While the champagne socialists of the western world all threw their hands in the air on Wednesday (and not in a “get your hands in the air like you just don’t care” with a disco whistle added in for good measure kinda way) I was trying to work out how many pundits got it so wrong and how Trump’s people made him the leader of the free world.
From a marketing and communications perspective there’s actually a lot to be learned and, dare I say it, admired from the way his team got the job done.
Firstly, he picked a good tagline (Make America Great Again) and used it as often as he could. The Democrats narrowed a list of 84 down to two – Stronger Together and I’m with Her – which are inclusive but not bold. In the school of election slogans they get a B-.
WikiLeaks, via Russian hackers according to conspiracy theorists, exposed the other 82 options and they were all pretty lame so obviously they went with what they had. (https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/20454)
A good slogan may not win votes on its own but it certainly helps set the tone. Locally, some may argue that Whitlam’s ‘It’s Time’ was the best but ‘Kevin 07’ was pure genius. The man himself was vanilla (although watching an anglo Aussie from regional Queensland speaking fluent Mandarin to a Chinese audience is pretty cool and he could tear paint from the walls when he yelled, which is a talent I suppose) but this slogan appealed to every swinging voter. It was their quirky, likable next door neighbour and their second favourite footy team. Definitely an A+.
Secondly, Trump spoke in simple, straight-forward language about things that a lot of people clearly cared about – infrastructure projects, US based manufacturing, illegal immigration and the distribution of wealth.
And he used pro-active terms and phrases which resonated with them. Things like, “I’m going to drain the swamp”, “The system is rigged” and “We’re going to win”.
Every journalist’s question or debate retort was either preceded with a “Let me tell you something” or “Believe me when I say” and many answers and statements concluded with “That’s what people are telling me”.
The words ‘Terrific’ and ‘Amazing’ were also in his most 20 used words throughout the campaign*. They were often said as an afterthought and seemed disingenuous but they counted for something, at least compared to Clinton who sounded like the career politician she is. She was all motherhood statements and soundbites, even when talking about things that were really personal to her like the glass ceiling and Monica Lewinsky’s cocktail frock.
Trump was fast and loose with his language from the day he announced his candidacy but at least he sounded passionate and involved and didn’t seem to care how many people he offended. Clearly this resonated with “the great unwashed”.
I’m not saying I agree with the man, I’m just saying that he picked his audience, understood what they wanted to hear and completely nailed it.
Thirdly, he stuck to the message. Every good media trainer will tell you that you should pick a few key points and keep bringing everything back to the core message(s) … no matter what the question.
I watched about 30 minutes of the second debate between Trump and Clinton and it was disgraceful. I timed a full 16 minutes before either one of them (it was Mrs Clinton) said something constructive – not positive – but at least it was about policy and didn’t involve assassinating someone’s character.
If Trump had’ve mentioned Hillary’s 30,000 dodgy emails one more time I was would have thrown something at the TV.
Lastly, celebrity endorsements mightn’t really count for as much as us marketers have always believed. In fact, maybe celebrity endorsement en-masse can actually work against your brand?
How many celebrities lined up to cheer for the Democrats? Stacks. It was a long list. More than pitched for Barrack Obama. More than any election anywhere, ever.
And, in the main, they were the cream of the crop – very high profile and respected actors, musicians, sports people and social commentators like Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Madonna, Magic Johnson and Michael Moore.
Who came out for The Donald? Barely anyone. Well, OK, the guy who played Chachi on Happy Days, Hulk Hogan and Tila Tequila so, not anyone but plenty of ‘nobody’s’.
Maybe celebrities are just people after all? And the punters don’t really care to know how they vote just how well they sing and dance. Just a thought.
Based on Trumps victory, every business owner or MD should be asking themselves if they really know who their customer is and what they want. All the so called ‘experts’ (media, researchers, analysts, politicians from both sides) got it wrong this week. They thought they knew, but they weren’t asking the right people the right questions or monitoring the right data.
Business owners and senior managers also need to ask if their current customers are picking up on what they’re trying to sell. More importantly, will lapsed or uncommitted customers believe the message?
And once you think you have your messaging right you need to ‘package’ it correctly, put on the right platform (for example, The Donald had a penchant for Twitter) and in the most appropriate language. If you tick these boxes, you’re on the right track.
As always, I encourage my clients to be as authentic as possible because it’s ultimately the best way to win and retain customers. If you’d like to speak with me about establishing a great communications platform for your business please contact me any time at email@example.com
*moron and loser were also in Trump’s 20 most used words so I’m not saying he was respectful or clever but his language and tone was perceived by many to be more genuine.