Let’s get one thing straight: presenting your name to voters in any grand fashion will not impress anybody.
Jokes aside, the yard sign debate has been a topic of discussion around campaign water coolers for years. Many first-time, and even some incumbent, candidates believe that the key to swaying an election in their favor is to plaster their name on yard signs all over their district.
We can’t repeat this enough – yard signs do not win elections.
Even if you manage to place your sign on the corner of every highly visible street, keep in mind the average driver will look at a billboard for about four seconds. So you can imagine how long they will spend looking at a sign that is the fraction of the size of a billboard.
However, just because a sign is well-placed and a few voters see it, does not mean it will convince them to vote for you or even to remember your name. In-depth analysis on distracted driving has shown that drivers use their smart phones during close to 90 percent of their trips. Therefore, of the drivers who do happen to passively glance at your yard sign – you’ve got to hope they are reading it during one of the few trips where their phone is not distracting them.
(Yes, we’re aware of the recent distracted driving law in Washington State. We’re also aware that Troopers are reporting they haven’t seen changes in driving habits yet.)
If this happens, you still have to count on the driver caring enough to remember the name on the sign so they can Google you when they get home – because that is what they will do. Google your name. We live in the 21st century. Nobody believes anything anymore unless they find confirmation via the internet first.
So, what will voters find when they Google John Smith?
Hopefully not tagged photos from Facebook that have been cached in Google.
A better use of your campaign funds would be to buy online ads…you can think of them as digital yard signs. For the cost of one yard sign, a talented digital team could get your name and campaign in front of around 2,000 eyes (1,000 pairs) of actual voters in your district through the use of online ads.
Not only that, but they can help you replenish your campaign funds with targeted online fundraising efforts and even help to get your website ranked higher on search engines.
Just in case you’re not buying our case, remember studies have shown yard signs to be “98.3 percent useless.” We know how cash-strapped campaigns are because our everyone on our team has worked on one before. Believe us when we say there are far more efficient and effective ways to stretch your hard-earned campaign cash.
“BUT MY MOTHER-IN-LAW INSISTS YARD SIGNS WIN ELECTIONS…”
If you’re going to ignore our advice, at least abide by these guidelines and make sure they actually get into yards:
1) Never use a white background
2) Your design assets won’t show up, so drop the border and stick with simplicity.
3) Actually, your yard sign design should be one thing: your logo – printed in a contrasting color to the background you choose.
4) The only exception to rule #3 is if you are adding a well-known endorsement (newspaper, labor group, etc.) that can be attached via sticker.
5) Standard yard signs are 18” x 24”. Yard signs that are 9×24 are a good value IF your name works for it (like the Hans Zeiger signs in the photo below). Don’t try to be original and make your yard sign into something else – your creativity will be much better spent elsewhere (such as on a Facebook ad).
6) In Washington State, you don’t need a “Paid for by” on standard 18” x 24” signs.
7) Always mark where you take your yard signs so that you can pick them up when the election is over.
8) Don’t get petty with other peoples’ yard signs and knock them over. RCW 29A.84.040 ensures that, should you get caught, your prize will be a misdemeanor.
9) Yard sign waving is the responsibility of the mother-in-law who insisted you buy the damn signs and by volunteers during hours that you can’t phone bank or doorbell.
10) Finally, if you really want to know all of the nuts and bolts about sizing requirements and distance requirements (from the freeway, etc) – you can check out WAC 486-66-050.