The Trumping of America 

In September 2015, I predicted Donald Trump would win the White House simply because of his mastery of psychology-based marketing. He did not prove me wrong, for better or worse. While I don’t want to discuss the pros and cons of Trump’s win, I do want to review the lessons his campaign presents to brands when it comes to understanding human psychology and tapping into our emotions, thoughts, behavior, votes and purchases.

Donald TrumpIn September 2015, I predicted Donald Trump would win the White House because of his mastery of psychology-based marketing. He did not prove me wrong, for better or worse.

While I don’t want to discuss the pros and cons of Trump’s win, I do want to review the lessons his campaign presence demonstrated. Successful branding comes with an understanding of human psychology, which enables us to tap into our audience’s emotions, thoughts, behavior, votes and purchases.

I will reiterate Trump’s successful campaign strategies:

“I’m Just Like You”

Trump’s goofy, off-the-cuff persona made him real and approachable. He was not polished, like the politicians he promised to “drain from the swamp.” Instead, he was candid, said things he shouldn’t have, and sniffed and grumbled, like all of us do. He was human.

Follow the Winner

From the beginning of the campaign all of the way to the end, Trump’s stump speeches all followed the same theme: “I’m winning. Here, there and everywhere. And I’m winning bigly.”

Popularity Matters

Life is a popularity contest and any publicity is good publicity. Trump successfully attracted massive amounts of media attention by acting outrageously: People just couldn’t resist talking about it. The media has played along his whole life — even more so during the campaign. His shenanigans stole attention from Hillary Clinton in the weeks leading up to the election, and that was the last nail in her coffin. He had won the media war.

Trump Campaign Conclusion

These tactics all cater to the basic fundamentals of human psychology. The fundamentals are so powerful that they trumped reason and rationality in this election. Hillary’s campaign rationale — Who could vote for a person like him — fell on deaf ears and silent media channels. I’ll explain why, along with some insights on how these principles can apply to your brand positioning.

Is the Entire Trump Campaign Just a Revenue-Generating Marketing Ploy?

You can say a lot of negative things about Donald J. Trump, but he can never be accused of not being a business opportunist. As this election cycle painfully swirls to a close, Trump has cleverly set himself up for his next income stream, whether he’s in the White House or not.

Donald TrumpYou can say a lot of negative things about Donald J. Trump, but he can never be accused of not being a business opportunist. As this election cycle painfully swirls to a close, Trump has cleverly set himself up for his next income stream, whether he’s in the White House or not.

Take a step back for just a moment and consider this: You’re sitting in a strategic planning meeting with a brand whose popularity is on the decline. Revenues have been slowly sinking, consumers have been losing interest in your products and services, and the brand is considered old-fashioned or stale. As a marketer, what do you suggest?

Revamp the brand with fresh new messaging and content? Create new brand extensions that might appeal to a new audience? Abandon products or services that are no longer making a positive contribution to the business? Generate brand buzz with timely and relevant offers? Cement brand loyalty by listening to your loyalists, and then tapping into their hearts and minds by giving them what they’re asking for? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes!

Now consider this:

In the late 1980’s, Trump toyed with a presidential run while he struggled with the financial debt of his purchase of the Taj Mahal casino and the bankruptcy of the Trump Plaza Hotel.

In 2000, Trump announced his candidacy as a Reform Party candidate. He was in financial struggles again after:

  • “Trump: The Game” had been discontinued
  • Trump Airlines had failed to turn a profit
  • Bought, sold, bought and sold the New Jersey Generals
  • Trump Hotels and Casinos Resort filed for bankruptcy – twice
  • Trump Mortgage fails

In March 2009, Trump joins Twitter but doesn’t tweet anything significant for 2-years.

In January 2011, Trump tweets a link to his fan-made website shouldtrumprun.com – and leverages feedback to craft his new brand message.

In March 2011, Trump is a leading presidential contender.

In May 2011, Trump announces he will not run. During the remaining months of 2011:

  • Trump Vodka fails
  • Trump Steaks fails
  • Trump Ice fails
  • Trump University fails