Category: Candidate Training

How does your Background Affect Your Campaign?

Our goal at Red America Consulting is to find candidates outside the traditional two-party model. There are lots of good people who want to give back to their community and be independent of Party control. But they may not have the time, money or expertise to start a campaign on their own.

Whatever your background, it will be very important to your campaign. It defines who you are and serves to explain to the voters what you will do in office and how it qualifies you to be worth their support.

Your background is not just your work, but everything about you – your upbringing, education, family life, hobbies, skills, volunteer work, personal interests, etc. Take some time to write down as much as you can that defines who you are, both good and bad. Include all the accomplishments and awards you’ve received. You won’t use many of them, but they can make good stories that show your perserverance and success.

Also write down your reasons for wanting the office you’re seeking and why you feel you will do better than your opponents.

You’ll be surprised when you match the two lists up and realize that your experience being the treasurer of a state-wide soccer league has given you unique insight into the city budget, or how your love of American history affected your decision to oppose the Incumbent.

Some may feel that there are aspects of their upbringing or family life that will be seen as negative. In most cases, the only negatives occur when they are revealed by outsiders in the form of opposition research. If you address your issues up front, most voters will see you as a “regular person” and be impressed by your honesty and also how you are dealing with your shortcomings.

Tell stories. Studies show that people react well to and remember stories MUCH better than lists of facts. Develop your core message and illustrate it with stories in ads, website content, speeches, interviews and debates.

Campaign Basics

Here are some basics to consider as you get started…

Research your target audience: Acquire a list of likely voters – people who have recently voted in similar elections – in your area and look at their profiles to find those who are most likely to support you.

Understand their concerns: Do research, but the best way is to talk to the voters as often as possible and make notes on their concerns. Also, keep track of local media – TV, radio and print – to see which areas get the most coverage. What are the hot topics? Social media is good, but not as representative.

Keep your focus on your targeted audience: You have two major resources, your time and your money. Don’t waste them on people who aren’t likely to support you. Use Direct Mail and targeted social media advertising. Door to door is an option, too, but it takes a lot of time and volunteers.

Develop a clear message: Most voters don’t have the time to carefully evaluate each candidate, so they often go with their first impressions. Make sure that what they hear about you is clear, simple, and memorable.

Keep your message consistent: You never know which sound bite or yard sign will catch a voter’s eye, so have a simple message. If there are several points to your campaign, make sure they have a common theme.

Develop a plan and a budget: Cover your campaign from startup to announcement, early campaign, primary, and final election. Set tasks, expenses and fundraising targets for each stage.

Raise money: Think through the various sources for support. Local business and community leaders, political friends, personal friends, and other organizations. Explore other areas such as online funding, and appeals through social media.