It is 9 am on a Wednesday morning and I wake up to “Donald Trump wins the US Presidential Election 2016”. I could not believe what I just read. 290 of the total 538 electoral votes chose Trump to be their president. Something had clearly worked well for Trump. While it could have been his very attractive orange hair, I strongly believe his rule breaking marketing strategy was one of the major factors behind Trump’s victory at the Presidential elections.
Hillary and Trump had completely opposite strategies. Where she was portraying to be a calm and composed candidate, Trump was, well, just being Trump. He decided to use his image to his advantage in this race. Where Hillary splurged on traditional media marketing, Donald spent just one third of Hillary on it.
I thought it would great to throw some light on the efficacy of his marketing strategies. Out of the many that he used in the last few months, there were some that particularly stood out. Let’s dive right into it!
- Trump went Digital
Donald Trump defied the usual political marketing strategies as he invested only a fraction ($58.8 m) of his marketing spend into the traditional media marketing as compared to his rival Hillary who spent a staggering $141.7 m until two weeks before Election Day. Contrary to the spending, Donald enjoyed more airtime than his counterpart as he earned more than $2 billion free media until February as reported by The New York Times.
Why could Hillary not earn as much free media as Donald?
Believe it or not, it was Donald’s sizzle that gave him more than twice the free media than Hillary. His atrocious, provoking and inappropriate comments on twitter and press conferences played over all news channels repeatedly. Donald readily embraced the belief that “There is no such thing as bad publicity”. This tactic shifted focus from Hillary’s plans and goals for America’s future on the news channels to Donald’s vile tweets and comments.
- Social media – fastest medium of news consumption
With nearly 50% of the people consuming news online at-least thrice a week, Trump’s marketing strategists understood that social media was increasingly replacing traditional journalism as a news source.
You won’t believe that the news about the Osama Bin Laden raid broke through a tweet by a neighbor who while complaining about the noise next door, unknowingly reported one of the biggest news stories of the decade.
Donald ruled the digital world as he tweeted constantly and provided a more touching and real experience to all his supporters. Just like Instagram and Snapchat gives us a more intimate look into celebrities’ lives; Trump gave us a closer look at the 2016 election with his instant tweets. The increase in social media consumption and it becoming a major source of news led to the rise of Trump.
- Understanding the audience
Other than the gain of free media and the social media trend, Trump’s marketing team understood its audience and did not shy away from being politically incorrect just to target the right people. Parallels can be drawn between the success of Trump and the UK Brexit. Where advocates of the Brexit positioned themselves as speaking for the common man, and his needs, the Remain campaign spoke of the distant economic results. Similarly, in the case of the US Presidential Elections, Donald Trump spoke about the underlying issues of the ordinary man. He gained trust by portraying an image of not playing by the rules of politics.
All this being said, I would like to emphasize that ‘one size does NOT fit all’. What worked for Donald Trump may not work for all political leaders. Trump’s very loud personality and the emotion driven environment played well with his marketing strategy. These same tactics could do more harm than good when applied to other scenarios. We can only wait and watch what the brands emulate from this strategy.