Promoting a Winning Campaign
Print Solutions Magazine, July 2005

In the fall of 2004, Evan Bayh's name seemed to be everywhere in Indiana—planted in thousands of front yards, stuck to hundreds of car bumpers and pinned to sweaters. U.S. Sen. Bayh, D-Ind., who was running for re-election in 2004, quickly became a household name thanks to promotional products such as yard and rally signs, bumper stickers and pins. Bayh won the election, and Jeffersonville, Ind.-based distributorship Voluforms celebrated another successful promotional products sale.

Bill Stewart, Voluforms' vice president of sales, is used to selling promotional products to Democratic candidates. He served as chairman of the Clark County (Ind.) Democratic Party's Central Committee for 12 years, and has been a member for 22 years. Word traveled fast among Indiana's Democratic candidates that Stewart was in the printing business. Stewart began providing promotional products to candidates at the local, state and national levels before every election. "Being the party chairman helped a whole lot," Stewart says.

Bayh isn't a new client. During his successful campaign for a Senate seat in 1998, Voluforms provided him with promotional products. When Bayh ran for re-election in 2004, his office contacted Stewart. Voluforms quickly began working on several projects, including pins, labels and 16 x 26-inch yard signs. In February 2004, Stewart ordered 1,000 rally signs from manufacturer Gill Studios Inc., Shawnee Mission, Kan., for Bayh's campaign. The red-and-blue, screenprinted, 11 x 17-inch signs were poly-coated and printed on 18-pt. white card stock. Gill Studios used UV-cured ink to reduce fading. The signs were printed head-to-head and scored so they could be folded over easily. Once folded, the two signs were glued together, creating one double-sided sign. Gill Studios left a 2-inch pocket at the bottom of each sign to leave room for a stick, when needed. The rally signs were such a success that Voluforms provided 1,000 more in May 2004.

Promotional products account for 30 percent of Voluforms' sales. In addition, the company offers full-service printing, document imaging, forms management, on-demand printing and medical printing to a variety of customers, including many bankers.

Although Stewart keeps busy offering a variety of services to Voluforms' wide-ranging clients, he still keeps an eye on his fellow Democratic Hoosiers in office. Many people consider Bayh to be a possible presidential candidate in 2008. If that happens, Stewart hopes his distributorship's promotional products will be seen nationwide.

  1. Pay attention to detail. Many promotional products Voluforms supplied to Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., included an exclamation point in the form of a star, which had to line up with the exclamation point's vertical line. Stewart says when he first provided signs for Bayh in 1998, he had to revise several times until placement of the star was correct. "About all people who buy signs are pretty picky," Stewart says. "They want what they're paying for."
  2. Outdoor promotional products such as yard signs must be able to withstand weather such as sun, wind, rain and snow. Thick, poly-coated card stock adds durability, and UV-cured ink reduces fading. Stewart says he has driven on Indiana streets and seen yard signs blown over or ink that has faded. Yard signs that can't communicate a message because of poor quality are ineffective.
  3. "You wouldn't believe what people produce," Stewart says when talking about promotional products. Pay attention to manufacturers' new products. Attend trade shows and gather samples. Search online. Creative and unusual promotional products are appealing to clients because they differentiate companies from their competitors. PS

—Kara Gebhart Uhl