As the results unfolded in the early hours of November 9, many people sat in shocked horror at what was happening. Reality TV star and real-estate tycoon, Donald Trump, was to be declared the next president of the United States of America despite many peoples’ belief that this would be an impossible feat. So, what happened? How did Donald Trump, a man with zero political experience, win the arguably most powerful political position in the world?
There are several political and social lessons to be learned from Donald Trump’s winning the 2016 U.S. election, but only one will be discussed here: the benefits of effective marketing. In this article, we will outline 7 key marketing lessons learned from soon to be President Trump’s political campaign to win the White House:
Lesson 1: Give your customers and clients exactly what they want. Donald Trump’s marketing brilliance came largely through thoroughly understanding what his potential constituents wanted and promising it to them. He had determined early on that two issues at the core of his constituents’ concerns were illegal immigration and domestic terrorism. As a result, he came out very strong in favor of the deportation of illegal immigrants, the building of a wall along the Mexican border and the denial of entry into America of Muslims. Notwithstanding being critiqued for veering too far from political correctness, in so doing, he provided his constituents with what they wanted. In fact, he was the only one who really heard what this group of people was asking for. Responding directly to their needs initially created loyalty and eventually completed the sale. In your business, you must also determine what exactly it is your customers and clients really want. To determine what that is, ask: What are they missing? What gaps in the market can you fill? What do they care about? What will drive them to purchase what you are offering? Once you find the answers to these questions, simply give it to them, even if (or arguably especially if) it’s never been given to them before.
Lesson 2: Find an untapped, possibly, niche market and cater to it. Part of the reason that people did not think that Donald Trump could win the presidency was that he preached non-mainstream ideologies. Yet, on November 8, a large group of individuals came forward in support of the man who came to represent such ideologies. Why? Donald Trump had found a smaller, largely unrepresented (or at least underrepresented) niche and unwaveringly catered to it. In doing that, he ultimately turned this niche into a pro-Trump movement that gained enough traction to win a U.S. presidency. The takeaway from this is to look at the portions of your potential clients and customers that are not being adequately served and serve them. If done correctly, this niche market can gain enough momentum to eventually become a non-niche, large client or customer base.
Lesson 3: Have a consistent, memorable and focused marketing message that speaks directly to your clients and customers’ wants and needs. Donald Trump determined that his constituents, a large portion of Americans who felt disenfranchised, craved a positive political change that would directly assist them and improve their social and economic situations. Using the brand, “Make America Great Again” as the backdrop for every marketing message he delivered, he was able to propagandize and reinforce a uniform and unforgettable campaign message that made it clear what he stood for (indeed, to the point that he never had to explain his plan for the presidency). In your business, whether it is a start-up or established, you need also consistently communicate your marketing message at every possible opportunity so that your potential clients and customers know precisely what they would be buying in your services or product.
Lesson 4: Make a clear distinction between you and your competition. In marketing and branding terms, this is called differentiation. Donald Trump spent much of his campaign driving the point home that he was simply just not Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. And despite his lack of clear vision for the country, this worked. Like Donald Trump, you too need to be visibly and clearly different from your own competitors. This differentiation not only lies in the product or services you are offering, but also in the branding and messaging of the company or firm that provides them.
Lesson 5: Rebrand yourself in the image of what your clients or customers are looking for: Donald Trump was once upon a democrat and apparently switched allegiances in 2008 when he endorsed John McCain in his bid for president. Could it be that Mr. Trump, in advance of running for president himself, determined that his best shot at winning was on a republican ticket? If we assume that this is in fact what happened, we can learn the lesson from his rebranding effort and subsequent win that clients and customers are indeed more likely to ally themselves with and buy products or services from an individual or entity whose brand they believe in. In your business, you must also brand based on what your target clients and customers are looking for.
Lesson 6: Show people that others love your product or services. Donald Trump did exactly this in his presidential campaign by making sure he showed and spoke about how many people loved and followed him. He even audaciously stated that he could go on to New York’s Fifth Avenue “and shoot somebody” and still not lose voters (and he might have been right). Beyond showing that he was a “tough guy” (another part of his marketing strategy), this language also told people just how much others loved him and what he was offering, and made many ask themselves whether they should like it too. Clearly when several people asked themselves the latter question, the answer was yes, as evidenced by Trump’s ultimate win. It’s understandable that this worked, however. We’re human. And as such, very few things are as compelling as “other people are doing it”. In your business, find ways to show how much people like your product or services through tactics such as testimonials and watch the number of people who agree with those who like those offerings grow.
Lesson 7: Find ways to obtain free marketing. Being controversial got Donald Trump a lot of extra free advertising space. He was constantly “trending.” By dominating the online social media conversation, he was able to promote his message in many cases for free. In fact, it is said that Donald Trump generated about $5 billion in free media. We believe the takeaway is that you and your business must determine ways to be part of the social media conversation. And to the extent possible, you should find ways to lead the conversation. In order to get free marketing, get on line and speak up.
(See the following chart below to get a sense of what Trump accomplished in terms of free marketing by using his voice, speaking up and giving people what they wanted).
In conclusion, popular vote loss or not, Donald Trump remains the President-elect of the United States and in January, he will be sworn in. Rather than remaining depressed as many people justifiably are, we should start taking away valuable lessons for our own businesses.
For help with your business or law firm’s marketing, please contact us.