Who saw this coming? Like all of my liberal friends, I am stunned that Donald Trump is not only still in the race but well on his way to winning the nomination. That he espouses racism, has no platform or foreign policy experience and has never held elective office doesn’t seem to deter his fans—those with limited world views who don’t understand that there are consequences to actions. The office of President of the United States isn’t, after all, an entry-level position. Yet as a marketing expert, you have to step back and admire marketing strategies that are working, unfortunately, flawlessly. Here’s what we can learn from Donald Trump.
Live Your Brand
Trump owns his brand. He lives and breathes it, rarely steering off course. Trump has helped the GOP debates hit unprecedented viewer ratings because people knows exactly what to expect when they tune in to watch him. Never before have we seen this kind of entertainment value associated with political debates. Dubious though it may be, his brand practically guarantees news headlines and everyone wants a front-row seat. A strong brand helps built relationships—or in Trump’s case, voters.
2. Dominate the Media
Have we ever known a more talked-about candidate? We may find him loathesome, but we remain fascinated by his insults and diatribes. Trump clearly understands that there is no such thing as bad press and luxuriates in all of his free media attention. He enjoys nearly universal name recognition across the country, while lesser known, more qualified candidates struggle for attention. When it comes to politics, world issues, media, minorities, women and even Saturday Night Live, Trump is dominating the headlines—he’s everywhere. To dominate the media you need to be willing to take a stand on an issue and be consistent—sadly, he has mastered that.
3. Haters Are a Good Thing
If people don’t hate you, you aren’t trying hard enough. Brand haters, who may be your competitors, not only bring you more media attention but provide the opportunity to defend yourself, defend your brand, and take a stand for what you believe in. But this isn’t just about supporting Trump; there’s more going on here. People have an innate need to belong—to feel connected and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. More than being a Trump supporter, they want to be a part of making America great again.
4. Make Controversy Work for You
Trump is a master at making controversy work for him. On the campaign trail, this has been one of his driving forces. He’s skilled at taking sensitive issues and pushing them into the limelight. Trump brings attention to hot topics and forces issues to be talked about. He’s been able to break through the noise and make the 2016 campaign memorable.
5. Meet and Connect with Your Audience on Every Level
The most successful brands share common traits, such as passion, uniqueness, consistency, and exposure. Exposure used to be limited to the big brands with deep pockets, but the internet has leveled the playing field, and Trump’s team has learned to leverage this channel–more than 5M Twitter followers, 5M likes on his Facebook page and he’s passed the 750K mark on Instagram. These channels are critical in connecting with a younger audience. Trump has learned that he needs to be using all forms of media to connect with his potential voters.
Trump’s own party hates him and may attempt an end run at the Republican convention. There is every reason why he should be defeated. Now, more than ever, we need leaders who are seasoned, rational and understand the consequences of their actions. We’ve learned from this campaign that what we don’t need is another bigot with a private agenda—there are already way too many of these. Yet there are other lessons we can learn from Donald Trump—savvy marketing techniques.