Marketing Lessons from the 2016 Presidential Campaign?
(1) Great marketing doesn’t feel like marketing at all. When your product is clearly unique, people want to hear about it. The difference between Trump’s nearly 24×7 new coverage and Bush’s nearly 24×7 advertising is that it feels like Bush is selling us something and Trump is explaining his product (i.e. himself).
(2) The best marketing opportunities are free. Donald Trump’s “self funded” campaign has spent almost no money compared to his rivals. His product is interesting/different enough to get free press coverage daily.
(3) Getting a visible seat at the table is a great equalizer. If your new product is mentioned in the same article, analysis or conversations as the “established players”, your product is immediately legitimized and validated. Look at the “kid’s table debates” as evidence of the alternative.
(4) Complex systems are tough to predict, even for “experts”. The presidential race is a perfect example of this. No matter your politics, the popularity of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were tough to predict and each was largely dismissed by the experts (some still are!). There are many reasons. But, I think they all stem from national politics being an extremely complex system with too many variables and unknowns to predict reliably. It’s human to want to find simple answers, but reality is often not simple at all.
(5) Framing the story is everything. The most successful candidates, especially the “underdogs,” have owned their own narratives – organizing important issues around their strengths. Most customers (i.e. voters) are drawn to the causal narratives that they can understand and relate to. Customers want to believe that things they like (for other reasons) will lead to the outcomes they desire. Conversely, voters want to believe that things they don’t like, for idealogical or similar reasons, cause (unrelated) outcomes they don’t like. This reminds me a lot of how customers talk about the products they’ve already bought or that they plan to buy. They construct and tell a causal story justifying their choice
(6) All buying decisions are emotional.
Regardless of your political views, it is very informative to watch these products be introduced, defined and marketed with extraordinary budgets and an entire multi $Bn industry (the press) critiquing them. It’s an amazing study in product marketing.
image credit: linkedin
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Geoff Nesnow‘s career began in IT where he learned about the power of technology to solve tough business problems. Leveraging that experience, Geoff’s career evolved to building and growing many different technology solutions. Today, Geoff is an experienced entrepreneur, and passionate coach, inventor and transformation catalyst, who likes building businesses across a wide spectrum of industries.
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