Edit Note: Before we begin… this is not a political article nor did I have a preference on who won the recent general election. This is about who was the better marketer in the race for the white house… who was better at identifying a target audience and communicating with them. This where I feel that the race was won and lost.
Sexual-predator, racist, narcissist and bigot are some of the words which have been used to describe America’s President Elect Donald J Trump leading up to November 8th.
According to nearly every poll available by mainstream media outlets, this is a man who was a complete outsider to win, a no-hoper.
Yet despite the media’s abhorrence of him and the general public’s protests, he did it!
Against all odds and no prior political experience, he won the presidential race with ease.
How was this possible?
What went wrong for Hillary? How did a woman who was a career politician with 3 decades of political experience and whose husband was a former president and has more than 3 decades lose to someone who seemed so unqualified and considered a deplorable human being?
Agreeable or disagreeable, qualified or unqualified, Mr Trump used this election to prove that he is the unequivocal master when it comes to influence and persuasion (i.e. marketing and sales).
Here are 4 reasons why I believe he achieved the impossible and how you can effectively implement some of his strategies into your own business without causing controversy and division in your marketplace.
1. Understand your target audience’s “Why”.
“What Trump did effectively is tap into the angst and the pain of the working class people… (He said) I know that you are working longer hours for low wages, I know that some of you are losing jobs to international (Chinese) manufacturers. I know that you cannot afford the child care or send your kids to college.”
– Senator Bernie Sanders.
It was no secret who Mr Trump’s audience was… Their demographic title was on the tip of his tongue at every media event.
More important than “Who” they were, Trump understood what motivated the working class. He got to know their pains and problems. He knew the “Why behind the buy” or in his case, vote.
One of his voters main “why’s” included lack of opportunities, specifically jobs and education
Trump’s tactic was to address these issues head on and as frequently as possible. He promised to fearlessly champion the causes of the working class and make a difference in their lives.
He highlighted how international trade deals and globalisation affected small town economies and how he would overhaul the established agreements to create jobs and pump money into those communities.
Trump sought out a demographic whose problems were well documented but ignored by the media and more importantly his competitors.
“The demographics of Trump voters are interesting. Half are between 45 and 64 years of age… One-half of his voters have a high school education or less compared to 19% with a college or postgraduate degree.
In sum, his supporters are a bit older, less educated, and earn less than Republican averages.”
– David Brady, Hoover Institution.
What you can do about it.
One of the main differences between B2B vs. B2C marketing communication is that B2B businesses typically address their prospects problems/challenges and present their product or service as a solution.
B2C communication often focuses on fulfilling their target audiences desires.
Trump understood that all successful communication campaigns begin with a customer centric (or voter-centric) approach.
Having the ability to determine a target groups challenges, frustrations and desires and turning that into a marketable product or service is crucial to persuading a prospect to vote with their wallet.
Use these 5 questions to understand your customers “Why’s”
- Who is your target audience (demographic, job title, age, country or area of residence?
- What Struggles / Obstacles do they face every day?
- How do their struggles / obstacles prevent them from being a better person?
- How does your product or service address this and improve their professional or personal lives?
- What is your business’s unique selling proposition or USP
2. Does your message match your mission?
Let’s start with some campaign slogan trivia, please fill in the blank:
Hillary thought America was “____ ____” (2 words)
Donald Trump wanted to “___ _____ ____ ____” (4 words)
(NOTE: Google searching for the answer to Hillary’s message is cheating.)
Have you got your answers? The difference in the messages has been of paramount importance to both of their campaigns.
If I was to ask the general public 6 months ago the same question, they would likely draw a blank on Hillary’s but be able to clearly and firmly recite Trump’s.
Mr Trump’s message is, of course, the same one that he has been using since the beginning of his campaign… Make America Great Again.
Hillary’s message was that America was “Better Together”. This message appeared to be Secretary Clinton’s Counterpunch to the idea that Trump’s election would cause mass division between races and sex.
But that wasn’t Hillary’s only campaign message. In fact “Better Together” was introduced at the beginning of 2016.
At her first rally in June 2015 her campaign message was:
“The Four Fights of America: Building the economy of tomorrow, strengthening our family, defending America and its core values and revitalising our democracy.”
Also when making speeches her podium was dressed with the slogan “Fighting for us”.
On Twitter, she created the Hashtag “#ImWithHer” and finally on her website she used the slogan “Love Trumps Hate”
So let’s recap on those again:
- In 2015: “Four Fights”
- In 2016: “Better Together”
- On various podiums: “Fighting for us”
- On Twitter: “#ImWithHer”
- On her website: “Love trumps hate”
Soon to be former President, Barack Obama’s campaign message in 2008 was underpinned by the theme of “Change”. His slogan transitioned from “Change we can believe in” to “Change we need”.
