Marketing Lessons Learned From Donald Trump

David Leithead 09.11.2016

Love him or hate him, here's six things we can learn from Donald Trump's marketing on personal branding.

The Results are in! And the new President of the United States of America is – Donald Trump. A bit of an anti-climax and shock if I do say so myself. However, there’s no denying that his candidacy has been a powerful force which garnered huge media attention.

Despite Trumps radical views and questionable personality, with numerous ridiculous (some may say “stupid” or “hateful”) statements, he continued to rise in the polls, inevitably leading to his election. Regardless of what you think about Trump, similar to the likes of Conor McGregor and Katie Hopkins, he knows how to get mass public attention.

Here are some marketing lessons we can all learn from Trump.

Know Your Audience

He knows his audience and it worked out well for him. He doesn’t seem to care if people love or hate him as he is playing to a very select audience who believe in his message and want to support him. There’s something about Trump’s tough-talking “I don’t care what the experts think” attitude that really appealed to the Republicans.

In relation to marketing, your brand isn’t going to appeal to everyone but that doesn’t matter. Know your audience and satisfy their needs, rather than trying to please everybody.

Know Your Brand

Donald Trump is a brand in himself and he knows it. From entrepreneur, to businessman, to property mogul, to TV star he has always stayed the same. An opinionated person who isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers. Regardless of how many businesses have failed under his ownership, he has always been persistent, if nothing else.

The lesson: Your brand must stand for something. Man people openly dislike Ryanair, yet recognise what they have done revolutionise affordable flying.

Be Audacious

Standing out from the crowd is the main theme here. Trump has said some outlandish comments throughout his campaign from insulting Rosie O’Donnell to Mexican immigrants. But, for some reason this has only boosted his popularity amongst his core following. Why? Trump’s supporters respect him for speaking what they believe to be the truth, even if it’s not always nice.
Most candidates are very formal and have to watch what they say as they don’t want to offend anybody, but not Trump. It’s better to be memorable, even if you lose some customers who don’t “get it”. Paddy Power often use this strategy which seems to work quite well, while also gaining plenty of free advertising due to its satirical nature.

Go Against the Grain

It was quite clear that Trump wasn’t mimicking any other politician in order to get votes. Trump has done the opposite of what every other politician has been thought to do in order to gain votes, and it's worked! If they went left, he went right, if they said black, he said white. Which makes it even more surreal now that he has been elected.

The Lesson: Amazon is one of the best examples of a company that got noticed by going against the grain. At a time when everybody thought the Internet was just a game, Amazon pioneered e-commerce. When everybody was obsessing over quarterly results, they stuck to a five-year profitability strategy. When everyone else was going vertical, they went horizontal.

Do One Thing Really Well

Trump made his way to the top by picking one issue and sticking to it – immigration. That was his nail and he hammered it home time and time again. He saw that immigration was becoming somewhat of an issue in the past few years, which was also one of the key factors of the Brexit vote being passed.

The Lesson: You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating – if you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll end up being nothing to no one. Whether you’re selling software, advertising or cars, the best marketing strategies have a very particular target market in mind.

All Publicity, Is Good Publicity?

All publicity, is good publicity is an old phrase I usually wouldn’t agree with. However, when it comes to Trump it seems to be true. Despite all his bad press, including racist comments and disrespectful comments against women, it may have led to him losing some battles but in the end he won the war.

The Lesson: The point of publicity, whether it is good or bad, is to get noticed by your audience. In some form or another, you are making a mark and that’s usually a good thing. Of course it’s better to be noticed for positive reasons rather than negative ones!


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