Last month, I joined more than 100 transportation professionals from across the country at the Center for Transportation Excellence’s conference in Atlanta. The topic of the conversation: how to garner support for transportation sales tax initiatives. Check out the 11 tips I learned at the conference that will help make any campaign a success. Search the Twitter hashtag #cfte2013 for other nuggets of wisdom I pick up from the conference.

11 Rules for Campaign Success

No. 1: You are not your audience.

No. 2: Message has to be true AND believable.

No. 3: Spend money on research. If you can’t afford a poll, don’t bother.

No. 4: Localize initiative benefits (WIIFM). Go beyond expanded transit — what’s important to individual commuters and what’s the impact on daily life.

No. 5: Minimize opposition from the outset, use them to structure the plan if you can. Test, test, test your message!

No. 6: Use non-traditional spokespersons to carry your message. Co-opt opposition if you can by using their messengers.

No. 7: Highlight built-in accountability measures. Reassurance to taxpayers has to be part of every message.

No. 8: Use emotion responsibly. Reach people intellectually but also connect emotionally while not over-promising.

No. 9: Public education is a critical success factor. Increase awareness while seeking involvement.

No. 10: Repetition, repetition, repetition.

No. 11: Be bold!