Marketing your brand: Donald Trump-style

donald-trump-with-doll

Image via CNN

Along with pretty much the rest of the whole world, we here at Studio Culture are currently trying to piece together exactly WTF happened in the US election.

Come January, Donald Trump’s going to be 45th President of the United States. Look at that picture of him holding up a figurine of himself, and think about that for a second.

What happened?

We don’t claim to be experts on global politics or large-scale social science, but we are in marketing – and we’ve identified a few things that have helped us make sense of the situation.

The Donald’s campaign strategy centred itself on a little thing called inbound marketing. Quite a difficult thing to pull off, but hugely effective when it’s done right.

Inbound Donald

In today’s oversaturated day and age, it’s truer than ever that the best way to get your brand noticed is via inbound marketing. That’s what Donald understood and played on from the get-go. Some would say he’s done it his entire career.

Say you want to be noticed, but you’re stuck competing against some already quite high-visibility brands. What do you do?

Understand your target market

Image via BBC

Image via BBC

Trump latched onto a few key things that he constantly drove home throughout his campaign. He identified his audience as the millions of working class Americans feeling left behind in the aftermath of the GFC, watching their jobs go abroad.

So he spoke passionately about trade, often at length, and did it in a way that was immediately relevant to that target market. He spoke to their concerns – plummeting manufacturing levels, jobs being lost – and grilled his opponent on her supposed responsibility.

Trump understood the concerns of his potential voters, and won them over by telling them exactly what they wanted to hear – very loudly.

Have a clear branding message

Image via LockerDome

Image via LockerDome

Trump was up against a unique political brand with decades of experience. But despite her obvious prestige, Hillary Clinton’s campaign relied on some pretty stale marketing.

Clinton’s campaign slogan was “Stronger Together” – a decidedly positive message, but one with an altogether lack of staying power. “Make America Great Again” though? That’s an actual call to action. It’s bold and drastic – the exact qualities Trump sells his entire brand on.

And if you scroll through @realDonaldTrump for even two seconds, you’ll find him tweeting about the same topics in the same tone he’s found so much success with.

Eliminate the competition

basket-of-deplorables

Image via @alivitali

Trump and his “deplorables” exploited Hillary’s various slip-ups relentlessly. The blunt labelling of his opponent as “Crooked Hillary”, as well as that chant of “lock her up” all but eliminated the competition.

This article sums it all up pretty well: “just telling consumers that they have to be more progressive, future-thinking and accepting of change clearly didn’t work for Clinton… Why would the outcome be any different in marketing?”

Trump’s camp identified voters’ underlying mood much better than Clinton’s. And more than that, Trump acted very carefully and determinedly upon that understanding, and it proved for results.

Now what?

Trump isn’t a billionaire business mogul and President-Elect now for nothing. He’s arguably among the best marketers in the world, with one of the most carefully honed personal brands in the world.

Creating results for your business and elevating your noticeability starts with developing content that customers can easily link to your brand, and start engaging with on a deep level.

There’s no way Trump was anywhere near as surprised as the rest of us when he finally won. He and his strategists knew exactly what they were doing. They were simply one step ahead – and that’s the biggest value factor up any marketer’s sleeve.


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David is Studio Culture’s Head of Digital Marketing.