A lesson in marketing from The Donald.
” I know words, I have the best words.” – Donald Trump
Just so we’re clear. I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t agree with anything he said. I don’t like or respect him. I am however interested from a marketing point of view how he achieved his goal of becoming the president of the United States.
On Friday morning I attended an amazing talk with Emmy award winning Gina London entitled ‘The US Elections and the Language of Leadership’. I’ve been thinking about what was discussed and like everyone this week trying to digest the news from the last few days.
In January Trump will assume the role of the most powerful politician on the planet. The ramifications of the Trump era are hard to gauge because we have been plunged into uncharted waters: Were the words from candidate Trumps mouth hyperbole or an actual statement of intent? We can ask these questions ad nauseam but sadly we don’t have to wait long to find out. Countless columns have already been written in what has become arguably the greatest shock in American political history. But lets set aside the politics and look at what we can learn from the 2016 presidential campaign from a sales and marketing point of view.
Donald Trump used Human to Human marketing techniques to achieve his goal. This is an interesting case study. Although the entire campaign was built upon negativity and fear, it is an interesting lesson in marketing and sales. Trump achieved his victory when everyone thought it impossible. He spent less on his campaign trail than his rival, studied less than Hilary for the debates, seemed ill prepared at every turn but everyone took solace in the knowledge that come election day, he would be obliterated at the polls and awkwardly laughed into history as the spoiled billionaire who thought he could actually assume the role of Commander in Chief of the united States of America. But the only laughter now is from the penthouse floor in Trump tower in Manhattan. He spoke directly to his bulls eye customer and delivered his message. His message as it turns out was received.
Whilst Hilary prepared, prepared and prepared some more, Trump threw the rule book out the window and spoke to the voters like a human, albeit a terrible, terrible human but a human nonetheless. That’s not to say that a well prepared business plan is a bad idea, or that hard work and diligence are a waste of time. But Trump hit on the fact that if you speak directly to your bulls eye customer, they will listen. He harnessed human to human marketing and boy did it work.
How many times do we land on a website only to get overwhelmed by the information. Information that is relevant, information that may help us but sometimes there’s just too much of it. Had Hilary stripped away the jargon and stepped outside of the well rehearsed speeches and spoke to her listeners on a more personal, human level perhaps there would have been a different outcome. Trump had a very clear and simple message – ‘Make America great again.’ He drove this message time and time again. This was the Trump mantra. Clear. Concise. (Vague? yes. Achievable? Probably not. But we’re just talking about his ability at communicating to a bulls eye customer.)
It is likely that in the coming months and years his promises on the election trail will turn out to have been nothing more than rhetoric. Of course you have to have the quality to back up your promises of your business but in this point we are looking at the ability of Trump to speak to his bulls eye target customer and create an emotional connection (albeit a negative one built of fear and hate but a connection nonetheless.)
So can we take anything positive form this?
The one thing we can take is that a clear and concise message will get through to a bulls eye customer. And this customer will listen. We can identify the need of our customer and tailor our message to pique their interest. Unlike Trump however lets aim to have a quality service or product to deliver.