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Running for Office? Avoid these 5 Cardinal Political Campaign Sins

Every day, somebody somewhere decides to take up the gauntlet for what they believe in and begins the process of running for office. It is not a choice for the faint of heart, especially given the workload involved in crafting a successful political campaign!

And there is nothing more disheartening than entering into the race with the best of intentions, only to see them fall flat because you haven't built a solid structure underneath you.

Make no mistake about it. This foundation-building is not the glamorous part of running for office. But it is the foundation that all winning campaigns are built upon.

In this article, learn about the five cardinal campaign sins to steer clear of when you are running for office.

[RELATED: How to Run for Office: 5 Steps to Create a Winning Campaign Strategy]

Sin #1: Not Having a Campaign Website

Depending on who you ask, there may be as many as one billion websites in existence today. Compare this with the current number of people on Earth, which is estimated to be 7.53 billion. So one billion websites is a heck of a lot of websites! Why are there so many websites, because websites provide a good source of information and encourage visitors to act. Creating a successful campaign website has never been easier.

Truly, there really is no excuse to not have a campaign website today, and not just because the voters expect it.

[RELATED: Campaign Website 101: 5 Requirements to Create a Winning Political Campaign Website]

With turnkey website solutions tailor-made to the needs of campaigning candidates, having a campaign website when you are running for office is one of your easier tasks.

Without a website, you have no way to interact with voters in real time. Everything from taking donations to distributing yard signs, recruiting volunteers to spreading the word about your mission and campaign message, conducting voter information to issuing invitations to rallies and (of course) your victory party becomes much more difficult and time-consuming.

With more and more voters interacting with websites and online content primarily from their mobile devices, a website is also critical for integrating with mobile-only users.

But here, not just any website will do. You need a mobile-optimized website, which means you need at least two versions of your website: one for viewing on larger-screen devices like desktops and laptops, and one for viewing on smaller-screen devices like tablets and smart phones.

Having a poorly optimized or non-optimized website will speak louder than words to younger voters in particular, who will be turned off by this and will likely look elsewhere for a candidate they can relate to.

When you are running for office, every second of your time counts because no one can replace you.....and your website is the virtual you. Run without it and prepare to lose.

Sin #2: Not Having a Social Media Presence

Your website is also the hub around which all social media campaigns revolve. Your website leads to and from your social media accounts. It connects voters from different platforms together and helps to unify your strategy.

Social media is one of the principle methods of directing traffic to your website and thus to your campaign. This is not a difficult assertion to back up with facts. President Obama became so good at using social media that many credit these tools with netting him the presidency. And of course current incumbent President Donald Trump's use of Twitter is near legendary at this point. 

Each social media platform will appeal to a different subset of voters. You can easily push out content related to your stance on issues, upcoming events, and engaging calls to action. Your social media should work hand in hand with your campaign website and overall online presence to increase awareness for your campaign.

Today, integrated website packages exist to help politicians connect their main website with each social media account in an effortless and unified fashion.

Sin #3: Not Using Email Marketing

If there is one thing all political candidates aspire to have, it is a successful email list. This list is like voter gold as you climb the political ladder and even after your political career has concluded.

Email marketing is a powerful tool to stay connected with different groups of constituents about different causes and issues that may not be shared by your entire voter base.

Email marketing also allows very targeted communications, from donor thank-you messages to calls for volunteers, special invitations to major campaign contributors, and invites to rallies.

The best website packages for politicians will integrate email list group tools and popular third-party email services such as MailChimp.

This level of integration allows voters to sign up for your email list right from your website and even select which specialized list groups they wish to be added to.

Sin #4: Not Consulting an Expert

So let's say you now have your seamless, integrated, mobile-friendly website up and running. You have populated your new website with carefully curated content to share your campaign mission while running for office.

You have modules in place to recruit voters and volunteers, accept donations, issue yard signs, collect email addresses and connect with each of your social media feeds.

But this is not your campaign. These are the tools, the building blocks, the foundation for your campaign. You still have to learn the ropes of actually using each of these tools effectively for the purposes of running your successful campaign.

Here, it is a mistake to try to learn at the grassroots level. That is where your voters are, so you need to be at least one step ahead. To get there you need help from an expert who can support you to craft the kind of marketing campaign that will generate viral support within your constituency and in the greater community.

Learning to use these tools effectively is best done through mentoring by someone who already knows the power of each tool and how to harness that power for good.

From organizing your daily social posts to populating your website blog to crafting customized email drip campaigns to different email subscriber groups to keeping on top of voter forums and creating eye-catching yard signs that will send new constituents your way, when you are running for office there just isn't enough of you to go around. And you don't have time or room for mistakes.

Working with an expert marketing campaign consultant will get you where you need to go quickly and effectively. To find someone to work with, consult other campaigns in the area or consider enrolling yourself in an online political campaign management course.

Sin #5: Lack of Authenticity

Finally, even if you have every tool you could ever want or need in place, up and running and working perfectly, there is still one final piece - YOU. You have to show up as you, authentic you, passionate you, purposeful you, inspiring you. Make sure every voter facing piece of content (website, emails, ads, etc.) reflects who you are and what you hope to accomplish. Far to often, candidates become robotic and loose their personality. Let your personality shine throughout every piece of content. Voters will appreciate it.

It might seem like it is possible to hide the real you behind a slick social campaign or streamlined campaign website design, but it just isn't. Voters are too accustomed to interacting over social media, email and online and can easily detect a lack of authenticity, transparency, showing up as the real you both online and offline.

Having the right tools in place can support you when running for office and again once you are in office. And working with an expert to build and craft your tools can help you develop your voice, your message and your confidence to deliver that message in front of a live as well as an online audience.

But ultimately, your campaign is all about you. It is vital to bring the real, authentic you to the table each and every time when you are running for office.

By avoiding these five cardinal sins of political campaigns gone wrong, you set yourself up to serve your voters by sharing your mission and vision in an authentic, compelling, viral way. Having a unified online and offline campaign focus will win you constituents and propel them to the polls.

Jace Holyoak


I am a marketing professional. I have operated a marketing/political consulting company for several years now and worked on dozens of political campaigns. I have expertise in website creation, SEO, and digital marketing. My passion has always directed me to share my beliefs, and train and fellowship others on their journey to do the same. 


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