3 Lessons On Marketing You Can Learn From Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign

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As the author of many, many very successful political ads over the last 4 years (see what I did there?), I feel like I can add a little bit of context to how you can use some of the things we see Donald Trump do to a positive impact on your business.

While you may love or hate or not understand what he is saying when he is talking politics, there are some important messaging lessons that you can learn because he is proving my golden hypothesis that politics is really more like a product roll out than anything else.

1. Conventional Wisdom Usually Isn’t That:

If you watch TV, you have heard tons and tons of political commentators talking about how polls, politics, and elections usually work, but this one hasn’t even come close to playing out in any way like anyone would have predicted.

Donald Trump’s saying things politicians don’t, can’t, and shouldn’t say…he’s going to have to drop out.

And the conventional wisdom keeps coming.

The reality is that each election cycle is unique. Just like any product roll out is unique. Just like any marketing campaign is unique.

There will always be similarities, to an extent, but you can’t base everything you say and do on conventional wisdom and history because things evolve and change and you have got to be in touch with your market.

2. Don’t Underestimate The Power Of A Great Tagline:

“Make America Great Again!” is a tremendous tagline and it really ends up being the theme for the Donald Trump campaign.

Donald may say a number of outrageous things about immigrants, walls, and the other candidates, but you can’t overcome the power of his tagline to coalesce a population that feels left behind and neglected by their political leadership.

Contrast that with many of the other candidates tags and themes:

Marco Rubio: In theory has tagged his campaign with “A New American Century,” but more often than not…that is buried or not present in his speeches, branding, or presentations. And, as the campaign has turned against him, his negative tone is inconsistent with this branding and tagline.

Ted Cruz: I guess he is talking about “courageous conservatives,” but again…who in the hell knows? It isn’t really out there and it isn’t really a central organizing piece of his campaign.

Hillary Clinton: She hasn’t done herself any favors because her messaging has been all over the place. If you visit her website, it really reinforces one complaint that I have had about her campaign the entire time, and that is that she focuses all of her speaking on her and what she will do. She misses a real opportunity to create a more positive connection with her audience because she hasn’t pushed a consistent message about why people should be with her.

Bernie Sanders: Bernie comes closest to Donald Trump in the power of his tagline with “A Future To Believe In.” Like Donald Trump’s, Bernie’s tagline is optimistic and gives him something to rally people around. He also does a great job of using his tagline as a foundation to incorporate people into his vision for the future.

One thing Bernie and Donald share is a lot of use of the word “we.”

For your business, its a good idea to think of a sharp, snappy way to sum up what your business is all about.

3. Make Sure You Always Maintain A Point Of View:

I think one of the challenges that many of the 20+ candidates that started out running for President dealt with was trying to be the most anodyne candidate that would appeal to everyone in their party. At least that is what it felt like when I was watching Martin O’Malley or Jeb Bush or Rand Paul.

They all had some stuff they would talk about, but for the most part…it always felt like their POVs were muted, at best.

Like, “I’m going to go only so far, but I’ll still play it safe.”

Obviously, that isn’t what Donald Trump has done.

Since the moment he entered the race, he has had a clear POV that the world can see him through. He believes that America needs to be great again, that politicians are “losers,” and that we are getting beaten because everyone that is doing the people’s work is stupid.

Right or wrong, that is a strong POV.

When you compare that to many of the other candidates, anything that say will be milquetoast.

For your business, you need to also stand up and have a POV.

If you are in consulting, don’t be the 100th person spouting the principles of Gary V. Come up with your own ideas.

If you are a restaurant, don’t just serve passable burgers…do something different.

No matter what you are, make sure it gives you a chance to take a position.

There are obviously tons of interesting things you can take from politics that apply to your business, but these were just 3 that came to me on a late night,  “Super Tuesday.”

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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