No matter your feelings or mine on the 2016 election results there are a few realities to acknowledge and marketing lessons to learn..
Donald J Trump is our President, and despite all odds, advice and recommendations to run a different race he won. He appealed to an audience, won their support, and ultimately won the Presidency.
A very important message was sent last night. The message is not about politics or your point of view. This is about understanding the media. Trump understands how to command an audience using social media. He is a reality TV star who understands how to keep attention on his messaging. He knows that playing villain kept the media and its watchers tuned in to his message. There are mirrors to past campaigns.
When JFK ran for President he won debates against Nixon partly by being much more likeable on TV. His youth and charisma charmed the viewing audience. He smiled, compared to Nixon’s scowl. JFK appeared calm and confident, compared to Nixon who was pale and underweight from a recent medical procedure. This was the first election where TV played a prominent role leading up to the election.
Reagan was an actor before being elected President. His ability to speak to a crowd and rally around an idea is renown for being poignant, clear and impactful. In debates he came off as quick, witty and able to turn a criticism into a clear rebuke. In a notable exchange against sitting President Carter Reagan famously quipped “There you go again” after Carter accused Reagan of campaigning against Medicare. It was light and a very subtle jab back at Carter. Debating Walter Monday Reagan was asked whether his older age would hinder his ability to be commander in chief. Reagan responded that “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” These are classic lines that show Reagan’s ability to use turns of phrases to make his point eloquently.
Trump, in the run-up to his election heavily used social media to speak his mind on matters of national security, foreign policy, immigration and our national economy. His tone, like much of the rest of his campaign, is completely off script from a traditional campaign. And while many people in and out of his party took issue with his points of views, it was these very messages that sucked up the room for competing points of view. His use of social media garnered earned media coverage across the country.
There are three lessons for marketers.
1. Speak plainly to your audience
Whether you run ads on Facebook, create messaging for social posts, or develop your overall messaging strategy speak to your audience in simple terms. Don’t necessarily dumb down the message, but also don’t use unnecessarily complex jargon to convey your offer.
2. Use social media to encourage conversation
In addition to social media being a great way to meet new prospects and speak to people who need your product, it’s a good way to simply develop a reputation as an expert in your field. As you speak to industry topics, declare your opinion and converse with other experts you are leaving a trail of your thought leadership that helps others validate your point of view. As others share your content you have the benefit of social validation from your peers. Speak to your topic on Twitter, share blog posts on Facebook and share your lifestyle on Instagram.
3. Have a strategy
This is the most important marketing lesson. You may not know exactly the type of content that works, but like with a lot of work you do you should be systematically testing a new hypothesis. How does the content you post resonate with your audience? Is it thought provoking so that you receive comments? Does it have utility, so people share it? Test for 30-45 days. Look at how others in your field are communicating. In the programmatic space I see executives at a company retweet the same white paper for months at a time. If your strategy isn’t working find the one that does by testing new approaches and looking at competing approaches.