Like it or not, Donald J. Trump is one his way to becoming the 45th President of USA. Many people are wondering how a political outsider has beaten all the odds to clinch such an unlikely victory. I am not a political analyst and hence that's not much of my concern. However, as a marketer, I can't help but notice how the entire Trump campaign has been an absolute triumph of branding and marketing. He literally took the concept of “American Dream”, re-packaged it, and sold it successfully to the American people. In the process, he has showed some traits which every marketer should adopt to build a triumphant brand.
KNOW YOUR TARGET MARKET
First and foremost, for the purpose of branding, you have to identify the right target market. Almost of all Mr. Trump's efforts were concentrated on white male Americans. This is the largest demographic segment in USA as well as the segment most likely to accept the notions proposed by him. The result is quite evident through the image: Secretary Clinton got significantly more votes than Mr. Trump among all demographics except white men. This shows how choosing the right target market leads to desirable results for brands.
Once the right target market has been identified, the next challenge is to be relatable to that segment. This can be done through multiple ways: talking in the same accent/dialect of the target market, emulating their values, and so on. Mr. Trump's rhetoric in the campaign trail has all throughout been atypical of an everyday American citizen. From his vocabulary to his tone, everything was quite easily relatable to this segment. Similarly, if a brand talks in the language of its target market and/or the brand ambassadors dress up like the target market, it's more likely that the consumers will identify themselves with the brand. A good example of that in Bangladesh has been airtel, which designed all of its communication revolving around the youth.
While it might create some controversy here and there, being bold has always been a highly profitable approach by brands. I believe everyone remembers Mr. Trump's many bold statements about building a literal wall on the border or imposing term limits
on Congress members or bombing ISIS to smithereens. However, it is important to remember that there exists a fine line between boldness and being offensive. While Mr. Trump did get away with some of his borderline-offensive remarks, brands might not. And ideal example of bold communication by brands is Durex, which never hesitates to communicate its unique selling proposition in a controversial yet viral manner.
In today's world of hundreds of me-too products, standing out from the crowd is more important than ever before. Mr. Trump's biggest success factor was that he presented himself to the voters as someone who is absolutely opposite of typical politicians. He used his weakness of lack of experience in politics as a weapon of not being corrupt by it. A lot of people did not favour him for this stance, but then a major portion of American voters welcomed this apparent change. Brands that can successfully establish the novelty characteristics in their offerings have achieved similar astounding success. For example, Domino's Pizza had disrupted the whole food delivery business by its “30 minutes or free” service guarantee. Competitors later copied this promise, but Domino's reaped the benefits of being the pioneer of bringing this change to the scene.
INVOKE THE RIGHT EMOTIONS
Today's buzzword in marketing is experience. The only way to do successful experiential marketing is by invoking the right emotions. Mr. Trump took advantage of the already-existing frustration among Americans about losing jobs due to outsourcing, failed war efforts in Iraq and Syria, the perceived plethora of corruption in Washington, etc. Mr. Trump fuelled this frustration and positioned himself as the right person to solve these problems. This emotional attachment has helped him greatly in winning the war.
One point to remember is that just like Mr. Trump did a lot things right in terms of marketing, he crossed the line of basic human decency multiple times. Learning from his marketing techniques can prove useful, but his overall behaviour shouldn't be emulated by any means. While he might’ve gotten away with this due to a number of other factors, a brand will hardly survive with the same behaviour.
The writer is a marketing and branding enthusiast working in the telecom industry as a pricing strategist. He can be reached at email@example.com