It’s time to stop talking like statisticians and start engaging in real conversations that touch hearts, not just minds. How to do this? By building a campaign narrative that centers around individual people and what they care about. Here are 7 tips to help you do that:
1 Build a campaign message
When starting a campaign, building your brand should be high on your list of priorities. Ask yourself: what do you want people to think about when they picture your campaign? Craft your message in a way that conveys the benefits of your candidacy. This message is most effective when you state why you care about running for office and what you are going to do for people you care about once you’re there.
Your campaign message defines why you are running. It should answer the question: How is your candidacy going to improve things for the voter? Define yourself as the candidate that understands the voters’ pain and frustration with the things that affect their everyday lives.
Be sure to frame the message in terms that are easy to digest. Put into words why you are the candidate who understands what your voter wants and what their values are. Then, differentiate yourself from the opposition. Show how their policies will result in bad outcomes for families in your community. Emphasize how you care about individuals using personal stories or testimonies, rather than a faceless statistic.
2 Nix the Pie-Chart
Most people don’t like to be barraged by in-depth analytics and statistics. Elections are primarily driven by how much voters identify with a candidate as a person. Policy points are still important, but individual policy points and specific data are not as convincing for the average voter. Voters are looking for sincerity and authenticity, more than position papers.
Try incorporating social media tools such as gifs and Facebook videos to get your point across. Incorporating compelling data into fun, engaging formats makes it more likely that your message will be spread online. For more information on engaging voters on social media, check out American Majority’s course on advanced social media, and online image management.
3 Remember Elections are about people
Ultimately, elections are about individuals. Individual voters decide who to vote for, and individual candidates are elected to office. There is a personal element to politics, and people want to identify with other real people, not with abstract arguments.
No matter how powerful you think your platform might be, remember that your message needs to reach real people. Crafting your campaign message into narrative form is the easiest way to achieve this. Some key questions to ask: How does the voter fit into this narrative? How do my policies fit? How can I demonstrate how my policies will affect real people?
Instead of a revenue chart demonstrating how your tax cut could impact business growth, tell the story of a local business that would benefit from your ideas.
4 Help People connect with stories
Emotional appeals may seem to many conservatives to just be fluff, but that is just not true. Great leaders throughout history have used stories, and narrative form to communicate their ideas and their vision.We’re still telling those stories today because of the impact they made in our lives.
In other words, people care about how the statistics and data affect them and the people they care about. When campaigning, numbers aren’t going to turn heads unless they are connected to personal stories and demonstrate how those numbers have affected real people. So, appealing to people’s emotions is smart campaign strategy. We all have hopes and fears, showing how you can make a difference in what people worry about shows that you care.
5 Make The Moral Argument
Keep in mind that a story, and narrative format, is not the same as a moral argument. Moral arguments are value judgements which demonstrate the unchanging, underlying principles you stand for. Using moral arguments in a campaign is important. Conservatives tend to lead with intellectual, data driven arguments, while their opponents lead with moral arguments. Answering a moral argument with a data or facts-driven one is not going cut it. Worse, it comes across as uncaring. It’s a perpetual problem for conservative candidates.
How to solve it? The message that “I care about you, the voter” needs to be front and center. It’s going to receive a much warmer reception than a pie chart will.
6 Reshaping the narrative
Mike Tyson once said that “everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” It’s true. At some point, you’re going to need to reshape the narrative. If you don’t your opponent will do it for you, and not in the way you’d like. How to do this?
Anticipate your opponent’s attacks and prepare to attack their weaknesses. But remember, they will be trying to do the exact same thing to you. It’s often difficult to identify our own weaknesses–sometimes it’s best to ask a close friend or advisor you trust to identify your blind spots.
Some other tactics? Put the aggressors on the defensive. Put the opponents failures on display in front of every argument and every policy. When they’ve been making a moral argument, if they have failed, it will look even worse than if they were simply contradicting themselves with data-driven arguments. Show their failures and don’t be afraid to expose failed policies publically.
7 Up your Game
Put a human face on the arguments. Show how your policies have impacted or will impact individual your voters. Don’t forget to show how the failed or ineffective policies of your opponent have resulted in human suffering. Numbers are important and you should use them, but and foremost first demonstrate how those numbers affect the voter.
Make it personal with advertising and statements. Show through emotions how the things the voter cares can be done by the conservative candidate. Use stories whenever possible to communicate your ideas and vision–social media is a great resource for this.