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Starting your First Political Campaign

So you’re passionate, strong and know you want to begin the challenging journey into politics. Or, maybe you’ve already won your first seat and now are looking to the future. In either case, this guide will help you discover what many of the professionals already know- so buckle up, strap yourself in and get ready for a ride.

It’s Never too Early to Start

One of the easiest traps to fall into is the belief that it’s too early to start your campaign. The reality is if you’re not already starting you’re probably behind the next person who wants this position more than you. Even if you’re not behind- this mentality to push yourself like you are in second place- is just the winning mentality you need to exceed even your own wildest dreams. Your party won’t make sure you win- your success is squarely in your hands. So get out there, and make it happen. But how?

Marketing yourself is a great place to start. Nobody will know who you are or what you stand for if you haven’t checked off a number of boxes. To start, word of mouth can be a powerful tool- but anyone who’s passed a story or secret along a chain of individuals can tell you how easily that message can be warped into something completely wrong. For this, we need physical and digital marketing to back up your organic message.

Yard Signs, Banners or media related stories about your campaign go a long way to solve this and ensure your message remains on point. But it’s important to remember the strengths of both physical marketing, vs digital. Physical marketing such as Campaign Signs has been around since as early as the 19th century- possibly even earlier than that. It’s a trusted source for your campaign message that can be easily distributed among the masses or tactfully placed in influential points around your city/county/state. But the biggest weakness of physical marketing is its stagnate message. Swapping out signs can be difficult or changing your political message can become all but impossible with the wrong messages being applied to your political signs.

Alternatively, this would be the strength of digital marketing- as the message can quickly be changed or enhanced with little repercussions from a digital standpoint. However, you would be wrong for believing that a purely digital campaign is the key to your success as there is one limiting factor to digital: not everyone is going to be online all the time. In fact, even with the surge of mobile users across the United States, we’re still only on our mobile devices on average 58 minutes a day. This is no small number when we consider how much advertising is condensed into this small period of time. But it shows us that digital marketing alone simply isn’t enough for your campaign.

In reality, successful physical and digital campaigns play to their strengths. Long tail messages such as your campaign logo, your name and the date of the election are powerful tools for ingraining information that isn’t likely to change into your audience’s memory. Whereas shorter-term focus items such as elements of your message, your stance on hot-button issues or personality pieces can be easily implemented into your digital strategy.

Never Underestimate your Budget

When starting your first campaign you may be unaware of how quickly the money you’ve raised will be spent. It’s always a smart tactic to raise more money then you intend, especially when we’re engaging a challenging incumbent. In this way, you’ll have extra funds in the event you need additional political signs or other media related challenges.

Your Opponent Won’t Make it Easy

If you’re going against a veteran or incumbent who’s been around for any length of time longer than yourself, you can expect they have better name recognition and probably will outspend you throughout the campaign. This puts an additional challenge for you to not only improve your own marketing, in the form of campaign signs or digital marketing. But also the quality of this material. If you have an eye for design- great! But most individuals will require someone else to take the reigns of the design elements and really make your campaign shine. It can seem trivial- your audience isn’t voting for the best graphically designed campaign logo or signs, right? Wrong. While your audience may consciously understand your political position, subconsciously this same audience is identifying your designs with your personality, your stances, and beliefs. Make no mistake, a well thought out campaign design can be as important as the very words you say.

Sol Sender led the design team behind now, President Obama’s logo design team in 2008. While many campaigns may go through 4-5 different designs, the Obama campaign went through as many as 15 designs before settling on a particular design. This fact emphasizes the importance of your design in today’s world. It’s no longer good enough (if it ever wasn’t) to simply settle with a splash of red or blue and a miniature American Flag. This is your campaign and you’re going to win because you’re the right person for the job- let your designs speak that message for you.

In many ways, this-this the goal of most designs in media. Words can be important, but an intended message for your audience that can only be spoken through the language of design can be even more important. The easiest belief to accept is one you’ve created in your own head. Meaning, a well-designed sign or banner that tells a story graphically will become more impressionable than simply saying ‘I support X’.

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