Now that this year’s Election Day is behind us, most people who are serious about running for office next year, or the year after, have already started thinking about their coming campaigns.  As we’ve said before on Local Victory, the next campaign begins the day after Election Day.  Whether you’re running for an open seat, challenging an incumbent, or trying to get re-elected, now is the time to get started.

Today, we present 4 important tips for getting your next political campaign off the ground.  If you’re running for office next year, or the year after, use these tips to get started.

1. Know How to Win a Campaign

Too many candidates simply throw their hats in the ring, and hope that they’ll figure it out as they go along.  While I’m a big proponent of people who are new to the political arena jumping into races, I’m not a big fan of the “we’ll see how it goes” school of thought.  If you’re running for office, run to win.  If you’re running to win, you better know how to win.

The first place to start is by reading a primer on how to run a winning political campaign.  Local Victory’s The Complete Guide to Getting Your Campaign Off the Ground is a good, quick read on the subject.  For a more complete look at every aspect of running and winning your campaign, read Local Victory’s How to Win Any Election.

Next, talk to some people who have run for office in your area before.  Find out what works, and what doesn’t.  Some tactics work better in your area than in other areas, and vice versa.  Talk to an old political hand to get some practical advice.

2.  Write Your Campaign Plan

Chances are, you won’t win your election if you don’t have a written campaign plan.  You could win, but if you did, it would either be luck, or because of a huge voter registration advantage.  In races where there is any kind of competition, you need a plan to win.

Your plan doesn’t have to be a novel.  You don’t need to write a 300 page strategy guide that lays out every single person who will help you and every single event you will attend.  Instead, sketch out your major strategies: fundraising, communications, grassroots.  Think through the campaign calendar, your budget, and your contacts.  Write it down now, before you get into the heat of battle.

3.   Gather Your Team

If you’re running for office, chances are, you’ll need help.  Most candidates need help fundraising, knocking on doors, placing yard signs.  You may need to staff a campaign office.  You should probably have a campaign manager, even if that person is only a volunteer.  Start gathering your team now… get their input on your plan, give them tasks to accomplish, get them committed and started right away.  For more on building a great team, read 5 Team Members Every Campaign Needs.

4.  Start Your Fundraising

It’s really never too early to start your fundraising.  Whether you need $5,000 or $5 million to win your election, it’s important that you start raising that amount as early as you can.  Once you get into the heat of the election season, you’re going to have plenty to do… rallies to attend, events to organize, doors to knock on.

The best time to start your fundraising is right now.  The best place to start is with your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues… those who know you best.  Tell them you’re running for office and why, and get them to invest in your campaign.  To help get you started, read Political Fundraising 101.