Hillary’s campaign slogans varied between vague (stronger together) complex (The Four Fights) and devoid of unifying theme. What exactly did she stand for? What promise was she making to voters?
Trump’s message was the perfect corporate slogan. It spoke to the hopes and aspirations of the voters and promised to make THEM great again.
What you can do about it.
“Luke had Yoda and Daniel had Mr Miyagi… Position yourself as a guide and let YOUR CUSTOMER become the hero”.
– Don Miller, Building a Story Brand.
Creating a unifying message or slogan is never easy.
But the key to any great message starts by addressing your audience or your customers and making THEM the hero of their story and positioning yourself as a guide.
This is exactly what Mr Trump did, he made the American people the heroes of their own stories and promised to guide them towards greatness again.
“The only force strong enough to save our country is us. The only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is YOU, the American people.”
– Donald Trump.
Consider one of Apple’s most famous slogans “Think Different” who were they addressing? What did this message mean to their customers?
Apple prides themselves on innovation and design. That slogan spoke to their tribe of creatives and individuals who pride themselves on being ahead of the kerb when it comes to owning the latest technology. This slogan spoke directly to the beliefs of that particular demographic group. They think differently, therefore, they stand out among their tribe.
Or how about this from athletic clothing brand Under Armour:
Under Armour positions their training gear as an aid to their customer’s goals and desires.
We will help you to “Rule Yourself” and become a better, stronger and greater athlete.
How can you create a message which resonates with your customers?
- Make your message all about the customer. Do not brag about how many years worth of experience you have in a particular industry or how great your services are. Focus on what they care about, what are their pain points, what do they desire to become?
- Use the idea of change or growth to inspire them. Think about Barack Obama’s idea’s on Change or Apple’s “Think Different” message. Are you inspiring your customers to evolve?
- Show them their desired destination. What journey are your customers currently on and how can your business help them towards that destination?
3. The “D” Factor
“On the day when I was in the Situation Room monitoring the raid that brought Osama Bin Laden to justice, he was hosting ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’.
I am happy to compare my 30 years of experience (in politics) and what I have done for this country with your past 30 years and let the American people decide.”
-Hillary Clinton, 3rd Presidential Debate.
There was no getting around this point. Trump’s political experience was not even a drop in the ocean compared to Hillary’s 30 years plus.
He was famous for being a business tycoon, a playboy and a television celebrity… but politics was definitely not on his resume.
How did he overcome this massive issue which could have easily stopped his campaign before it even got off the ground?
He embraced “The D-Factor” aka Differentiation.
He knew that if he debated her on experience he would lose, nothing he could say on that particular issue would lend him political credibility.
He also knew that one of his target audiences main concerns was that politicians, such as Hillary, were corrupt.
They believed that the international trade deals with China and Mexico were made by the current political establishment to line their pockets and in turn destroy job opportunities for the working class.
This belief (founded or unfounded) created massive distrust as the working class believed that Washington did not have their best interests at heart.
So what was Trump’s response? Change the narrative!
He embraced his lack of political experience and pivoted – Yes, he lacked political experience, but that meant that he was not a corrupt Washington politician.
He created an “Outsiders vs. Insiders” or “Us (the American people) vs. Them (the corrupt political establishment)” mentality.
He questioned how ethical his competitors were and made it known that he could not be brought like other politicians.
Taxpayers money would not be used to line his own pockets like that of his competitors – besides, he was rich enough already, he wouldn’t need the extra money.
He began to label his competitors with names like “Crooked Hillary” and “Lying Ted Cruz”.
He acknowledged his differences and helped voters to understand why it was important to vote for him – someone who was not part of the political establishment and someone who could not be brought.
How to separate yourself from your competitors
Firstly, I do not advise that you label your competitors with malicious aliases.
However, whatever industry you operate in their will always be nuanced differences between you and your competition.
Do not be afraid to proudly demonstrate these differences in a positive light in order to help your customers to make a purchasing decision.
Here is what to do:
- Make a list of your closest competitors in your market.
- Do a mini-SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis on each of them and your own business.
- Make a list of the qualities that help to differentiate your business from theirs.
- Think of ways to embrace them and bring them to the forefront of your marketing communications.
4. Create Content Which Converts
“This is Mr Trump’s positive closing message to American voters, and it comes at a time when Secretary Clinton has abandoned any positive message of her own. We believe voters are looking to go in a new direction and Mr Trump is ready to lead this change.”
– Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications advisor
Trump’s final ad campaign, launched 2 days before the general election is possibly the greatest political advert ever.
Titled “Donald Trump’s Argument for America” if you have not watched it, I HIGHLY recommend you spend 120 seconds of your time watching a master of persuasion and influence at work:
This advert is a breathtaking and masterful piece of content. It is the definition of content that converts.
