“The media is – really, the word I think one of the greatest terms I’ve come up with – is fake.” Donald J. Trump
Disclaimer: This article is simply about the method and not about the views held by Trump nor in any way an endorsement of any kind.
With the US election in full swing, one can’t stop but wonder how each of the candidates can stay on top of people’s minds. Today it’s really clear to everyone that a US presidential campaign is an advertising campaign, highly anticipated and followed across the globe, with 100s of polls and key moments such as the presidential debates and the primaries.
While the results are always unclear until the final moment and a confusing electoral college votes, I think many people worldwide don’t even understand. Many lessons can be learned from these elections. The odds were always stacked against Donald J. Trump, and yet he won once already – a testament to his ability to promote himself as a brand more than just a person.
So, what can marketers learn from him? Watching him, I have identified ten key observations, which I will list here.
1. The Cycle is Short; Keep at It
The invention of cable 30 years ago or more has created what is now called the news cycle, which was thought to be 24 hours, today with the social media and content boom, it feels like a couple of hours. Trump usually manages this by constantly tweeting, with a frequency that sometimes looked ridiculous. While I am not a fan of just posting content for the sake of posting, it does make a difference in staying top of mind.
2. Use Easy Language
Trump keeps his words simple, easy English for everyone, and as you will see in the observation number 6, extremely repetitive. The easier the word, the stickier it is, so avoiding jargon and big words is something that works for all people, regardless of their level of education. Of course, it’s all related to the next point.
3. Know Your Audience
Once you know your core audience, their level of income, where they live, and their level of education, it makes everything easier. I can imagine from watching the reactions of people who aren’t in Trump’s core audience – they sometimes cringe at the language he uses or the messages he sends, but at the end of the day, it works for his core audience, and it already got him elected once. Question for the brand: “Are you as focused on your core audience as him?”
4. Change the Conversation
Trump always controls the narrative. When his scores low on something, he will stop talking about it. He barely mentions the Wall these days, and he downplays the effect of the virus in the US. I can question the morality of this, of course, one cannot afford to misrepresent facts, but controlling the narrative is extremely important.
5. Be on Message and Repeat
If we all remembered anything from Trump’s speeches, we would remember two or three words at most. As you can see in the quote at the beginning of the article, the first one is the Wall, and the second is China. While the first one has been used less during this election, the second has been repeated for five years plus now. What are your brand’s key messages?
6. The Data Matters
Data from national and state polls pays a big role in the US election, especially in swing states. You need lots of research to understand the pulse of the nation and what issues move public opinion. Then there are focus groups that can help you determine what messages are more effective, and so on. When was the last time your brand did any research or used a focus group?
You need to find ways to amplify your message. In the previous election, Trump received fewer donations than Hilary did but still, with his ability to be controversial, to this day he’s been able to get journalists and TV presenters to repeat what he says, like him repeating the “12 more years” statement. While brands can’t be as controversial as him, they can definitely tap into different ways to get people to share and amplify their messages.
8. Make Them Remember
If you can amplify your message, base your message on data, repeat, repeat, and repeat it, while staying true to your core audience and using simple language, this point will manifest itself.
9. It Takes Time
It’s not clear when Trump started preparing, but evidence of him wanting to run since the 80s was found in many videos. As an example, Trump ran full-page ads in the New York Times and other reputable newspapers criticizing Japan for its trade imbalance with the United States. Sound familiar?
10. Timing Matters
This point is related to the previous one. Trump waited patiently to find the right moment to run as president, and when the moment came, he jumped into the race and, as we all know now, won it. When you have a clear strategy and when you are constantly listening, the moment will come.
Regardless of whether you love Trump or not, support him or not, his brand and his message have delivered him the success he wanted, and even if for but one term, he has been the president of the United States of America.
And to stay true to the lessons of this article, I repeat, this isn’t an endorsement.