The day after the presidential election used to be a day where you’d wake up and know who was elected president. Hmmmmm this is a bit unsettling
Because of the pandemic and this crazy electoral college, we’re in limbo as to who won. Even though Trump declares himself the winner, which is part of who he really is and his brand.
No matter what your politics are or who you voted for, instead of getting caught up in the madness of it all, I decided to share some marketing lessons Trump used to get elected in the first place.
I’m taking a marketing tactic I learned from Dan Kennedy – polarizing my audience.
Before you read any further – I realize this topic is very polarizing. Just know that I am a Democrat and part of the LGBTQ community.
So if you’re a Trump supporter, it’s totally cool to unsubscribe now. Yet, I think you will find these concepts interesting and informative no matter what your politics.
The Marketing Concepts Trump Used in His Campaign:
- Be Niche focused (& Understand Your Audience)- He knows his audience, and it’s not everyone. He specifically catered his messages to working-class white males, which is a large and specific demographic. His messaging was laser-focused and highly relevant to this audience. Because of that, it led to greater brand evangelism and rapid expansion of his supporter base.
This is what you need to do in your business. Don’t try to appeal to everyone. You can’t. It’s too expensive and time-consuming. Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Instead, narrow your focus to a specific niche/audience. Specialization is better than generalization.
- The Common Enemy – Trump’s messaging has always been anti-establishment. He’s played to the general dissatisfaction with both parties that are felt by the American people. Taxpayers of all political backgrounds have a distaste for the “establishment.” This made him stand out to people who felt that they had been forgotten or ignored by the political establishment.
When you’re marketing your business, it’s always helpful to focus on your audience’s common enemy. If you’re selling a tax product, your common enemy could be the IRS. Or if you’re selling a marketing product, your common enemy could be all the charlatans out there that are ripping people off.
- Be Your Brand (Be Authentic) – Trump’s brand is really extreme. As a person, he is brash, loudmouthed, and unapologetic. Trump polarized his audience with emotionally-charged messaging, which, regardless of its truthfulness, led his supporters to become such extreme brand evangelists that they turned out to vote in numbers far higher than anyone predicted.
Something I learned from Dan Kennedy is you never want to be milk toast as a brand/company. You want to stand for something, have shared values, stand out, and be yourself. Don’t be afraid to tell your audience – “You won’t want to work with me if…” (And no, I really don’t condone or like the Trump brand. Yet, you need to be who you are, whoever that is.)
- Being Transparent is Good (Or Be Memorable) – In Trump’s case, even though he’s telling lies and half-truths, his controversial statements were well-received by his target audience because they perceive him as being transparent. (Keyword here is “perceive.”)
You can use this in your business by not using “corporate” or what I call “marketing” speak. This is why Zappos was such a huge hit. And companies like The Passion Planner are doing incredibly well. Their emails are real. They talk to their audience like they’re sharing a cup of coffee with a close friend. They are honest. If your product is delayed because your computer crashed, and/or you forgot to back it up, etc., be honest. What this does is connect you to your audience. They know you’re not perfect. This makes you human and endears you to your audience.
- Simple Messages Really Work – Donald Trump has always been intentionally vague and concise. He never got into the details of what he’d actually do when re-elected. He did give simple ideas that were appealing and easy to repeat. “Make America Great Again!” is the ultimate example of this. How will he do it? It doesn’t matter. It’s simple and easy to remember, and that’s why it spread. (Side note – This slogan was originally used to get Reagan elected.)
Don’t overcomplicate your messaging. The simpler it is, the more memorable it will be. You always want to be clear, concise, and as simple as you can. Also, use emotions in your content to mobilize your audience to become brand evangelists. Emotion creates action. And people buy on emotion. If your audience feels afraid or feels neglected or forgotten, use that to your advantage by speaking directly to their pain points, fears, and needs. Yet, use it for good, not evil.
Trump basically used this core marketing playbook to get elected in 2016.
But what frustrates me is that when it comes to marketing, I was always told that I needed to use it for good, not evil. This is a code that all marketers I work with and know abide by.
Trump and his presidency do not fall into this category. He’s definitely used all these tactics for evil by polarizing the country. And using ploys that are rooted in authoritarianism that dictators use.
Here are some examples:
- Questioning the establishment by questioning the election results.
- Using fear by raising alarms over fictional enemies (like the left radicals) and persuading voters that they are the only ones that can avoid disaster.
- Spreading conspiracy theories to delegitimize their opponents and spread fear through disinformation.
- Threatening his opponents with prosecution.
- Attacking the media, which casts doubt and undermines trust in their coverage.
- Basically, just outright lying, being a narcissistic dictator. Taking all that America has stood for and trying his best to flush it down the toilet.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading.
No matter what happens and who’s president, I want to share with you one of my favorite Winnie the Pooh adapted quotes:
“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.”
Whoever turns out to be the next president, I truly believe that we are stronger together, no matter who tries to tear us apart. United we stand, divided we fall.