[Note: The observations, impressions and interpretations found here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Jeff Johnson, who's campaign this series is about. This series is about the marketing behind Jeff's campaign. This is part x in a series. Parts one, two and three can be found here (part one), here (part two), here (part three) and here (part four).]
It was mid-June, and Jeff Johnson had committed to his run for Lake Forest Park City Council. Now he needed money. He couldn’t fund the campaign himself, and without donations from others, he wouldn’t have the money to pay for yard signs, a website, a direct mail piece, advertising or handouts.
To raise money, Jeff needed a letter that established his credibility, illustrated that he was going to make a serious effort and share the message upon which he was going to run so potential donors could decide if it was a message they could back.
This would be our most aggressive stand to date against the Prop. 1 tax increase and the first messaging experiment on taking on the current Council and the incumbents who were running without actually saying so.
We also wanted to use the letter to spell out exactly what we’d be doing with the money – a courtesy we figured any donor would expect before parting with their cash. And if you followed Jeff at all on his Facebook page during the campaign, you’ll see a lot of the themes around openness and communication that have been at the core of his posts.
The following is the letter we wrote and sent to Jeff’s friends, family and people Jeff knew would be sympathetic to the cause. In the end, it netted about $4,800 – just short of the $5,000 we were hoping for. But it was still enough to do everything we wanted. This was the contents of the letter:
I have some exciting news, and I’d like you to be the first to know:
I’ve decided to run for the Lake Forest Park City Council.
As you may know, Lake Forest Park has been home to my family for the past 28 years. My daughter Katie went through our school system, and my boy, R.J., just finished up at Brookside Elementary.
Personally, I’ve immersed myself in the community by mobilizing volunteer efforts when our neighbors needed help. Professionally, I’ve built and grown my family-owned business in this area – a business that I’m proud to say serves many of you.
I’ve decided to campaign for City Council because I’m concerned that our City Council isn’t meeting our citizen’s expectations.
Last year, Proposition One was a wake-up call. Like 78% of Lake Forest Park, I voted against it. But it shouldn’t have even come to that. Instead of making tough budget decisions, the Council placed Proposition One on the ballot. They expected us to bear the burden by increasing the city’s portion of our property taxes by 38% in the first year alone.
Unfortunately, to run an effective campaign and introduce myself to voters, it will not only take my time and money, but the time and money of my supporters to spread the word. To compete effectively, I’m asking you now if you would please be willing to donate your money, time or both.
I do not take your support for granted, and I promise you now that with your donations of time and money, I will run a fully committed and efficient campaign. With your financial support, we will be using your contributions to:
- Create yard signs and other marketing materials
- Make a direct mail piece
- Build a website – jeffjohnsonforcouncil.com
With your donation of time and support, we will:
- Host “coffees” where I can meet with your local friends and colleagues
- Go door-to-door (“doorbelling”) raising awareness and promoting my candidacy
- Collect citizen endorsements for my campaign materials
- Distribute and post lawn signs
- Spread the word to your friends, family and other residents
Most importantly, I would like your ideas. I want you to be a part of my campaign and my tenure on the Council, and it would be great to hear your thoughts on everything along the way.
All of the campaign materials for past council elections mention listening to citizens. But actions speak louder than words. I built a business that has grown every year for over 20 years. You can’t do that – especially in auto repair – without listening to and earning the trust of your customers. While on the council, all of Lake Forest Park will be my customers. And I’ve proven I respond to my customers.
The Council needs to know what LFP citizens like you and me are thinking. So let’s put an optimistic and experienced LFP citizen on the Council.
Enclosed is a return envelope. If you can, please enclose a donation and check the boxes to let me know how you might be able to help. I’m thankful for any way you can support this effort, and I’m hopeful we can work together to win this election.
If you have any questions or wish to contact me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 206-364-2979.
Thank you so much for your support. I look forward to working with you.
Carry on to part six here. Hope you’re enjoying this, so far.
- My name is Jon Friesch, and I find this sort of messaging challenge really interesting.