Your campaign message only works if you are able to convey it to the audience. Have you considered what happens if the voters get your message wrong?
As we discussed in another article, it is important to communicate with the voters on a regular basis. A campaign minus a communication strategy is like a mute guy in handcuffs. Yeah, terrible.
So how do you plan to get your message to the voter?
For that, you need to design a communication strategy.
Now campaigns of different sizes and working toward different goals would have to create their communication strategy to match their audience. Let us look at the steps to build a communication strategy for your election campaign.
- Get your Contact list
- Lay out volunteer activities
- Plan voter outreach through data
- Keep communication up
- Get through to undecided voters
- Give options to donors
- Be discovered by the voter
- Remind the voter to do their part
- Set up a trail toward a common goal
- Let visuals take over words
Sounds like something you already had plans for? Dive in to see if you got it all covered.
Get Your Contact List
In case this is your first campaign, you might be wondering how to get started on building a list of voters. For a town or city election, you could start from scratch and grow your own list of voters. However, for a larger electorate, the same approach would not be so feasible. There are, of course, various options to buy or rent a voter file to give your campaign a jumpstart. We have already discussed that in a recent post. Check it out to build your own voter list.
Lay out volunteer activities
With a contact list, you are definitely ready to kick off your actual campaign. For that though, you need campaign workers. These people would be the active supporters who are available to give you a hand at their convenience.
You should lay out different tracks for volunteer activities that they can choose from. Maybe a supporter likes a change of scene from their regular office work and prefers ground activity. Maybe they are unable to commute but still are eager to join in. Invite volunteers to sign up and give them different ways to act – on the ground, at your campaign center or from their mobile devices, anywhere.
Plan voter outreach through data
Using voter data to plan your communication will save you a lot of time and funds. Instead of broadcasting your message blindly, plan your campaign events and outreach in areas with clusters of likely voters first. It is better to hit an undecided voter with persuasive messages than sending campaign mail to your opponent’s supporter.
Send volunteers knocking at doors, greet interested voters at events or in their neighborhood, or give them a call. You should make sure to contact prospective voters at least once.
Keep communication up
Once a voter shows interest, you cannot risk losing them. They might never turn up to vote or worse, (expelled?) favor your opponent in case the interest in your campaign drops.
So your re-engagement strategy also should be laid out in advance. The voter who gets contacted once and gives a positive response needs to be updated on the campaign’s progress. Send them emails, drop campaign literate at their doorstep or invite them to participate in your social media group. That way you introduce a sense of community for supporters.
Get through to undecided voters
The voters who do not show immediate support should not be left out cold either. Maybe they are not interested in political activity and do not have a history of voting. Use voter data to understand their temperament and find voters who are still evaluating who to support.
They could be swing voters or even weak supporters of your opponent. Introduce yourself and invite them to understand your take on their issues. Alternatively, take the time to understand their perspective. By this, you can foster a positive relationship and win over their vote the proper way.
Give options to donors
The data would also show you the people who have a history of donating to past campaigns. Just because they are donors, however, does not imply they tend to give blindly. Your communication with donors has to win over their support.
Donors of different demographics and mindset would have their personal inhibitions to donating. You have to give them options to donate at every turn. Some may be open to sending funds through direct mail while others are more convinced by seeing their peers partake in a fundraising event. Set up routes to donate online, through mail or at events.
The attempt is not to force a contribution out of them but to get them to give willingly because they feel like they are part of the campaign.
Be discovered by the voter
All the mail you send out, the yard signs you put up or the media channels you speak in are aimed toward a single goal – be seen and heard.
However, the message should not be of a solution that you provide. Instead, the campaign message needs to get the voter from ignorance, into a state of engagement through interest and finally, get them to take action themselves. The message should fuel the action – be it the vote, a decision to volunteer or even donate to the campaign.
Remind the voter to do their part
The voter could arrive at the decision to take action early on during your first interaction or even take multiple encounters to get convinced. The decision though does not stay with them forever.
This is why you need a re-engagement strategy well in advance for every likely voter. This step is most important on the day of the election when you conduct your GOTV outreach. A decision usually stays clear in the voter’s mind for about three weeks before they need to be prompted again. However, on election day, it is fine to reach out to voters who do not show up more than once.
Set up a trail toward a common goal
As I mentioned, the campaign message should not encompass the big picture. After all, based on the voter’s perspective the issue and the solution may be way apart. Instead, the campaign should be a stepping stone toward a common goal for all like-minded voters. Offer the campaign as a critical path through which you intend to solve the problem as you see it.
The opportunity provided by your victory should be a way toward solving the voter’s personal issues.
Let visuals take over words
This is where visuals come into play in letting the voter define his own objective. It is difficult to place the voter’s personal issues at the front when you communicate your message through words. After all, using too many words would only alienate the voter.
Visuals are great because once they are seen, they evoke an emotional response that is in line with the voter’s mentality. Plan actionable goals where you make sure to be seen by the voter. Stay in their social media feed, plan face-to-face events and make the news. That is the way to be in the forefront of your voter’s mind.
These are ten steps to get you through a communication strategy for your next campaign. Go through every step in advance with your campaign staff so that your message does not get lost on any likely voter.