If you're challenging an incumbent, there's a good chance you'll get out-raised in campaign donations. It's to be expected, but you can compete. There are a handful of ways to help you overcome a money disadvantage.
- Get Earned Media. I talk about this in some detail here. There are a number of ways to get earned media. You'll just need to start with a little creativity and effort. The low hanging fruit: take the time to put together a media list, ask the writers who might cover your race to meet for coffee, so they know who you are, and send out sporadic press releases.
- Be efficient with your time & money. The best way you can do this is to target who you contact. Most voters know who they're voting for before the campaign even starts: they're supporting the Republican or the Democrat (and even in non-partisan races, there's usually an R or a D). You don't generally have to waste your time on those guys - focus your door to door and your ads on the undecided voters. And target it very well. It's one of my favorite things to do - shoot me an email here and I can help you target your race.
- Get creative with your campaign. Whether it's your efforts to garner earned media, how you talk about the race, events you hold or your policy positions, use a little creativity. Sit down with a notepad and think about your race, then write down some ways you can be more interesting than your opponent. Voters and media like interesting.
- Use volunteer staff. This sounds obvious, but many don't even make an effort or wait until it's too late. Post an ad for a campaign manager at the local college or ask local party officials to help you find one. Be a good boss to work for, write them a recommendation, and give them enough freedom to run the campaign that it will be a resume builder for them. Someone will bite if you put enough effort into it.
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