Donald Trump: What Marketing Lessons is He Demonstrating?

Donald Trump is running for President

Donald Trump Marketing

Who knew?

Oprah suspected it when she interviewed him back in 1988.  Link below.

And the Simpson’s knew.  They did a skit way back in 2000 – “Bart in the Future” – 2030 – where Lisa, as the first female President, is taking over the Whitehouse after Donald Trump.  Not pretty.  Link below.

Yes, it is 2015 and the fact that Donald Trump is running for President is not the only stranger than fiction piece.  The fact that he is leading the herd of Republicans nominees may be the strangest part.

In a recent Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me episode, (a radio show I listen to without fail every Saturday), Paula Poundstone verbalized Donald Trump’s appeal.  Paraphrasing her comments:

He keeps it interesting.  Without him, the race would be so o o o boring.


Donald Trump - Marketing - Poundstone Tweet

Mark Cuban believes Trump is tapping into something that “is changing politics”.  His premise is people are tired of the scripted politician.  Even though Donald is chewing on his words most of the time, the bottom line is he is taking all of the air out of the room for Republicans and Democrats.  Link below.

The media doesn’t cover the other candidates because Trump is so reliable in stubbing his verbal toes and creating viral sound bites for social media.

Even Seth Godin is getting into the political Republican fray by giving away $10,000.  Link below.

The bottom line?  We are all watching and hearing Donald Trump put his foot in his mouth, daily if not hourly, and a segment of the public loves him.

We live in strange times.

Trump Disclaimer 

Before going on, I should clarify that TMB (the marketing bit) is not a political blog.  It is all about the marketing one’s business.

The purpose behind this post is not to talk more about Donald.  The media is doing a fine job of that.

The purpose of this post is to learn some marketing lessons from Trump’s meteoric rise.

The chances are high that you don’t want to be like Donald Trump.  But you may want to leverage what he is doing to create all of this great visibility, but do it for your businesses, tastefully and without the hair.

What exactly is he doing to achieve the success he has in such a short period of time?

Are there marketing lessons that can translate into action for a business owner without becoming an imitation of Donald?

I think there are lessons we should all pay attention to.

1.  People are tired of sameness

In a world where we are blasted daily with tens of thousands of messages every hour from our dens, living rooms, smart phones, computers, etc.,


Do your communications stick out? 

Are you saying anything that cuts through the noise or are you stuck in the deep mud with everyone else? 

Or worse, are you parroting whatever it is that someone else is telling you to say? 

2.  Don is authentically Donald Trump

Trump may be an obnoxious blowhard, but you have to give him his due in that he states what he believes and he’s not afraid to say it.  After all, he’s a very rich guy, or so he says.

The teachable lesson is that people respond to that level authenticity.  They know he is being authentic because who else would be courageous (or stupid) to say whatever was on your mind?

Seriously, our BS meters are finely tuned instruments thanks to the Internet and social media where all information is stored.  We can identify a fake a mile away.

We may not like what we hear or who we hear it from, but we know when someone is being authentic because so few are.  Tweet 

Being authentic goes a long, long way in today’s marketplace.

Are you being authentic in your marketing or are you just going through the motions?

3. Be memorable

It is not just the really bad, bizarre although strangely creative, comb-over that makes Trump so memorable.  Although it is interesting that being filthy rich can’t buy a good head of hair.

Few could say that Trump hasn’t stamped himself on their brain, particularly in the last few months.

‘Being memorable’ is not just about the hair.  It’s about the package.

What is in the Trump package?

  • The Hair
  • Expensive suit and tie
  • Baseball cap when going casual
  • Conservative blue collar irreverence
  • A bragging quality that is typically reserved for backrooms and not on public display – only it is now public
  • Stretches the truth to fit his thinking
  • An adolescent quality in how he responds to criticisms

It doesn’t matter if you admire Trump’s package or not.

Your package is what matters and the elements that define it.

What IS your package? 

How does your audience view your business personality? Is it memorable or is it invisible?

Have you hand-crafted a business personality or have you allowed your business to be defined by the market or by others? 

4.  An audience for Trump

Either by happenstance or design, Trump has managed to find an audience.  And he is playing to them for all it is worth.

But the teachable lesson is the simple identification of an audience.  They, no matter how big or small, are the ones who are connecting with Trump and he with them.

5.  Tapping into the emotions of that audience

Trump will never have mass appeal.  Rather, he has tapped into an audience who seem as frustrated, fearful and adolescent as he.

I envision this audience as folks who want more for themselves and not so much for others.  They are the fringe folks who spend most of their day angry things aren’t going their way, waste their time worrying about birth certificate, and begrudge Hispanics from getting an education or gays from marriage.

Now, they have a spokesperson in Trump.

What he says and how he says it resonates with them. They like what they hear.  His reward?  He is currently leading in the New Hampshire and Iowa state polls.

Donald Trump - poll

Obviously, I don’t associate with the Trump camp, but I may associate with your camp.

I may be looking for a trusted real estate broker, a real savvy business accountant or a competent lawyer or a really skilled dentist.

The question is:

What are you saying to your audience that taps into their emotions?

If you think you may need some help answering any of these questions, send me some information about yourself and let me know which question you need help with.

I’m happy to help.

Click here.

In the meantime, watch Donald Trump.  Ask yourself:

How can I get the Trump traction by being ME and not Donald?

Share your thoughts below or send me an email.


Oprah’s interview of Donald Trump in 1988

The Simpson’s Prediction of Donald Trump’s Presidency in 2000

Mark Cuban’s comments regarding Donald Trump’s run for the Presidency

Seth Godin’s offer for a signed copy of his book or $10,000 to rank order the candidates as they drop out of the race.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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