Campaign Management: Getting Started on Your Campaign Plan

The first and most important step in launching a successful campaign is writing your campaign plan. The plan is a detailed, comprehensive and informed outline of your entire campaign. It takes you from your announcement to your victory. You will not succeed without your campaign plan. To get started, you need to research some fundamental information.

What You Need to Know From the Beginning

How do you get on the ballot? Find out what the requirements are to qualify as a candidate, when the deadlines are and what paperwork you need to file to get on the ballot.

What is the total number of votes you need to win? Who's your base? You'll need a list of all the groups among which you'll find your votes, and why you can count on them.

How much money will you need? Develop a detailed budget of how much money you will need to spend and a detailed list of people you will raise it from.

Who do you need on your team? Determine what roles you will need filled, such as campaign manager, volunteer coordinator, field organizer, etc. and start to list people who could be recruited as paid or volunteer staff members.

What's your message? Begin by writing down a clear statement about your most compelling reason for running, and how voters will be better off if you're elected.

How will you reach voters? Develop a list of every way your campaign will contact voters, including door knocking, phone calls, appearances at events, direct mail, etc. Be sure to list which activities the candidate will do and which will be done by volunteers. Check the list each week, making sure everyone is doing his/her task, and that the campaign is running smoothly.

What tools, vendors and consultants will you need? Determine how you will manage data, track volunteers, conduct research, conduct polling, develop direct mail, etc.

What's going on? Do your own "oppo research" on yourself so you are prepared for anything your opponent might say about you. Research your opponent so you can define who s/he is for voters. Research the district and find out what is on voters' minds, what they care most about and what the pressing problems are facing your community.

What's happening in the larger community? Determine what other races will be competing for media attention and money; find out what matters outside your control could affect the race (e.g. economic recession, unemployment).

Is it legal? Research what the registration and reporting requirements are, which donors you need to disclose and what the contribution limits are. Secure an elections lawyer to advise the campaign.


Download our Webinar on Writing a Winning Campaign Plan for more information