How Marketing Gave Us President Trump

Growing up in India in a Catholic boarding school, a remnant of British legacy, I was exposed to the Western culture early on. I was five years old.

Nestled in the idyllic foothills of the Himalayas, we grew up learning about the world around us through histories and geographies of nations. Pop-culture from all over the World also sneaked in selling us its wares in the form of music, video-games and movies. And perched atop this pop-culture pyramid, was the United States of America. From selling us Michael Jackson to Pepsi, Levi’s to Steven Spielberg, to the exploits of an upcoming flamboyant millionaire Donald Trump, we were mesmerized.

I yearned to be in America.

And then the dot com bust happened.

And 9/11.

And the housing bubble.

And the bailouts.

In quick successions, major events occurred that changed the trajectory of America. Suddenly America found itself vulnerable from both internal and external conflicts. We saw growth of new movements — the Occupy Wall Street movement, Tea Party, the tragic incidents (Boston marathon bombing), and mass shootings.

Even the historic election of President Barack Obama got lost in all the cynicism of the day.

The process of fair elections keep democracies running smoothly. But finding a Bush and a Clinton as contestants once again, was perhaps the final deathly blow to Americas’ pride of not succumbing to dynastic politics like the rest of the world.

America had changed. And Americans were starting to question everything they had been told. Where were we heading? What was next? Another Clinton? Another Bush? Yet again?

We can hold the socio-political environment of the time responsible for Donald Trump’s election, but credit must be given to his marketing genius in promoting himself, connecting with the people and spreading his message using free social media tools!

One of the main tenets of Marketing is to sell dreams and experiences instead of products — connect emotionally with your user base, appeal to their emotions. Trump did that effectively. Starting with a very simple message of ‘Make America Great Again’, he drummed it in relentlessly and continuously. His tweets dominated the news cycles. He was there on every major political media outlet giving interviews. His optics were consistent. Blue suits, white shirts, and red or blue ties — subconsciously reminding us the colors of the US flag.

Once again, we were mesmerized.

His interviews were posted on Facebook, where his team solicited feedback, observed the trends, tone, issues people were discussing, and immediately pivoted to address said concerns in speeches or self-recorded YouTube videos.

#MAGA, #AmericaFirst, #HillarysHealth hashtags flooded Twitter. What was traditionally a big money drain, the US Presidential Campaign was reduced to tenth the cost by using smart social media marketing principles. A former golf-caddie curated his Social Media content instead of a team of Ivy-league school media consultants!

Trump knew his ‘User Persona’ intimately and he tweeted at them with relish along their ‘journey’.

PS: I immigrated to America in 2003 and naturalized in April 2012. Haven’t looked back ever since.

A clear disaster on the part of HRC marketing team for the ‘Homepage’ of their website on the right, above. Marketing 101: always use positive language. Trump, meanwhile, had a clear, simple, understandable message with just him smiling exuding positivity, optimism and confidence.
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