What’s in a name, anyway? If you’re a political candidate who is running a campaign for office in a local election, the answer is “a lot.” Building name recognition is one of the most important things you can do to win a political campaign, and it’s one of the reasons why candidates spend so much money on multiple mailers, yard signs, billboards and advertisements in the final weeks of election season.
The reason why name recognition plays such a vital role in a successful political campaign for office is simple psychology: even though most voters don’t personally know the candidates they vote for, it’s human nature to want to feel comfortable with the person you choose to lead and make decisions on your behalf. Even if voters don’t know a single thing about a political candidate’s history, opinions or qualifications, they are much more likely to vote for him if they recognize his name.
So, how do you build political campaign name recognition and make winning more likely on election day? While it may be disappointing to some people, the fact is that with enough money, a candidate for office really can build significant name recognition quickly in the final month of the campaign season. One of the reasons why fundraising skills are so important for new candidates is that by purchasing enough direct mail, television and newspaper ads, and other types of media, their name recognition can increase markedly with the electorate.
I’ve heard different figures when it comes to the number of times that a voter needs to see a candidate’s name in order to recognize it, remember it and become comfortable with it. Some say that a voter needs to see your name five times over the course of your campaign to build the necessary name recognition; others say eight or ten times. Everyone agrees, however, that as a new local political candidate, you need to make sure that the average voter in your district gets to see your name numerous times if you want to win your election.
If your goal is to have your targeted voters see your name ten times during your campaign, don’t think that your door-to-door handouts or direct mail postcards are the only “hits” you can count in building name recognition. Also keep in mind that your name will be visible in your community on lawn signs, in letters to the editor, and in many other forms that you might not be taking into account.
Of course, building name recognition doesn’t necessarily have to be done in the last few months of a political campaign, nor does it require lots of monetary contributions. There’s another way to raise your name recognition in your district, and that’s by working hard to serve your community and the people in it over the course of many years.
Some of the most successful first-time political candidates are people who have lived in a community for a long time before they ever decided to run for office. These candidates have already built up their name recognition with friends, family and neighbors who have known them, volunteered and worked with them for years.
There’s another reason why this type of dedicated local candidate is a comfortable choice for many voters: because they are already known in the community as someone who is trustworthy, hard-working and who has a genuine desire to serve.