I helped on a campaign a few years back that was very creative. Creativity is a great thing for campaigns because media and voters are so inundated with campaign information that anything clever or different stands out.
Creativity also has to be reigned in a bit at times.
We weren't going to keep up with our opponent in fundraising, and we knew that from the start. He was an incumbent and was a great fundraiser. We made a concerted effort to get earned media to make up for some of the deficit in ad spending.
But we got a little too creative. In an effort to come up with something new and interesting, over the course of 6 months we rolled out a re-structure of county government, a plan to build a new arena, new development standards to make the community's progress smoother and a detailed plan to reduce crime.
While each of the plans garnered attention because they brought something new to the table, they had no common theme and by the end of the campaign, our candidate didn't really stand for anything voters could remember.
Our mistake was in adding to the plan as we went. Each new proposal came from brainstorming sessions throughout the campaign. Had we come up with each of them early in the campaign, titled them our "Job Creation Program" and rolled them out under that banner, we might have had more success.
Voters remember very little when they walk into the polling booth. For a city or county candidate, they might know one thing about you. They won't remember that you have four unique plans to address four problems in your community. But they might remember that you have a jobs plan, and that you had "some sort of programs to back it up."
When you begin your campaign, don't rush through the planning stages. Take your time articulating the vision you want to present to the voters and write out your proposals in some detail.
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