Overview to Campaign Development

Jan 13, 2015 Features

 So you’re ready for some change?

What To Do Now?


If you have decided to develop an advocacy campaign, you might be wondering what happens next.  The tangible result of campaign development is the campaign plan, its product is the functional campaign itself, and its purpose is to reach the campaign goal.  The campaign plan is thus made up of sets of tactics arrayed on a timeline, directed by strategic objectives, advancing toward the campaign goal, coordinated and carried out by someone.


However, before the campaign plan can be crafted, the overall context it operates in must first be understood.  This is done with an initial assessment of the situation. Then, once the plan is crafted a campaign needs a structure—an entity of some sort that provides the strategic guidance and accountability—to see it through to its goal.


tac·tics  (tăk′tĭks) n. 

1.The study of the most effective ways of securing objectives set by strategy,

as in deploying and directing troops, ships, and aircraft against an enemy.

2.A procedure or set of maneuvers engaged in to achieve an end, an aim, or a goal.


The ‘ABCs’ of Campaign Development

A good campaign plan allows individual tactical timelines to be adjusted without jeopardizing the overall campaign goal.  It adapts to shifting situations but keeps everything on task, moving toward the strategic objective, which has the goal as its primary reference point.  From the campaign plan, team or individual work plans can then be derived.


“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”   Sun Tzu


One straightforward approach to campaign development takes it in three stages: assessment, building the plan, and how to coordinate the campaign-as-an-entity.



Before a campaign can be developed, an assessment is needed to determine some fundamentals: What exactly is the win? Who is the decision-maker?  What is the decision date? And lots of particulars: Who most influences the decider?  What does the campaign have and need?  Who is the opposition? Etc.


Different tools can help answer these questions.  Many people are familiar with the ‘SWOT’ analysis that analyzes a situation according to ‘strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.’   The Advocacy Campaign workshops use a modified approach, one that considers four sets of forces or values that are in a dynamic relationship with their counterparts: Opportunities/Challenges, Calendar/Commitment, Allies/Antagonists, and Resources/Deficits.  Rather than being only oppositional as suggested by the traditional SWOT analysis, these relate to their counterparts in a more complex manner.  CalendarContext


For instance ‘Calendar/Commitment’ looks at the dynamic relationship between the anticipated campaign calendar, external calendars and events, and the level of public engagement–as attention, interest, and enthusiasm.  A dynamic relationship between the campaign calendar and the level of commitment it can generate can then be considered, which better allows tactics to be adapted and scheduled accordingly.


All this information can then be plotted in a strategic manner on an Asset Map and a Power Map, which show what a campaign has and has immediate access to as well as how it is connected, via relationships, to the decision-maker.  The Overview to Campaign Development workshop covers all these particulars about campaign assessment in detail.



The next stage is to build the campaign plan itself.  The information from the assessment is used to develop the ‘planks’ of the campaign plan—the campaign’s overall goal, its strategic objectives, and (initial) tactical outcomes.


The campaign goal is determined by answering the ‘What, Who and When’ question:  What is the preferred decision, who is the decision-maker, and when is the decision-date?


Determining what the main sets of tactics will be is one way to decide which strategies to use.  Many campaigns deploy ‘policy/legislative,’ ‘field,’ and ‘communication,’ strategies as broad-stroke ways of grouping their primary groups of tactics.


The objective for each strategy is then determined by considering where it needs to arrive at to do its part in compelling the decision-maker to make the correct decision by the decision-date.  The particulars of the plan are then derived from these sets of tactics, by anticipated outcomes grouped by date and strategy.



At a minimum a plan needs to depict what the campaign goal is—including the decision, the decision-maker, and the decision-date; what the strategic objectives are; and, when major tactical outcomes are anticipated.


The campaign plan or the campaign structure itself (or both) also need to clearly specify who is responsible for achieving the major tactical outcomes as well as for individual task areas.



Campaign development starts with a good assessment of the situation and develops carefully considered tactics that are always informed by the clear direction of good strategic objectives. These, in turn, position the campaign to win the goal.  Campaign development finishes with setting up the campaign structure itself and its leadership, protocols and other systems that will allow it to implement the plan and win.


Following the system outlined in the Art of Advocacy the structure serves the campaign’s strategic roles primarily —both vision and action, exhibiting the qualities of perspective (strategic vision) and steadfastness (strategic action).  Some of the main responsibilities of the campaign-as-entity are strategic thinking, coalition coordination, and accountability.


The Overview to Campaign Development workshop teaches the tools for campaign assessment and the steps for building the campaign plan, the first two stages in the process above.  It is the second in a series that begins with ‘The Art of Advocacy.’  The final workshop is a hands on practicum developing a campaign plan by assessing the situation, building the planks of the campaign, and crafting a plan.


In addition to these workshops, and general grassroots consulting, Mountain West Strategies offers consultation to help set up a campaign structure.  Each campaign-as-entity is best suited to being individually tailored to the many particulars of campaign and participants.


Advocacy Campaign Workshops

This post is developed from background materials for a recently introduced series of workshops to teach theory, skills and techniques behind successful advocacy campaigns.


Current workshops being offered include:


For more information on workshops, contact Mountain West Strategies at 970-510-0678.