// LESSONS FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

DISCLAIMER – What follows is neither an endorsement for nor a critique of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.  The information/opinions within are strictly business related, and nothing more.  Enjoy…


The 2016 Presidential Race has provided a window that peers into the hearts of Americans.  For the communications community, it’s offered a unique look at how to hack the media.  Yes, I’m talking about Donald Trump; love him or hate him, he is the master of manipulating public discourse in the modern day.

In fact, if you ignore the incendiary words and focus on the tactics he’s employing there is a lot to learn. Here are five (5), quick observations that we all ought to remember as we improve our own communications:

 

/ STAND OUT

Being unquestionably unique is the key to Trump’s success as a candidate, and without it none of the other tips matter.  But make no mistake, if he stood out simply because of his political opinions he wouldn’t be dominating the airwaves the way he does.  Instead, Trump is standing out because he’s differentiating himself boldly from the competition.  The (successful?) Trump brand, the Trump experience, and his business charisma are the content he’s pitching the nation, his political opinions are just the packaging.

Like Trump, consider how other successful brands have made a name for themselves; Apple, Nike, Amazon – they all sell an experience that transcends their core product.

So how can your business stand out?  Organizations large and small ought to take the challenge and ask this question of themselves frequently.

 

/ EARN IT!

It was reported that through March Trump has been given “earned” media worth $1.9 billion dollars.  That’s right, billion!  It’s more than all of other candidates combined!  That number is still growing, and the gap is widening.

How does he do it?  Trump stands out, yes – Trump’s comments demand attention, especially from his target audience.  But Trump is also available whenever and wherever the media wants him, a claim no other candidate can make.  So, while it may be “free”, Trump is definitely putting in the sweat-equity to earn it.  It’s really nothing more than good “customer service”.

So how can you service your customers better, be there when they need you, remind them that you have their needs front-of-mind?  What can you do to land in the customer service Hall of Fame?

 

/ BE YOUR BRAND

Trump seems to have always stood at the intersection of grandiose and tacky.  From his gilded real estate to his escalator entrance to announce his campaign, he is who he is without shame.  That works to his advantage.  Trump the politician is very familiar, we cheered him on The Apprentice and watched him earn his way to the WWE Hall of Fame.  Like him or hate him, Trump got to where he is by being the Trump brand, and he’s refusing to pivot for the sake of politics… in fact, he’s insisting that politics adjust to his personality.  And while Hero-Villain narratives have helped shape our world and build brands, Trump is upping the ante and stealing Steve Jobs throne as the World’s Greatest Storyteller.

Great, enduring brands are always unique.  They project an air of exclusivity and reinforce it with hyperbole – they are unwavering in their commitment to who.they.are.  They insist they, and only they, can solve a problem, even when no problem really exists.  Brand-building creates legacies that endure the tests of time!

 

/ DON’T BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE

News flash – Trump isn’t looking to win the hearts and minds of the entire nation.  To win the White House, a candidate really only needs to win-over 20% of the total population (30% of eligible voters).  Think about that – Trump could be elected to the most powerful office in the land, but needs only 1 in 5 citizens to buy his brand for him to dominate market-share.

So, if you’re offended by Trump, you’re not his audience.  In fact, his strategy seems to include alienating many people with the intent to ingratiate and create loyalty with his target market.  That’s a smart strategy, especially considering that customer acquisition costs 4-10x more than customer retention.  And retention attracts new customers organically; an art that Trump has shown himself to be a master of in many walks of life.

Unfortunately, many brands look at customer acquisition as the key to building market-share and, in doing so, tempt going off-brand to achieve those goals. Instead, look at customer retention, minimize churn, and over-time more like-minded customers will migrate your direction.

 

/ SPEAK IN SOUNDBITES

It’s shocking that a man who graduated from one of the nations finest business schools delivers speeches at a 3rd-grade level.  But don’t be fooled, he knows exactly what he’s doing – he’s speaking in pithy phrases that make headlines and are easily recited, word-for-word.  Again, Steve Jobs did the same; some of you might remember when he said:

“What this device does is extraordinary.  It is the best browsing experience you’ve ever had. … It’s unbelievably great … way better than a laptop. Way better than a smartphone.” (iPad Launch, 2010)

Sound familiar?

So distill that precious prose into punchy phrases!  Just do it.  It works.

These are just a handful of lessons we can all learn from Donald Trump.  Many are obvious.  But just as we like the self-evident slogans on the walls of our offices, hopefully one (maybe all) of these tips can help you today.

Did these help you?  Are there other Trump lessons that you’d like to add to this list?  Let us know.