Paranoia and fear has enveloped a once great nation. In retrospect we should have seen it coming. It’s been such a crazy year. Leicester City won the English premier league. The UK exited the E.U. And now Donald J. Trump is president of the United States of America. “Wake me up, I’m dreaming” I hear you say but this is no dream (or nightmare I might add). Against all predictions, one of the most divisive figures in American history has been voted by the American public to lead their great nation.
But how did Donald Trump do it? Much like marketing a new product/business, success is all about brand recognition and winning the hearts and minds of your audience. Donald Trump it seems is one of the craftiest and most effective marketers of them all. I’ve watched his campaign with interest and intrigue from the beginning.
Here are a few marketing nuggets that I notice helped Donald trump Hilary Clinton and seize power:
1. Know your audience
Donald knows who he is speaking to. He does not try to placate the masses and gain universal approval. Not everyone will like him. Consequently, he speaks to those that are most likely to listen – his niche market. This group is the working class of America. “The Forgotten man”. The millions of working class who lost their jobs as a result of increasing globalisation and failures of the Obama administration. Those angry at the increasing disparity that is occurring between the rich and poor in America. People who were promised change but now find it’s all they got in their pocket.
Donald’s marketing message is directly tailored to this disillusioned group of Americans. On the day before the election he said chillingly “Vote for me, what else have you got to lose?!”. The Democratic Party failed to address the unemployment and underemployment suffered post-recession. A vote for Trump represents the middle finger to the Democrats and the rich.
2. Address a problem/need
Donald has capitalised on the fears and worries of Americans about immigration, terrorism and economic recovery. As Donald would know, in business you cannot market a product if it doesn’t solve a pre-existing problem or a need. Donald’s policies are all built to please his audience and ease their aforementioned fears and worries.
He is staunchly pro aggressive border control and stopping illegals entering and staying in America. He wants a ban on all Muslims entering the country in case they commit terrorism offences. In addition, he wants to keep companies in America as well as bringing more back, thereby halting the outsourcing of jobs to other nations.
3. Be remarkable
Marketing guru, Seth Godin, always preaches that if you want to stand out, you must be remarkable. By this he means your marketing message must be something so noticeable and different that its gets people remarking about you. I’ve been reading Barack Obama’s book the audacity of hope lately and he mentions the most important thing you need in politics is name recognition. If people instantly recognise your name and what you represent, then they are more likely to vote for you rather than someone they don’t know. Better the devil you know as the old adage goes.
Everybody knows Donald Trump. A self-made millionaire tycoon and celebrity from The Apprentice. He wears his heart on his sleeve and helps get media attention through his brash personality. Throughout the election his remarks and discretion’s covered innumerable column inches. “Build a wall” - his response to stopping immigrants entering from the Mexican border. “It was just locker room talk” – his reply to accusations of sexist remarks.
4. Catchy slogan
“Make America Great Again”. An amazingly emotional, evocative and nostalgic slogan from Donald Trump. It encapsulated exactly what his campaign intentions were and helped extricate him from the competition. Appealing to the dreamer in all of us, it acts as a reminder of how good things were back in the day. We all look back fondly on the past. The slogan instantly envisioned a halcyon life under Donald Trump’s presidency. A fallacy perhaps but one which the disenchanted working class yearned to believe.
This was in stark contrast to Hilary’s campaign slogans “I’m with her” and “Stronger Together”. These slogans lack emotion and power behind them. Contrastingly Obama’s “Yes we can” was empowering to all Americans and suggested a bright future where anything is possible. Do not underestimate the power of a slogan as it can instantly transmit what you or your business represents.
5. Authentic communication
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump does not pretend to be anyone else. He is not a stage actor and says what he thinks whether you like it or not. He is not your typical politician. In fact, he is not a politician at all. There lies his appeal. Most politicians never answer a question and say what they mean. Instead they prefer the political answer and play in safe sitting atop of the fence.
Hilary wears a political mask, never saying what she thinks only what you want to hear or what her advisers tell her to say. This makes her come across as uncaring, unemotional and sociopathic (according to some psychologists). Her endless preparation for each debate made her appear scripted and further enhanced feelings that she is a fake.
Donald in contrast would get angry and emotional displaying passion for office. He would also humorously put down Hilary making for comedic moments. Often, the person who wins a debate is the one who can made the audience laugh. People remember how you make them feel, not what you say.
By communicating authentically, Donald Trump appears very human and relatable. Vital characteristics when you need people to vote for you. This is especially relevant in the business world, where your advertising efforts are attempting to entice people to choose your store over the competition.
Everybody loves a good story and Trump’s is one of a true underdog in this election. We all secretly love an underdog who triumphs against all adversity. He is not a politician. He is self-funded and didn’t take any financial contributions from large corporations. This further enhanced the perception that he is different from the rest and politically independent. He also claimed the election was rigged against him and the big corporations would never allow him to win.
By being an underdog he represented the marginalised in American society who have felt the brunt of the recession. His target market. He told them a story that he was just like them and would change everything and let them know what it feels like to win again.
I am not a Donald Trump fan by any stretch of the imagination and this blog isn’t a celebration of his assent to power. It is however an ode to his business acumen and marketing skills that have helped him reach such a coveted position in American politics. If we peel off his narcisstic, racist and sexist layers, there is much we can learn from his elective success.