He used all of his voters “Why’s”. The fears, frustrations and anguish of his voters and empowered them to take charge of their futures by voting for him:
“Our movement is about replacing a corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by YOU, the American People”
His tone throughout the video is focused on the audience. Not himself.
For someone who has been labelled a narcissist by the media and his competition, this video focuses less than 10 seconds of its time on himself, a large portion of the remaining 110 seconds focused on the audience, his voters.
There are also images of empty factories and abandoned places of employment.
Minus the controversy, this piece of content contains everything that Trump campaigned for-
- Lack of opportunity for Americans
- Putting the American people first.
- Fighting against perceived corruption on behalf of Americans
Finally, he ties it all together by offering a solution… “A vote for me is a vote for yourself”
“The only force strong enough to save this country is the U.S. the American people. I am doing this for YOU, for The People and we will take back this country for you and we will make America Great Again.”
Once again Donald pivots away from some of the labels he has been given. In this video he does not come across as a cocky, rambling or controversial madman, he comes across as being logical and deeply empathetic to the needs of the American people.
How to create content that converts.
1. Find out which platform your customers are using: Are they part of a particular group on LinkedIn or Facebook? Do they listen to podcasts or audio programmes? Do they consume lots of videos? What types of blog do they read or websites do they use?
2. Tell their story: Consider how to put them at the forefront of your narrative. Two great recent examples of this include The Humane Society of Silicon Valley and Starbucks. The Humane Society are an animal shelter company which created a fantastic piece of content called “Mutual Rescue”. It’s a short story about an obese man who adopts a dog named “Peety” from the Humane Society and how he transformed his life.
(Have your tissues ready for this cry festival)
The second is Starbucks and their recent campaign “Upstanders”. It’s a 10 video series about outstanding (or Upstanding) work carried out by various people in communities across America.
Some of the people featured include an Ex-NFL player who specialises in training wounded war veterans in his local gym and a Pastor in Memphis who invited a local Muslims in the area to pray at his church whilst their Mosque was being built.
What both of these pieces of content have in common is that neither of them focuses on the brands who developed it. Instead, they focus on the story of their customers or their audience.
In the Starbucks campaign, not one cup of coffee is drunk. They tell the story of community spirit, togetherness and connectivity, which is what the Starbucks brand is all about.
3. Show them the future: Finally, demonstrate how your product or service will change their futures. How will they be better off in their day to day activities with you in their world?
What will you improve and how?
Are you helping them to save time, which means they can be more productive at work or spend more time with their children?
Are you providing safety or security for them right now or in the future?
Ask yourself these two questions:
“What does it mean for my customer?”
“What does it look like for them?”.
*from the Salesforce.com website
Once you have established an answer to both of these questions, present your content to them using a medium (video, written, audio, etc.) which conveys that message with meaning and clarity.
Hate him or love him, Mr Trump’s masterful use of Influence and Persuasion played a significant part of his victory.
He positioned himself as an agent of change and used Hillary’s experience against her. She spoke on reforming policies and he focused on addressing the issues of the people.
There are certainly lessons to be learnt here for all business owners and entrepreneurs, but here are the key takeaways for everyone.
1. Get to know your customer persona intimately – Creating a customer persona is absolutely crucial. Think about your current customers or imagine who your ideal client would be and then write a short story about them and how your product / service either a) solves a problem b) fulfil a desire. If you need help then click here for a FREE template to create the perfect customer profile.
2. Create a compelling customer-centric message – Many businesses start their messages by focusing on their latest widget or newest service rather than considering their target audiences requirements. Speak to your customers and ask them how your business helps them and why they purchase your goods or services.
3. Embrace your differences – No two businesses are alike. You may sell the same goods or have the same target market, but the inner mechanics of your business will always be different to that of your competitors. No matter how small the details are, always celebrate what you do differently. If you cannot find any significant differences then ask yourself the following a) Do my competitors use live-streaming? Live-Streaming gives your the ability to show your customers the inner workings of your organisation. Start using Facebook Live and showing them all of the crazy behind the scenes action which takes place at your work place. b) One of the most important questions which customers need help considering is pricing – How are you addressing the price differences between your business and your competitors? Why are you more expensive / cheaper? c) How do you start developing new projects? Take your customers on a journey with you when you are planning and developing a new product. Use content to demonstrate how you come up with ideas and your execution process.
4. Inspire your customers to take action through the use of content – Your content should be a vehicle to take your desired customers on a journey. Every piece of content should be a natural progression along that journey transporting them to another destination. Think about the purpose of everything you create- is it intended to inform, educate or entertain that audience. Also, how does it impact their ability to take the next natural progression towards becoming a customer? Include a call to action at the end of every piece of content to point them in the right direction.
Also published on Medium.