“Trump”-eting: Marketing Your Way to Inauguration Day [3 Key Takeaways]

Friday. Inauguration day. Doomsday. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Ok, this article is NOT a political rant. However, there will be the occasional stab. If you’re okay with that, let’s continue!

Regardless of your political sway, as marketers there are some positive points we can all learn from in regards to the way the Trump Presidential campaign was constructed. And, unlike most of the President-elect’s Tweets, these points will be accompanied with facts. Oh SNAP!

Here are 3 positive aspects of the Trump Campaign that we, as marketers, can learn a great deal from!

1. Spend Smart

Looking at the graph below from the New York Times, we see where Trump’s Ad spending stacks up against other Presidential hopefuls as of February of 2016.


*source The New York Times

Wow, Trump is nearly square in the middle. Trump’s ad spending was less than half of Clinton’s, and by September of 2016, Trump had spent only about 1/5th of Clinton’s campaign.

What He Did

Rather than spending money on ads, The Donald looked to social media and earned media to drive up one of the most important brand quantifiers: Recognition

Trump raised far fewer dollars than Clinton, so he spent them well. By staying active in social media, he used his polarizing remarks (which he could control) to lead to active earned media responses (which he could not control). While his social media rants were often hateful, these responses lead to a strong Brand Recognition, strengthening his grip on his target market. He was able to find the “forgotten customer” and play to their wants and desires.

Currently, Donald Trump has 20.1 MILLION Twitter followers and over 17.6 million Facebook Likes, compared to Clinton’s 12.1 million and just over 10 million Facebook Likes.

What We Can Learn

Consider your ROI on every possible marketing dollar spent. Is there a way to get an exponentiating return? What if you had half as much marketing dollars to spend than your main competitor? Would you make different choices? If yes, why? Asking these types of questions can help identify areas of neglect where your should be spending your marketing budget.

Next, consider spending in marketing channels that may not be the strongest, but may have less competition which will bleed over into other channels. This has two advantages:

  1. you can begin to dominate the channel (due to less competition)
  2. increased opportunity to bleed into other channels creating exponential return

For example, event marketing is usually not the strongest place to spend your marketing dollars. However, events have very little competition and a high chance of bleeding over into other channels. High profile events are often covered by news media, both written and television, and more often than not begin cycling up social media engagements within your industry.

While this can work very well, always keep in mind who you are trying to reach. This leads to our next point.

2. Know Your Audience

This is where the Trump campaign absolutely nailed it, however unnerving it was. Trump was able to identify his audience and find a few key triggers that would unify them.

What He Did

Trump didn’t play a political game. He didn’t spend money on a multi-million dollar television campaign. He realized that 78% of Americans have a social media profile. By leveraging social media he honed in on his audience, the self proclaimed “forgotten” white, working class, and was able to earn billions of dollars of earned media with his outrageous statements.


*source The New York Times

What We Can Learn

While I do not believe such divisive strategies are good for brands or companies (or humans for that matter) it does show the importance of 1) having a clearly defined position and 2) offering and pushing that position with confidence. This confidence can only come after you have identified your audience and have put them first.

An essential way to build audience understanding is through a buyer’s persona exercise. For an in-depth look at this incredible tool and step-by-step directions on how to create them, download our free buyer’s persona worksheet.


3. Give Your Audience a Job

Let’s take a moment and disect the two candidates’ campaign slogans.

Donald Trump


Hilary Clinton


Notice a key difference? Trump’s slogan is asking for action from its constituents. It is proactive, it is moving forward and paints a future picture. Clinton’s is static, vague and vanilla. In other words, Trump was giving his audience a job to do.

What He Did

In just four words, Trump was able to:

  • Admit a problem
  • Identify a need
  • Offer Salvation
  • Unite his audience

Sound familiar? It’s nearly identical to the buyer’s journey!

  • Identify a problem (awareness)
  • Offer valubale solutions (consideration)
  • Close a deal (decision)

What We Can Learn

Understanding not only your audience, but also understanding your audience at each step of the buyer’s journey enables you the opportunity to ask for action. When your prospects see that your company values them enough to spend time in understanding their concerns, understanding their problems and working hard to deliver solutions, they are much more interested in “doing the job” that you have asked them to do.

Donald Trump HairHOWEVER, it is important that our solutions are not empty promises… yeah, we’re looking at YOU, Trump. As soon as your prospects feel neglected, your market can turn on you faster than Trump’s hair on a helipad.

*Image source Splash News


Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not advocating, in any way, for brands to begin polarizing themselves through agressive, mean-spirited social media attacks like Trump. However, I do believe we can use these aforementioned lessons from the Trump playbook to compete in a smarter way.

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