THE Scottish Greens have poached the marketing guru behind the SNP campaign that propelled the Nationalists into Government.

Ian Dommett, who came up with the successful ‘It’s Time’ slogan in 2007, has been hired by the Greens at a moment when the party is flush with money and becoming increasingly professionalised.

Apart from in 2003, when the Greens secured 7 MSPs, Patrick Harvie’s party has struggled to make a significant electoral breakthrough at Holyrood.

Harvie was the one two Greens returned in 2007 and he and Alison Johnstone were the only candidates elected four years later.

The party was deemed to be weak organisationally, operated on a shoestring budget, and failed to match their political rivals on making voter contacts.

However, the independence referendum has transformed a party with a reputation for being nice but unsuccessful.

At the end of 2013, the party had 1,178 members, but the post-referendum total stands at around 9,000.

The effect of the surge has been an influx of cash that means the party will no longer rely on what one insider described as “coffee mornings and jumble sales”.

Figures from the Electoral Commission show that the party’s total income rose from £93,870 in 2013 to £341,457 last year.

In the same period, membership subscriptions jumped from £23,895 to £183,275 and four-figure donations are also being made.

Party strategists say the Greens are now well-placed, by dint of the membership boost, to transform a once-amateur organisation into political contenders.

Some of the money is being used to boost the party’s staffing contingent, which used to consist of an office administrator and part time bookkeeper.

The new structure includes a finance officer, events officer, operations manager, full time office administrator, office assistant and a campaigns and communications officer.

Extra space has also been taken up at the party’s headquarters in Edinburgh to house the new employees.

In the run up to next year’s election, the staffing is expected to triple in size, while the £100,000 spent ahead of the last Scottish Parliament campaign will be at least three times bigger in April.

Dommett, who worked for the SNP for around 8 years, has also been hired to craft a marketing and messaging strategy for the Greens.

He will conduct focus groups and opinion polls in an attempt to find the party’s 'unique selling point' with the electorate.

Dommett told this newspaper that the Greens offer a "clear vision for society and would be a constructive voice in parliament”.

He added: “I'm looking forward to working with them to construct a campaign which elects a record number of Green MSPs next May."

In the past, the Greens had no professional system for processing the canvassing returns activists collected on the doorstep.

The party is in talks about using the Nation Builder software that has become a staple of party campaign strategies.

Harvie and his colleagues are also learning lessons from the Australian Greens, which is considered to be one of the most successful environmental justice parties in the world.

Senior AG figures have been in Scotland to brief the Scottish sister party on organisational issues.

Harvie’s campaign in Glasgow Kelvin next year, where he is trying to dislodge the SNP, is modelled on deputy AG leader Adam Bandt’s successful campaign to win in Melbourne.

The SNP is expected to win nearly every first-past-the-post seat at the Holyrood election, so opportunities exist on the regional Lists.

An opinion poll published recently put the party on around 8%, which would give it 9 MSPs.

Harvie said: “The Green surge has allowed us to professionalise across the board, whether it's in the expanded staff team, new data infrastructure or high quality research and development of our key messages for next year's election. This is a transformative moment for the Scottish Greens.”