Donald Trump has proven one thing with his presidential run – that he is a brilliant marketer. Trump can teach all of us a lot about marketing, even if we dislike him and disagree with his politics.
Trump’s presidential campaign has actually been a brilliant deployment of modern guerilla marketing tactics that could be employed far beyond politics. These strategies can be utilized by people in many fields including entrepreneurs, activists, artists, writers, authors, bloggers, advertisers and anybody else that needs to generate publicity for a cause or product.
By identifying what Donald does right we can map out a strategy for marketing success. Even if you do not like Donald you can use some of his successful tactics to promote your own career, business or cause.
What Marketers Should Learn from Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign?
Here are 10 important lessons that everybody that engages in marketing can learn from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign:
1. Guerilla Marketing actually works
Trump’s campaign is a classic example of guerilla marketing and it is working. He has relied on classic guerilla strategies such as media appearances and publicity stunts rather than traditional American political campaign methods such as television commercials and professional get out the vote efforts.
2. Successful marketers do not need to spend a lot of money
In February, The New York Times reported that Trump had raised $27.3 million (€23.95 million) for his campaign and spent $25.6 million (€22.47 million). In contrast, Trump’s main rival for the Republican nomination; US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), raised $104.2 million (€91.43 million) and spent $59.6 million (€52.29 million). A rival who dropped out Jeb Bush raised $157.6 million (€138.28 million) and spent $129.9 million (€113.98 million. Trump proves that a good marketing strategy can overcome a lack of funds.
3. Take advantage of all the free media that you can
The New York Times reported that as of mid-March, Trump had received $1.98 billion (€1.76 billion) worth of free media exposure. That free publicity was worth three six times the amount received by Cruz: $321 million (€285.7 million) and more than twice that received by the most popular Democrat Hillary Clinton who accumulated exposure valued at $746 million (€633.44 million). Part of the reason why Trump’s campaign has been so cheap has been that all that free media exposure.
4. Cultivate good relationships with the media
One of Trump’s greatest assets is the very good relationship he has with journalists. Donald is almost always willing to sit down for an interview and make television appearances. By adopting this strategy, Trump is often able to appear at the beginning of CBS’s Evening News broadcast in the United States; which attracts 7.7 million viewers almost every day. He also regularly appears on the Sunday morning interview shows and the various cable television networks that enables the billionaire to get his message out to millions more voters for free. The only investment is Trump’s time and a little flattery to reporters and their employers.
5. The old media still matters
Part of Trump’s success has been his successful use of the old or legacy media which still reaches millions of potential customers. His regular appearances on network TV news broadcasts may seem old-fashioned to younger marketers but those shows still reach around 25.9 million viewers every night. Trump is proving that the old media still reaches tens of millions of people. The old media is still the best way to reach certain audiences such as older people the median age for a network TV viewer in the United States is around 50 years of age, Media Post concluded. That’s important to Trump because polls indicate that older people are more likely to vote than younger individuals in the States.
6. Leverage your existing assets for marketing campaigns
Trump has astutely made use of attention-getting attributes he already owns in his campaign. For example he flies around the country in his private jet which attracts attention. At the Iowa State Fair over the summer, Trump courted voters and attracted media attention by offering visitors free rides in his private helicopter. He also regularly holds campaign events at Trump hotels, golf courses and other facilities he already owns. This strategy controls costs little yet attracts large amounts of publicity.
7. A strong brand is vital to marketing success.
The greatest asset that Trump owns is the Trump brand. He has spent years developing the brand which is associated with wealth and luxury. The brand projects a reputation as a successful businessman and generates large amounts of publicity. Another advantage that Trump; like Hillary Clinton, has is that voters already know who he is. Other candidates such as US Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) and Cruz have had to spend a great deal of time and money simply introducing themselves to voters.
8. Distraction is still one of the best marketing tactics
Trump is a master of the use of distraction as a marketing tactic. He understands exactly what sort of statements or actions will distract voters and journalists from damaging information. For example during the week of March 23, 2016, when Trump lost a number of state primary races which made him look like a weak candidate, he distracted journalists by making outrageous statements about abortion. This attracted media attention, and made it look as if Trump was the most successful candidate, even though many professional political strategists were predicting he would have a hard time winning the Republican nomination and would lose the election to Clinton.
9. First impressions are the more the most important
Something that Trump seems to understand that other candidates do is the value of first impressions. For example, Donald skillfully uses social media in the form of Twitter to quickly broadcast his thoughts on important issues. He also makes bold, brash statements that are likely to be picked up by the media, and rarely follows up on them. Part of this strategy is all the bold and outrageous promises; such as barring Muslims from the US, that Trump keeps making to voters. Even though it is clear Donald has no plans to implement many of these proposals, he understands clearly that they give voters an impression of a bold and decisive man of action. Trump has established the image he wants; that of a strong leader, by making a successful first impression.
10. Perception is everything
Unlike some journalists, Trump understands that the way voters or consumers perceive a candidate or a product is more important than the truth. Through a carefully calculated strategy Trump has created the perception that he is a strong, bold and decisive leader who is willing to make tough decisions and take unpopular actions. This is similar to the way Trump has long cultivated the perception that he is a highly successful businessman, when he is not. Donald understands that the way people perceive him is more important than the actual facts. Therefore marketers can be successful by creating a perception in the popular imagination.
There is one more lesson that entrepreneurs and others can learn from Donald Trump: a good marketing strategy that is aggressively and systemically executed can overcome competitors or opponents with greater resources and superior funds. Trump should teach us all to pay attention to marketing and learn to appreciate its power.