Running a Smart Campaign – Part 1
The first assumption I prefer is that there will not be large amounts of money available. If the big donors step forward, that’s lovely, but I stand in unpopular territory. I believe elections are won with dedicated volunteers and a top notch get-out-the-vote operation, backed with smart messaging.
Smart ground games need not cost huge amounts of money. There are a lot of “ifs” attached to that statement, but it is a conservative (in a good sense) assumption. Why not plan on a guerrilla marketing campaign
? Then, if lots of money is raised, there will surely be ways to spend it.
Being a Believer
A fundamental question we have to ask ourselves is whether we believe in ourselves and our campaign, and do we believe in our candidate? The first question seems absurd, but I have seen people launch campaigns for the oddest of reasons, where it was clear they did not expect to put forth essential effort or they were not facing reality. Of course, it is up to us, who are thinking of supporting a candidate, to decide if we really believe.
If we believe, then we seek a variety of ways to promote and support the candidacy. And that should, in all eventualities, go to something more than sending glossy brochures and buying advertising.
Getting Their Attention
Advertising people will tell you that it takes repeated contact to make a connection with people. That piece of conventional wisdom I buy absolutely. So, then it becomes a matter of how we get their attention; and that takes thinking and planning.
In general, I also believe that most people don’t want to pay attention to politics. They have jobs, families, friends and a variety of interests. Why would they care about what we have to say, unless it is compelling or we make it compelling?
Standing Out and Making Sense
Standing out takes showing up in a variety of ways, especially when there is a lot of competition for attention. To do that takes careful attention to available alternatives. My special favorite is the one supported by research: A simple piece of literature stuck in the front door. That means a clear simple message for the particular segment of the population behind that door. It should be low cost and use trained volunteers for delivery. Why trained? Because not everyone is comfortable face-to-face, and often, people open the door when we are dropping off our message. Volunteers need to know how to handle it. And, of course, a lot depends upon finding people who are willing to get involved as volunteers.
There can be many parts to this smart, frugal ground game. It takes planning and paying careful attention, particularly as it relates to the location and campaign type.