I've been doing this a long time, and what I constantly see is the politicians who spends their time raising big money with big events to pay for thousands of direct mailers will almost ALWAYS defeat the politician who spends their time driving to Young Republican/Democrat meetings, all over their home state, in the middle of the night.
I've been to big events, and Young Republican/Democrat meetings, and the latter is more depressing than a pottery Convention in somebody's basement. And, at the end, you may get a couple new votes. Was that really worth 5 hours of your time?
The key to a successful campaign is the perception you create around yourself, how much support your can drive, and how much money you can raise to accomplish the aforementioned goals. That means money, not a couple new votes from small time "events."
Now. many campaign contributions will come directly from your website. What you should notice through your campaign is heavy trickles of small donations, especially around traditional paydays, Thursday and Friday.
However, one of the most important efforts of your political campaign MUST be hosting large scale events to drive large donations from large donors. Notice the omission of the word "small."
This is because, from my experience, 10 small event with big donors will NEVER raise more than 1 large event with big donors. One of the reasons for this is the cost to promote and stage all 10, while clearly the cost, time and energy to promote 1 big one is significantly lower.
Think of it like this: What's cheaper to feed your family, doing one food shopping trip, or eating out several times?
So, now that you realize the importance for your time, wallet and efforts to do as many large scale events as possible, and do them well, here's how:
1) Target Wealthy Portions of Your Constituency
This can easily be accomplished with Facebook advertising, to higher socioeconomic users in your Party. What you'll do is create an ad for your event, along with the issue you'll be talking about. Once they click the ad, they should be brought to a landing page that allows them to signup and pay.
However, I HIGHLY recommend you run 2 advertising campaigns at once.
For example, you can build one landing page and ad that highlights your event, the cost, and the fact you'll be speaking about your plan to lower taxes, among other things.
The next landing page will be the same format, except it may highlight how you'll be speaking about education reform, among other things.
What you're doing here is canvassing your wealthier continuance to identify which issues are most important to them. Overall, one ad should have a higher click-through rate, and signup rate for the event once the campaigns are complete. This practice is known as A/B split testing, and it's there to find the best performing functionality, or in this case, ad.
Once you discover the most successful landing page from your first campaign, create a new one with a new issue. At your event, you will speak about all of these issues; however, the issue with the most "votes of ticket buys" will get the majority of your attention, of course.
So up until your event, you always have 2 ads with 2 separate issues competing against once another. Now the next time you do an event, you'll know exactly what the most popular issue is to promote.
2) Price the Ticket HIGH
People are paying for a special opportunity to meet and speak with you. As a result, you must price your ticket to reflect your value.
$200 is standard for a new politician, and $500 is pretty standard for a successful one. If you charged $200/ticket and your event drives 100 attendees, that's $20,000 for your campaign. That would cover my cost alone to ensure you defeat your opponents popularity online, in just one event!
3) Make it a Successful Event
While this will cost a little bit of money, ensure you rent out a quality venue for this event. Ensure it's catered by a reputable company, and ensure you have as much press there as possible. However, keep the costs as low as possible!
Also, be sure to come with boxes of campaign signs, brochures, buttons, mailers, etc.
Remember, this event may be the first impression these donors have of you, and just because they paid their ticket, doesn't mean they're done with your campaign. That brings me to #3...
4) Ask for MORE Money
I know these seems shrewd, but these donors know you are there to raise money, and they obviously want to help because they believe in you, and our system.
So, ensure you politely call everyone in the room to donate more money to your campaign to reach a certain goal. Your goal could be $10k or it could be $25k. I was at an event where we raised $50k.
No matter what, ensure people know that you're going to win, you're going to change things locally, or in Washington, to address the issues you spoke about.
Obviously you want your speech to be good, but you want to work the room with smiles and handshakes even better. Listen more than talk, and make eye contact until the very last second of each individual interaction. When you're in front of someone, they should feel like the only person in the world. This takes practice, but I know you can do it (I hope!).
Either way, have an ambitious final goal for the evening, and ensure all of your costs and donations are properly documents.
Don't compete — DOMINATE.
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