In this video, 5 time tested ways to find a cause that will attract volunteers, contributors and appeal to voters when running for office.
Of all the tasks one must complete in getting a campaign off the ground, nothing is more important than the offer you put on the table.
What are you going to do for the voters in your jurisdiction if they put you in office?
What wrongs are you going to right?
What injustices are you going to correct?
What problems are you going to solve?
What are you going to do to improve the quality of life for people in your jurisdiction?
On the surface, I know this sounds basic, fundamental and obvious. But it is also a task that many candidates do not do well. And if it is not done well, nothing else you do will matter. For if voters are not interested in what you have to offer, you won’t attract support, or volunteers or campaign contributors.
Most candidates can come up with a few ideas on what they’d like to do. Many candidates fail to offer anything that is appealing, or they use the same old tired rhetoric voters have heard before and then wonder why voters don’t seem to care.
Last week I watched a candidate running for Mayor who proclaimed that he was going to balance the budget, run the city like a business, and keep the city out of debt. Those may be laudable goals, but a platform like that is about as exciting as watching paint dry.
Today, I am going to help you come up with exciting, original, creative ideas that you can use as you develop the offer you are going to make to the voters in your jurisdiction. There are five, and all are rich sources of information and ideas.
I am not here today to tell you what your offer should be. I am here to tell you that investing time in this in the early stages of your campaign before you announce your candidacy is one of the most important tasks you’ll ever perform.
Here are 5 ways to come up with an offer and a campaign platform that will have some sex appeal:
1). Sit down by yourself with a pad and pencil, and write down what you would do if you could wave a magic wand and make some good things happen in your community, city, state or country. What are you passionate about doing? What excites you? What moves you? What causes are important to you? Is there a threat you want to mitigate? An evil you want to vanquish? A villain you want to conquer? What make you happy when you see it? What makes your blood boil? What makes you want to jump out of your chair? What kind of stories in the newspapers interest you? What would you do to improve the quality of life for people in your community? When you are surfing the internet what videos do you watch or which articles do you read? If you are involved in any service or charitable organizations in your community, ask yourself what moved you to volunteer?
Spend a couple of hours just jotting down ideas that come to mind. You’ll easily have 15-20 ideas and probably twice that.
2). Read the local newspapers in your community for 7 straight days and note what you see. Newspapers by their nature cover pain, published stories about suffering, wrong doing, injustice, and problems that affect the fortunes of everyday people and their quality of life. I guarantee you this, you’ll see plenty of things worthy of your attention.
I’ll give you one example of a very sad story that had a very happy ending. A few years ago a middle aged small business owner sat down to drink his morning coffee and glanced at his local newspaper. It was a page one story:
An African American family had purchased a house in a white neighborhood. Word that they were soon moving into the neighborhood got around, and a few skin headed losers decided to leave a welcome present. They ransacked the house. Destroyed the sinks in the bathrooms. Poured acid on the floors. Knocked holes in the living room walls.
He was incensed by what he read, and decided to do something about it. He started calling contractors and talked a few of them into donating new sheet rock, paint, new sinks and plumbing fixtures.
He then called a local construction workers union and talked them into organizing a crew of workers to clean up the mess, repair the walls, and restore the house to its original condition. When the house was finished, it looked brand new.
When the work was done he organized a press conference, invited the family, the contractors, construction crews, and had a ribbon cutting as the family walked into their remodeled home with brand new paint, fixtures, and furniture.
Of course, he also quickly made a lot of new friends, and received a lot of attention from newspapers and local broadcast media. He quickly became a hero to many who appreciated his steely determination to right a wrong and correct an injustice. Not only did the family get a new home, the man responsible was soon, thereafter, elected to the highest office in the County. By an electorate who appreciated his compassion, initiative, and determination.
Newspapers can be a wealth of information about problems in your community that need to be fixed. And having a keen eye for items that can become your cause can be a ticket to power.
3). Get in Your Car and drive around. Note what you see. Traffic bottlenecks, dangerous intersections, or larger problems like troubled neighborhoods, gang activity, school facilities in disrepair, empty storefronts, signs of decay, roads or bridges that need to be fixed.
A few years ago I was in a car with a candidate for Congress, and as we waited at a railroad crossing for a train to pass she noticed that the train was pulling more than 80 black tanker cars. Out loud she said ‘I’ve never seen this before on this railroad. What do you suppose is in those tanker cars?’ It took three phone calls to learn the cars were filled with highly volatile bakken crude, that the railroad on which it was on passed by parks, playgrounds, schools, and that in the event of a derailment the cars were known to explode and spew a cloud of lethal gas that would instantly kill anyone near it. We also learned that the tracks on which it was running were in dangerous disrepair.
It became a cause in her campaign. To force the railroad to fix the tracks, upgrade dangerous railroad bridges, to force the railroad to pay the cost of training first responders who might have to evacuate neighborhoods and schools, to require that the railroad pay for their equipment.
You can find plenty of causes to champion simply by observing what you see driving around your community or city you want to represent.
4). Recruit a Brain Trust
Ask the 5 smartest people you know to join you for an evening just to brain storm. People you know who are bright, well-read, active in the city or community you want to represent. People who know what they are talking about. Some candidates call it a brain trust, others a mastermind group. Through the years I have participated in several mastermind groups. I found them all useful. The best were those where I was surrounded by people smarter than me, for I learned more than anybody else in the room.
These kinds of get togethers are fun, interesting, and structured correctly will yield a plethora of ideas that you can include in your campaign platform.
5). The fifth and final idea I’ll suggest to you today is go see the movers and shakers in your city or community. The head of United Way, President of the Rotary Club, or the Lions Club, prominent ministers, the President of the Chamber of Commerce. Ask questions about what they see and hear regarding challenges facing those they serve. These kinds of people are on the front lines, the first to hear about problems affecting your community, and often they have ideas on how to fix them. Once you have had your meeting, ask them for names of others you can visit.
In closing, I’ll mention one other source of rich information about what may be troubling people in your community. They are the barber who cuts hair, and the beautician who fixes hair. Everybody goes through a barber or a beauty shop. And quite often they share information with the person who fixes their hair, because its hard to do anything but talk when someone has their hands in your hair. Barbers and beauticians could write books about things they’ve heard. And quite often, they are rich source of information about what is happening in your community.
When you have done all of the things I mentioned in this video, you have a notebook filled with ideas. You can then start to narrow it down to a few that you regard as most appealing. More on that in a future video.
We’ve started a new Facebook Group for candidates who are running this year or plan to soon. It’s a place where you can get help with your campaign, get quick answers to any question you have so you can win an election and advance a worthy cause.
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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
How to win an election:
Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.