How to Plan Your Political Campaign Ads

Good political campaign advertising has the power to sway voters and generate the vast majority of your campaign’s operational funds. But it needs to be done right to make an impact.

There’s nothing worse than a poorly written political direct mail piece or a cheesy TV commercial filled with stock photos of people smiling and shaking hands. While even the worst ads can help improve your name recognition, they can hurt your image and compel voters to support your opponent at the same time.

The first step to successful political campaign advertising is determining the underlying goal of the ad. There are typically 6 styles of campaign ads, each with its own unique purposes. Let’s take a closer look at each.

6 styles of campaign ads

1) Name Recognition
There’s very little to these ads, other than your name and the position you’re vying for. These are designed only to improve your name recognition among voters. Keep the message to a minimum. Depending on the position, some candidates even choose not to include their affiliation with a political party.

Suggested Reading: Building Name Recognition in Local Political Campaigns

2) Candidate Bio
Similar to name recognition ads, these ads (usually sent via direct mail) include a more in-depth bio about the candidate. Keep issues and stances to a minimum, or frame them within significant achievements outlined in the bio. Offer some information on your professional history, political experience, affiliations with other organizations and even your personal hobbies, when appropriate. The key here is to get voters to know you and warm up to you, before hitting them with the tough issues.

Suggested Reading: Tips for Writing Your Candidate Bio

3) Issues & Proposals
After voters are at least somewhat familiar with your name, it’s time to tell them what your campaign is all about. Now is the time to outline what you bring to the table: your proposals, policies and where you stand on the issues that are most important to your voters.

Suggested Reading: Political Campaign Message Focus

4) Candidate Comparison
Voters must be aware of the differences between you and your opponent. Make it clear with compelling messages that show how your proposals and previous policies differ from the other candidate. Be careful with negative ads. When done properly, negative ads can be very powerful. But when they are distasteful or too aggressive, they can actually do more harm to your own campaign, not your opponents’.

Suggested Reading: Negative Political Ads and Voter Effects

5) Appeals
Once you’ve built a list of supporters, it’s time to start asking for money! Directly mail letters and emails will become your most powerful fundraising weapons. Remind your supporters of the issues you’re fighting, what it’s going to take to make it happen, and how their contributions help. Be direct. Regardless of whether you’re trying to collect donations on your website or via checks by mail, your appeal needs to make it very clear you’re asking for money.

Suggested Reading: 7 Tips for Creating the Perfect Fundraising Letter

6) Get Out the Vote (GOTV)
After months of campaigning, calling voters, running ads, organizing events and knocking on doors, there’s only one thing left to do: make sure voters vote! GOTV direct mailers, door hangers and similar ads are designed for this specific purpose. They should remind voters of the election date and where their polling place is located.

Suggested Reading: A Guide to GOTV

Remember that, no matter large your ad budget, your advertising can only do so much. Be sure you’re supplementing your ads with aggressive groundwork and voter contact efforts, which are key to winning your election.

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