Right, come on then, let’s get on with it shall we? As the dust settles on a bloody and ugly battle for the White House, out staggers president-elect Trump, holding aloft the severed head of a surprised Hillary, as the world watches on, aghast.
All we’re left with now is an overwhelming sense of confusion and a bunch of (admittedly brilliant) memes.
We’ve had Trump’s latest plans for the redesign of the White House.
We’ve had Trump celebrating his victory in style
Trump out of his depth
— Hussein Kesvani (@HKesvani) November 10, 2016
And a look forward to his swearing in
But more than memes, we’ve had a lot of head scratching, soul searching, and blame flying around. Everyone was dead against Trump, weren’t they? He ran a dreadful campaign, insulted all before him, and stirred up all manner of hatred along the way. How did it come to this? Who’s fault is this?
Depending on what you read, the shock victory was down to the poor and ill-educated (proven wrong with, y’know, actual facts), or it was down to the democratic party for shutting the door on Bernie Sanders (who definitely would have won), or it was down to liberals (who bear the brunt for not being liberal enough), or it’s down to the electoral system (Hillary won the popular vote don’t you know), or it was down to Facebook (conspiracies abound), or democrats not voting (see chart below). Or perhaps it was down to people not listening to Trump supporters in the first place.
“Not our president,” chant the protestors in the streets; ignoring the fact that, well, he is.
The trouble with all this liberal soul-searching is, it gives no credit to the Trump campaign itself. There’s a feeling that somehow this has all been some elaborate prank, without really asking why so many people did vote for a man with no experience of public office and a questionable temperament in the first place.
So let’s do that, and ask ourselves what we can all learn from his success.
Don’t make assumptions
Trump’s road to the White House was derided from all sides—first in the Republican leadership race, then in the presidential race—but now he sits on the throne (sorry, hotseat. I can’t help but think of Joffrey from Game of Thrones). The point is, the idea may have been laughable all those months ago, but those assumptions of failure have been well and truly blown out of the water.
What can we learn? Well, in content terms, what works today may not work tomorrow. Is that newsletter generating a lot of traffic for your website? Great, but keep it fresh, keep it lively and listen to feedback from readers. Is your website generating leads? Brilliant, but you need to consistently deliver for your audience. Don’t assume that what delivers today, will deliver tomorrow. The key is to consistently monitor your performance and adjust accordingly. Trump performed terribly in the first debate against Hillary, but hit back with a powerful smear campaign which took in email scandals and more. You need to react to change Constant testing and benchmarking is the only way to analyse the success of your content efforts.
And if you doubt the power of data, remember, a bot has correctly predicted the last 4 presidents; including Trump.
Challenge the status quo
The billionaire property mogul Donald Trump was born into wealth, dodged the draft, and LIVES IN A GIANT GOLD TOWER. And yet he managed to cast himself in the election race as the outsider; an anti-establishment figure fighting for the man on the street (not the woman, obviously). His rhetoric tapped into a disillusionment and frustration with the shifty maneuverings and untruths associated with modern politics. He unashamedly bullshitted himself, of course, but he had the benefit of being outside the norm. He represented a fresh voice in a sea of sameness.
The point: understand your USP, know clearly what makes you different, and bang that drum as loudly as possible. This should sing throughout your marketing and branding efforts. Know what your audience want from you, and give it to them, with a focus on the value you can give to them.
You may not agree with his rhetoric, but you can’t deny that his voice cut through. He did not beat around the bush. Now, we have to be delicate here, and make clear that we’re not advocating lies and insults as a content tactic (although this very newsletter has told our audience they looked like shit once and that went down quite well). What we are advocating, however, is bravery; be that tonally, content-wise or in your pitches. Be confident, be brave, and don’t be afraid to be different.
Above all this, be authentic. Trump is a force of nature, and he ran his campaign exactly how he. Yes, his Twitter priveledges were taken off him by his campaign team, but people appreciated his direct honesty. What you got with Trump was him, disgusting warts, numerous faults and all. Businesses need to be more open and more accessible than ever, not just in B2C marketing, but increasingly in B2B too.
Trump isn’t just a man, Trump is a brand. Quite literally. One with iffy financial records perhaps, but one with a general perception of success. Trump’s campaign was not shy about embodying this success, but it also took on a new form: one of the outsider. While Clinton represented an established business who’s message was one of continuity and stasis, Trump was something people could buy into. The point is, as Britvic’s head of marketing Kevin McNair says, people buy from “brands first, companies second.”
But there’s more to it than that: Trump positioned himself as a movement: the rise of the maligned unheard fighting against the established elite. This brand as movement push is a key trend throughout all industries. One of our clients works in the FMCG space, for instance, and they recently highlight some key trends.
- Helping to empower customers, allowing them to do, feel and share – Trump put power into voter’s hands.
- The rise in the ‘snackification of everything’ culture – Trump took over the media with quotable, snackable comments.
- Food as an experience – Trump offered this movement as something people could buy into.
- Increasing interest in the story behind the food – He had a great story.
We all need to be aware of the demands of our audience, and we need to be aware that people buy into your brand as much as they do your products. If your potential customers have a bad ‘gut-feel’ about you, you probably won’t win business. Your content and your brand need to convey a movement, a message and a meaning behind what you do. As the classic quote from Simon Sinek goes: “people don’t by what you do, they buy why you do it“.
So what’s our message? Be more misogynistic and racist in your marketing? Get a permatan and a bad wig? Be more insulting? No. Just that, for all his faults, Trump did an excellent job. And no matter our feelings on the man, we can learn from his methods.
The flipside of this, of course, is that he’s a thin-skinned, misogynistic twunt with a face like a melting Orangutan and worrying penchant for arseholery. So perhaps ignore all this and get back to building that bunker.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, mind. Drop me a line.