions alone got it noticed in a mailbox full of #10s. It has a live (albeit, presorted standard) stamp, and the teaser is personalized:

Alexandra, are you with me?

Inside, there's a two-page letter. It's addressed to "Friend," but the copy is compelling, focusing on the incumbent's failure to protect us from the convergence of "a global pandemic, a devastating economic crisis, and the reality of systemic racism." Biden (or, rather, Biden's copywriter)  makes good use of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), as well as a hopeful sense of righteous optimism. Throughout the letter, key phrases are in bold type or underlined, and the P.S. does exactly what a P.S. should do. It underscores Joe's main points and emphatically repeats the call-to-action:

P.S. I can't beat Donald Trump without your backing and support. Donald Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars ready to spend on attacking me — and we need all the help we can get to defeat him. Please join this fight for the soul of our nation with a gift to the Biden Victory Fud today, and together we can make sure that Donald Trump is a one-term president.

The letter is exceptionally well-written, and we took some time to try to figure out why it's working as hard as it is. One of the tricks we recommend to clients is to count how many times a letter references the company/sender, and how many times to speaks directly, in the second person, to the recipient. Parsing this particular letter was an interesting exercise:

  • First person singular (I, me, my) is used 9 times.
  • Second person singular (you, your) is used 10 times.
  • First person plural (we, our, us) is used 45 times!
  • And Donald Trump is referred to (almost always by both first and last name, and never with the title President preceding) is referred to 19 times.

From this, we're inferring that the Biden campaign recognizes that this election is more about voting against someone than for someone. That conclusion is borne out by the content of the letter as well. Two-thirds of it criticizes Trump's response to the nation's needs. And, as demonstrated by the liberal use of first person plural, it's up to US to make things better. The letter doesn't begin to assert the proactive and positive plans Biden has until well into the second page.

Other elements include a donation response device, with a generous space left available to answer "What issues matter most to you? Let Joe know!" There's a postage-paid BRC and a color insert with a smiling campaign photo of Biden, and a "handwritten" note on the back, asserting that "Our best days still lie head. Together we will choose hope over fear, unity over division, and truth over lies." There's that first person plural again.

The package is exactly right for Biden supporters as well as those for whom Joe wasn't the first (or maybe even second) choice, but who still want to evict the current resident of the White House.

And, in 63 days, we'll find out whether this strategy worked.


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