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Get Back to The Future: The Timeline Rewind Approach To Campaign Planning

When preparing for your 2024 independent expenditure (IE) campaigns, it’s essential to adopt a forward-thinking approach. Of course, you want to fully map out what actions you need to take today, tomorrow, and each subsequent day as you move closer to Election Day.


However, a highly effective strategy involves planning your campaign in reverse, starting from Election Day and working backward to the present. Think of it as hopping into a DeLorean, generating 1.21 gigawatts of electricity through the flux capacitor, and traveling back in time to ensure all critical milestones and deadlines are met.


Why Plan Backwards?


  1. Comprehensive Preparation: Working backward from a fixed endpoint ensures that all necessary steps are accounted for.

  2. Deadline Management: This approach helps manage deadlines more effectively, preventing the common issue of last-minute cramming.

  3. Resource Allocation: It allows for better resource allocation, ensuring that every phase of the campaign receives adequate attention and resources.

  4. Stress Reduction: By outlining all necessary actions ahead of time, you can reduce the stress typically associated with campaign planning.


What Next?


1. Determine Campaign Length

The first step is to decide the length of your campaign and the desired launch date. Calculate the duration of your voter-facing campaigns from Election Day. Campaign lengths can vary significantly; some may last as short as two weeks, while others could extend up to eight weeks or more. Our team at REAL Strategies can assist in determining the optimal campaign length based on your specific needs, including your election tools, district size, voter targets, and budget. Collaborating with experts ensures that your campaign plan is comprehensive and tailored to your goals.


2. Initiate Campaign Planning

Once you have determined the campaign length, the next step is to begin detailed planning. This involves outlining the campaign tools, schedule, messaging, creative designs, and target audiences. Ideally, you should start this process at least one to two weeks before your planned launch date. Early planning allows for the consideration of various strategies and tools, giving you a competitive edge. We can provide invaluable insights and support during this phase, helping you develop a robust and effective campaign plan.


3. Committee Approval Process

Campaigns often require approval from various committees and stakeholders. Calculate the time needed for this review and endorsement process. This includes tasks such as filling out grant applications, securing necessary signatures, and obtaining final approvals from your campaign committee. Allocating adequate time for this process is crucial to avoid any delays that could derail your campaign timeline.


4. Conduct Candidate Interviews

If your campaign involves supporting specific candidates, scheduling interviews well in advance is essential. Determine when you need to start and finish these interviews to make informed decisions on whom to support. Continue thinking backward to ensure that all necessary preparations are completed on time. This includes reviewing candidate declarations and deciding which candidates to interview based on feedback from your committee and staff. Scheduling approval committee meetings and reviewing endorsement processes or scorecards for incumbents are also critical steps during this phase.


5. Initial Selection & Review

To start candidate interviews, you need to know which candidates have declared and who you want to talk with based on committee and staff feedback. Ensure that you have your approval committee meetings scheduled during this time. This phase also involves reviewing your endorsement process or scorecards for incumbents, ensuring that your campaign aligns with your strategic goals and objectives.


6. Member and Client Communications

Effective communication is a cornerstone of any successful campaign. Integrate various forms of client communications into your calendar, particularly for endorsement communications to members and GOTV messaging. Include reminders for voter registration and deadlines for absentee and early voting. Your Secretary of State's election calendar will provide important dates and deadlines. Timely and consistent communication helps keep your members informed and engaged, boosting overall campaign effectiveness.


7. Set Your Start Date

Once you have mapped out all the necessary steps and allocated adequate time for each phase, set your start date. Don’t wait to begin planning. Starting early and constructing your campaign calendar well in advance ensures a smooth and effective campaign process. By initiating your campaign planning now, you can avoid the pitfalls of last-minute rushes and ensure that every detail is meticulously planned and executed.


Benefits of Reverse Planning

By planning backward, you create an efficient campaign timeline that allows for adequate lead time for each step. This method reduces stress and ensures comprehensive preparation, ultimately increasing your chances of success. Here are some key benefits:


  • Enhanced Organization: A reverse timeline helps organize tasks in a logical sequence, making it easier to track progress and make adjustments as needed.

  • Improved Time Management: By setting clear deadlines for each phase, you can manage your time more effectively and avoid the stress of last-minute preparations.

  • Better Coordination: A well-planned timeline facilitates better coordination among team members, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.

  • Increased Flexibility: By planning in reverse, you can identify potential bottlenecks and challenges early on, allowing you to address them proactively and adjust your plans as needed.


Campaigns can be hectic, but reverse planning offers a structured approach to managing your timeline. The best news is you don’t need Doc Brown or his crazy car for any of this— simply by starting from the future and working your way back, you’ll be using a proven strategy that ensures everything falls into place perfectly. This approach not only reduces stress but also enhances the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your campaign.


Optimize Your Campaign with REAL Strategies


Contact REAL Strategies today to develop a tailored campaign plan that meets your unique needs and ensures a successful 2024 election cycle. Our team of experts is here to guide you through every step of the process, from initial planning to final execution.


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