A Message From Our President | Crafting A Campaign Plan
Election Day will be here in a little over four months. If you are running for a down ballot position and haven’t already organized a campaign plan, now is the right time to start.
A well-executed campaign plan could be the difference in winning or losing, especially in a competitive district. Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should include simple, realistic goals and objectives that will give you success at the polls.
A good plan starts with thinking through what you want to say to your voters. There are a handful of things you should consider here:
What do you want to say about yourself?
How are you qualified to hold this office? What about your background, experiences, and accomplishments will convince voters you are the right person for the job?
Are there policy issues you are passionate about? Find the issues that voters can relate to and connect with. If there is a topic you like but realize nobody else cares about it, that doesn’t mean your issue isn’t important, but it does mean you shouldn’t make that a key point in your campaign.
What are you wanting to accomplish once you are elected? Running for office just so you can hold said office isn’t going to get you elected. Think about the changes that voters want to see, and then develop a proposal for how you will solve those problems.
What do you want to say about your opponent?
The short answer might be you don’t want to say anything about your opponent, and that is fine. However, you might be asked so its best to be prepared to answer.
What are the policy differences between you? Think about how your positions are more in line with what voters prefer.
Keep it short.
Nobody wants to read or listen to an essay about why you deserve to be elected.
Often, you will have a voter’s attention for 30 seconds or less. Don’t waste that time. Develop a quick introduction that lays out who you are, what you are running for, and what you hope to accomplish if elected. Finish by making sure you ask for a vote.
Keep it simple.
Very few people want to dive into policy nuances. Doing so will most likely cost you a vote.
Keep your talking points brief and consumable.
Now that you have an idea of what you want to say during the campaign, its time to decide how to get that message in front of voters.
There are nearly unlimited ways of doing this, so spend some time thinking through what you want to do and be specific with each idea. List out how many people you would target with each action, what the cost would be, and what you want it to look like. A sample of ideas to consider include:
These are items that can be performed by you and your volunteers for little to no cost.
Local campaigns can be won with a good door to door effort. COVID may hurt your ability to knock doors in 2020, but if it doesn’t, decide how many you need to visit and when you need to start. Having a weekly goal is not a bad idea. Make sure the card you leave behind his professional looking and meets the objective of being short and simple.
A good phone list can put you in direct contact with your voters. Again, figure out how many calls you need to make and decide how many you need to call each week to get it completed. Make sure you have a short script for your volunteers. And remember, follow-up calls to your voters throughout early voting can help increase turnout in your favor.
When planning your grassroots campaign, think about where you will get your voter address and phone list. Sometimes political Parties offer these to their candidates, but you may have to purchase a good list.
Direct mail and digital ads are typically an efficient way for local campaigns to reach voters.
Another effective way to connect with voters is through paid phone calls and text messages. These one on one experiences are great for persuading voters and helping get out the vote.
As you develop ideas for your paid advertising, remember that often cost will be tied to the number of voters or voter households you are trying to reach. Work with your vendor to figure this pricing out so you know what to expect early on.
First and foremost, remember this important rule: Signs do not win elections.
While your supporters, and even some voters, expect to see them, you do not have to spend half your budget on signs. I’ve seen candidates who have gone without signs, some who only put out yard signs, and others who only purchased big signs for strategic locations. You decide what is best for you.
Many candidates want to purchase billboards and LED signs. If your budget allows for it, great. But in a local race, never put those expenses before advertisements you know for a fact can get into the hands of and be seen by the voters you want to target.
Finally, you are ready for the most important part of the campaign plan – writing it all down!
No matter what you think, if you don’t write your plan down it will not be successful. Again, you need to be specific. In addition to the above, your written plan should also include:
How can you expect to win if you’re not even sure how many people you need to reach? Eliminate this problem early by putting together estimated turnout for your district.
Some candidates do this by county, others do it by precinct. Whichever way you decide, make sure you include estimated turnout, percent of vote needed, and vote goal for each defined area.
Budget and Fundraising Goals
Campaigns are controlled by the amount of money in the bank. Once you know how you want to reach voters, you can budget out what you need to make that happen.
Once you know how much you will need to spend, you know how much you need to raise. Make sure you plan includes a path for making that happen. Good questions to consider: Who do you need to talk with, how much do you need to ask for, and how much time should you devote to fundraising each week.
Having a calendar helps you focus on what is important at that time.
A good timeline will lay out when you expect to walk certain neighborhoods, when mail pieces should be sent to the printer, what digital ads need to run each week, and so on.
Obviously, even with a written campaign plan, things are going to happen that force you to make changes. But having a written plan increases your chances of calling successful audibles when that time comes.
Our team at JCD Consulting has years of experience working with candidates to create written plans customized to fit each campaign. Creating your plan may take time, but it’s time well spent.