How Sales and Marketing Best Practices Helped Trump Win the Presidency
By: Sunny Nunan – Founder & CEO of Core24 & The Admin Awards
First, a few disclaimers. I am not a Trump supporter. I did not vote for him. I did vote for Hillary. These observations are not bipartisan.
Second, I also can’t say for certain whether or not Trump is truly what you would classify as a successful businessman. He’s made — and lost, tons of money. He’s had failures and come backs – which I consider a sign of success, for sure. His name is everywhere you look. He owns a lot of dirt. He employs thousands of people.
Whether he’s a good boss or not is truly known only by those that have worked for him. That’s the extent of my knowledge about Trump, ‘the businessman’. But what I do know, is over the past several months I witnessed a fascinating case study unfold before my very eyes on how best practices in sales and marketing helped win this dealmaker the presidency. Here are my observations.
He fired people up.
Of all the attributes of a successful entrepreneur, the ability to get others pumped up, excited, inspired by and rallied around a common cause are among the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur. People buy things from other people that are full of passion for their product, service or in this case – their political agenda, and salespeople know this better than anyone. It matters not what the prospect thinks, only what the salesperson thinks and we all knew what Trump thought since the beginning of this campaign; He could make America great again. And people bought it.
He had one consistent and simple message.
One of the most difficult things to do when developing a brand is to convey a clear and concise message that really resonates. Whether you think America is still great, or needs to be made great again, you know who’s behind the question. Make America Great Again was powerful, consistent, spoke to the hearts and minds of millions of Americans everywhere who responded favorably to that message on November 8th. It makes the instant leap from ‘what’ to “why” which best-selling author Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why will tell you is key. In contrast, Hillary’s slogan, “I’m with Her” was powerless. Where are we going, to the office? The library? It said nothing about what she stood for or why she was running and why people should follow. It’s also not a slogan she could repeat herself, countless times, like Trump did with Make America Great Again. “I’m with Me” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
He was authentic. Like him or not.
In an age where everything – especially politics — feels contrived, premeditated, politically correct and pre-rehearsed, Donald Trump was himself from day one and people responded to that with unwavering “for better, for worse” support. This authenticity, whether you liked it or not, bought him quick forgiveness by his supporters for all the things that came out of his mouth that shocked the nation because “he is who he is — and It’s refreshing” which we heard on the news again and again from people around the country.
We knew what made him different.
While he may have been unable to articulate how he was going to get his political agenda accomplished, he was very clear about what made him different than other politicians on both sides of the party line. And he was unapologetic about his views and his communication style of those views — both of which often differed significantly from other candidates. Not only did he clearly communicate his beliefs and the changes he would make as a result of those beliefs, he was also relentless in his communication on what made him and his candidacy different and people got it.
He got face to face.
In an age of digital everything it’s really tempting to believe that electronic communications are both efficient and effective in “closing the deal.” Not true. Getting face to face with decision makers builds trust, expedites the sales process and greatly increases the chance they’ll buy from you. Trump “the dealmaker” knew that and got out there, like no other candidate I’ve seen in my lifetime. Traveling from city to city, rally after rally getting face to face with decision makers – American voters — and it worked.
There’s no such thing as bad PR.
I don’t think I fully embraced this concept as an entrepreneur until now. I used to think that this was one of the outdated philosophies from my marketing textbooks from the 90’s but now I’m not so sure. When you consider that Trump spent about half as much as Hillary did on ad buys you really appreciate the power of free PR – even if it’s not flattering. Like you, I’ll keep working on doing good things to generate positive PR for my companies but if we make a misstep that lands us in the news, hey, it might not be so bad after all.
He hustled. From the very beginning.
Those closest to Trump say he has boundless energy, always has and still does – even in his 60’s. Every time you turned on the television he was in a different state at a different rally. One glance at Trump and Clinton’s campaign schedules and you see a striking contrast. He was out there, everywhere, hustling and according to the experts, she was not as active on the campaign trail until the final days when polls revealed that states were wavering that she thought she had locked up months ago. Hustling out of desperation doesn’t quite have the same impact that hustling because you’re so pumped up about something does. It might help dig you out of a hole if you’re lucky, but if you hustle from the beginning it can prevent you from falling into it in the first place. A good lesson for all of us.