Playing Your Trump Card: Thinking BIG Works
On 9th November 2016, the United States populous went to the ballot box to vote for their next President. For anybody who has watched this debacle unfold, it has been absolutely fascinating (except if you are American perhaps!).
Unless you have been living under a rock, or on Mars, you will know the result, and on 20th January 2017, Donald John Trump will be the 45th American President – AGAINST ALL ODDS.
The day after the results I wrote the following post on Facebook:
“Not political in any way… Nigel [Botterill] always talks of the fact that I think BIG and most people think small so that gives me a distinct advantage. Well, last night was a pure demonstration of a marketing masterclass.
They say the secret to the sale is: 1. Find out what people want. 2. Go and get it. 3. Give it to them.
For Trump to do what he has done is incredible. His path to The White House was so narrow he had to perform miracles and there are so many lessons in there. I for one will study this from the moment he entered the race to his victory speech.
I may not like what he stands for, or like his tactics, BUT a lot of people did and that’s why he won.
Thinking BIG works !!”
I got a few responses and of course, I sparked a debate. But I was surprised at some of the comments and personal messages I received.
As mentioned above, I was not a fan of the content of the message or the misdirection etc. that both candidates were making. I was however extremely impressed with a person who was labelled a clown in 2015, managing to secure the biggest job in the western world. So I set about to understand HOW that happened.
It reminded me of Leadership course I attended at the Henley School of Management. It was three days after 9-11 and I was a 34-year-old senior exec in an international business. We were asked on the first day of the course to name an ‘effective’ leader. My peers on that day included the head of the Competition Commission Europe, the Treasurer of New Zealand, the Head of the Ambulance Service…I think you get the picture. I was the last one to answer and had sat there patiently hearing the names: Churchill, Thatcher, Ghandi, Mandella. So it was now my time and I said: Bin Laden. WOW! You could have heard a pin drop. If looks could kill; comments like ‘how dare you?’ and ‘do you have no respect?’ were levelled at me, that was until the lecturer stepped in and said he agreed with my answer and gave me the chance of explaining why.
All I said was that I hold life to be very sacred and to persuade somebody to sacrifice theirs for a ‘cause’ had to be seen as effective. Of course I did not agree with it or believe it, and condemned it, but I was not asked the question of how I felt.
I think sometimes emotions can get in the way of seeing what is slap bang in front of us.
It happened with Brexit where the leave voters were accused of all manner of things by the remain and vice versa. But hardly anybody had really tried to understand WHY people voted the way they did. They have just dug in and continued to fight their corner, throwing insults and assumptions.
One of my favourite maxims and one that adorns our office walls is from Stephen R Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (a fantastic book):
‘SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD’.
I attempt to apply this to everything I do and it has stood me really well in business and life.
Anyway back to Trump. With a new mind-set of let’s understand how the reality TV became the President Elect, not how we feel about it.
I have spent quite a while looking at the momentum the Trump campaign gathered over the last 18 months, since June 16th, 2015 when he put himself forward as the nominee for Republican Party.
I bet you did not know that Trump has been mentioned in EVERY presidential election since 1988!! One of the interesting polls I saw in 2011 Trump was placed sixth in the “ten most admired men and women living”!
One of the facts that amazed me is the Trump campaign raised only half of what Clinton raised.
Looking at his spend of around $4 million on paid media between September and the election day compared to Clinton’s £145 million for the same time.
However, Trump received so much free publicity every day from media. His comments were headline-grabbing and drew attention away from Clinton’s own campaigning, thereby hijacking her airtime.
Analysis of Twitter over a two-month period from the end of July to the end of September shows that Trump received 40 million mentions compared with 26 million for Clinton. Across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Trump has a social audience of 25 million versus 17 million Clinton followers.
He also played on the emotions of the US electorate rather than cold logic. He distanced himself from the establishment and political scene and attracted the ‘common touch’ with comments focused on not being politically correct and sometimes offensive everything a ‘true politician’ would avoid.
He had the empathy of the people; Saatchi & Saatchi believes Trump has shown an acute awareness of how to speak to the thoughts and fears of ordinary people. “The success of Trump and of the Leave campaign [in the EU referendum] is in knowing their audience.”
And the final piece of the jigsaw for me was a poll I saw around 1:30 the eve of the election when Clinton was actually in the lead in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and that for me said it all.
The poll was ‘Do you think Clinton / Trump will be able to change America for the better?’ – results in 13% Clinton and 84% Trump. When I saw that I sort of knew (based also on Brexit) that Trump would be the next US President
So there you have it: positioning, being absolutely clear on your message, understanding what your customers really want, giving it to them, being different.
Some great lessons there, odds for Kardashian in 2020…?