Marketing Lessons From Donald Trump’s Campaign

On 8th November 2016, the unthinkable happened. Beating all projections by political pundits across the globe, Hillary got Trumped. The United States of America was shocked, and so was the rest of the world. There was confusion and commotion. Twitter overflowed with tears of hope and despair. While Trump supporters erupted in joy, Hillary supporters were out on streets with placards reading, ‘Not My President.’ All the drama apart, the perceived David had once again won against the seemingly overconfident Goliath.

The jury is still not out on whether Trump’s election will really ‘Make America Great Again’ or will he go down in the world’s history as a mere gimmick. However, his election campaign does have some invaluable marketing lessons for all aspiring mark Gods. He may not end up as America’s best president, but he is surely the best marketer to have ever held that position.

Presented below are few of the learnings from his campaign:

1) Be receptive to the winds of change

From Arvind Kejriwal’s election in Delhi to Britain’s exit from Europe, both these events had a stark similarity. It represented people’s will to opt for unconventional choices. Going by such trends, it was probably unwise to rule Trump out of the election race.

The lesson: Always account for the environment surrounding your market. You may have an excellent product and a market to sell that product but if the environment is unfavourable, the chances of success may be grim.

2) Find your target audience

Trump exactly knew the kind of people to target, and he went after them. Rather than trying to please everyone by making ‘politically correct statements,’ he only appealed to that section which he knew was most likely to vote for him. In the process, he may have alienated a few but garnered support from a much larger section.

The lesson: The one size fits all approach will no longer work. Identify your audience and target your offerings towards them. In short appeal to some not to everyone.

3) Address the need gap

There was a section of American citizens that felt powerless in the system. They believed that immigrants were the source of all their troubles. From snatching their jobs to sponsoring terrorism, they wanted someone to take the bull by the horns. Trump did just that. Rather than equivocating on these issues, he clearly spelt out his stand on all such issues. He successfully filled the void that had been created by the other nominees.

The lesson:  Identify what the consumer wants that the current players in the market are not offering. Having figured that out align your product or service to fill that need gap.

4) Master the art of storytelling

Donald Trump through his entire campaign sold the US citizens a story. A story of what America would be like upon his election. From creating jobs to fighting migrants, he cleverly weaved a story and sold it to his voters!

The lesson: Craft a story. Create a vision. Weave it beautifully in a few sentences and make sure your prospective customers buy into it!

5) Create a cult around your product

Trump did not have supporters; he had followers. His followers would swear by every word he uttered and spread his messages like a wildfire. On social media, any opposition to Trump was met with rather an impoliteness. The huge turnout at his rallies was also a testament to the cult that he had created in a short period.

The Lesson: Involve your customers. Listen to their views on social media. Run campaigns which actively engage with them and earn their loyalty.

And last but not the least. It’s all about the slogans. The world’s best and probably the most everlasting campaigns have been built on some memorable slogans. Be it Nike’s Just Do It, Narendra Modi’s Abki Baar..or Trump’s Make America Great Again. These catchy slogans resonate easily with the customers and go a long way in crafting a niche in their minds. So the next time you have an amazing product in mind, make sure to complement it with an equally good slogan that would echo for years in the consumer’s mind.




About the Author: 

Samaksha Vaish is a first-year student at IIM Lucknow. On campus, he is also a member of the Industry Interaction Cell and Manjunath Shanmugam Trust.

samaksha vaish

Samaksha Vaish is a second year student at IIM Lucknow. He is also a member of the Industry Interaction Cell and Manjunath Shanmugam Trust.