As John “Hannibal” Smith often said in The A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.” And believe me: this kind of satisfying “aha” moment, when you see all of the hard work and planning you did start to pay off, is one of the greatest things about working on political campaigns.
Of course, seeing your political campaign plan “come together” requires you to actually create a plan and scheduling in the first place. Planning the structure of your local election victory months ahead of time can be time consuming, but all of the efforts will be worth it when you put your political campaign blueprint into action.
As a political candidate, the sooner you realize that you need to plan your election strategy in advance, to schedule your election tasks, the sooner you will get elected to office. Sure, there are plenty of examples of politicians who get elected and re-elected without much of a campaign plan, but your odds of winning will be immeasurably better if you actually sit down and give some formal structure to your efforts.
We will cover some of the specific strategies and tested templates for planning a political campaign in future posts, but the most important thing is for you to realize that you need a campaign plan in the first place. I’ve worked with a lot of political candidates and on a lot of campaigns–including local races, statewide races, congressional races and even presidential races–and I’ve been amazed at the lack of campaign planning I’ve seen from some candidates.
Remember our mantra: the harder it is, the better it will work in a political campaign. Spending days creating a detailed campaign plan that covers all of the bases can be difficult and tedious, but it’s well worth the effort. And the more work you do before campaign season starts, the less you will have to do when it comes time to start busting out the shoe leather and elbow grease.
I’ve actually heard some local election candidates say that they are willing to work hard, but that they don’t think there is anything that needs to be planned out ahead of time. They would rather deal with the political campaign decision making when the time comes.
The reality is that there are plenty of elements of a local political campaign that you should be planning out ahead of time, no matter how small your race or district is. Door-to-door and neighborhood canvassing; campaign literature design; messaging, themes and issues; volunteer recruitment; fundraising and grassroots efforts . . . the list can go on and on.
Failing to put together a political campaign plan won’t doom you to lose your election, but it will make it much more likely that you’ll get defeated at the polls. Take some extra time to structure your local election victory ahead of time, and you’ll find out what it’s like to be a candidate who “loves it when a plan comes together.”