The 5-Step Plan To Winning Your Campaign

Regardless of how you try to change the world, you must first launch a campaign: an energetic effort to win support for your idea. Whether it’s a book launch, introducing a new product, or getting elected or promoted, these five steps will help you map out your path to success.


Regardless of how you try to change the world, you must first launch a campaign: an energetic effort to win support for your idea.

I am ramping up for my latest campaign–my book launch–so I thought I should study what it takes to design and execute it successfully. I read books, interviewed experts, and searched the web, and boiled it down to five steps you can take today to win support and change the world.

Step 1: Dissect your base

Your success depends on investing your limited resources intelligently. First decide how many “votes” you need to win (or in my case, how many books I want to sell). Then dissect your market, breaking people into three broad groups:

  • Supporters: people who are going to believe in you anyway.
  • Lost causes: people who are not going to join your cause no matter what you do.
  • Undecideds: people who could possibly join your cause but have not made up their minds yet.

Do not waste time or money on lost causes. Spend just enough on supporters to know they will join. Then turn your focus to the undecideds, concentrating specifically on the ones you can persuade at the lowest cost. 

What this means for me is that I should adopt a three-pronged strategy:

  • Reach all of my “supporters” (people who have taken my strategy workshop, bought my books in the past, attended webinars, and receive my newsletter) and invite them to buy my next book.
  • Selectively canvas undecideds: reach out to would-be “outthinkers”–people who outthink their opponents by embracing the new paradigm of business competition–with whom I have a connection (e.g., launch a speaking tour of alumni clubs from schools I have attended). 
  • Expand my base: reach out to would-be “outthinkers” with whom I do not yet have a connection. Specifically, I will get into airport bookstores since many “outthinkers” travel.

Step 2: Build your team

You cannot win alone. You need to enroll a team. This team should complement you. If you are the creative, you need an analytical partner; if you are the dreamer, you need the doer. In political campaigns, this balance is usually created with the campaign manager. 

Your team members should fill specific and necessary roles. Every campaign has to fulfill specific roles–polling, lawn signs, volunteer recruiting, etc. Make a list of what will need to be done and fill in leads for each activity.

Finally, your team should build the backbone of the campaign. While you can recruit volunteers, you need a base of professionals, like your accountant or your attorney, who will make sure your campaign operates cleanly and efficiently.

Create a list of every function you need to have performed, then fill in names next to each function.

When I inventoried the roles I needed to fill, I saw a need to add three people to my team: a publicist, speaking agent, and intern.


Step 3: Craft your message

You need to find an authentic message that will build excitement for your cause. If you get the right message, you not only win votes/customers/readers, but you get support from volunteers, which are critical to your cause. There are three levels to your message:

  • The goal: Figure out what your end goal is. Are you seeking to get elected, raise capital, or, as Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek) said, knock the Guinness World Records book from the number one slot (where it is at this time every year)?
  • The emotional purpose: People don’t want to vote for you or buy your book. They want what those wins will make possible. They want children to have better opportunities, they want a better life, they want to change the world. Ferriss wasn’t trying to sell you a book; he was trying sell you the idea of working four hours per week.
  • The frame: A frame is a set of words that go together, like car, tire, and road. When you use a word it automatically pulls up related words in the listener’s mind. Think of your message’s frame. In politics your frame might be “the economy” or “doing what is right.” Make sure the words you use keep coming back to the frame.

These three levels clarify things for me nicely. My goal is to sell 40,000 copies or more in the first year. My “purpose” is “anything you want is possible”–you can outthink any challenge. My frame is “the revolution”–we are experiencing a fundamental shift in how people and companies organize. Get on board, join the movement.

Step 4: Build your “brochure”

You’ve clarified your message. Now put it into form. This means designing your logo, creating your web site, building your press-kit, assembling your endorsements. The imagery, colors, and specific words you choose here are critical. Think carefully about what associations your audience will have with each one.

I’ve had my designers come up with new imagery and colors. My revised website should be up in two weeks. Everything I produce will follow this new imagery. 


Step 5: Set the pace

A successful campaign demands energy. It is critical to keep your team informed and able to respond quickly to new twists, and to manage your team’s energy carefully so that they move quickly enough without burning out. Set a short, daily morning call lasting no more than 15 minutes. When the campaign hits a crescendo, add a second daily call in the evening to wrap up the day. On top of that set a longer weekly call (say one hour). Check out Verne Harnish’s Mastering the Rockefeller Habits for great specifics on how to do this. I’m starting my weekly calls next month. 

I hope these simple steps give you the clarity that they gave me to launch your campaign. I now have a strategy. With your help, in six months, we will show how the strategy worked.

[Image: Flickr user libraryman]


About the author

Author of Outthink the Competition business strategy keynote speaker and CEO of Outthinker, a strategic innovation firm, Kaihan Krippendorff teaches executives, managers and business owners how to seize opportunities others ignore, unlock innovation, and build strategic thinking skills. Companies such as Microsoft, Citigroup, and Johnson & Johnson have successfully implemented Kaihan’s approach because their executive leadership sees the value of his innovative technique. Kaihan has delivered business strategy keynote speeches for organizations such as Motorola, Schering‐Plough, Colgate‐Palmolive, Fortune Magazine, Harvard Business Review, the Society of Human Resource Managers, the Entrepreneurs Organization, and The Asia Society