What The Trump Campaign Teaches Us About Marketing

by Christopher Lewis

Let me start by saying I’m not a Donald Trump supporter. I’m far from it actually. And I say that knowing I could possibly offend at least a third of registered republicans, according to the latest polls.

But as much as I loathe the idea of a Trump presidency, I have to admire his marketing genius. He’s tapped into something – drilled right into the mother lode of political discontent and knows how to mine its rewards. He’s leading the polls. He’s dominating the conversation. He’s changing the way campaigns are played.

Be honest, wouldn’t you love it if your business was as successful as Donald Trump’s campaign? Of course you would. Well, at the very least we can follow three ideas that can propel any marketing strategy in today’s climate.


If there is anything the Trump campaign has taught us is that there is power in being the outsider. The same could be said about the success of the Bernie Sanders campaign as well.  We again live in time when there is much distrust towards institutions. Government has let us down. The system is rigged and the rich get richer. No one is looking out for the little guy. True or not, these ideas prevail so the question is how do I communicate to those who feel this way? How do I gain their trust? Following Donald Trump’s lead, you present yourself as the outsider battling the system. You are Mr. Smith heading to Washington and you’re doing it for the everyday-man. How American is that? It’s a classic tale and if Trump can sell himself that way, anyone can.

And it doesn’t matter whether your business is a part of the establishment or not. The point is to tell a story that shows how you’re different; how what you offer or sell goes against the grain. Find something that defines you as a maverick and tell that story. Write blogs about it. Highlight it in your email newsletters. But whatever you do, tell this story.


On a personal level, this one kills me but I can’t deny its effectiveness. Keep your message simple. Boil it down to its essence and drive it as far as it will go. Personally, I like dealing with complex subjects, but it’s not always the most effective approach when it comes to marketing. So pick one message. We worry too much about excluding a particular audience and many times our message is too complex, too convoluted. First you must truly understand the audience you’re communicating with. Get specific – narrow it down to an age, a single desire. Narrow it down so you see one person in the end. That’s your audience. Then pick the one message that’s most important and push it.

Trump made headlines about immigration when he kicked off his campaign and it changed the whole dynamic of the race. His competition had to change their messaging to keep up.

And pay attention to how he delivers his message. It’s broad but it’s direct. There’s no nuance. “I’m gonna make America great. I’m gonna build a wall and get Mexico to a pay for it.” It’s not much but it’s effective.

Lastly, don’t talk to down to your audience in the process. You can simplify your message and still act like your audience is on your level.


Always give your audience the benefit of the doubt. They’re smarter than you think they are, and today’s consumer is much more sophisticated than usually given credit for. Your audience doesn’t like sales-speak, doesn’t like spin, and their ears are much more sensitive to it than ever before.

I want you to take another look at your competition’s messaging and ask yourself if it sounds like it came from their latest press release. Is it conversational or does it remind you of a bad business email? If it does, then you know what to do to stand apart.

So tell it like it is. Tell it as if you were sitting at a bar and having a drink with that person. Be candid. Be transparent. Be bold.