Nothing illustrates “group think” better than the shock that many experienced on election night when Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States. This example of the political hubris underscores the lack of understanding of the basic tenet of marketing: It’s not about you; it’s about your customer!
We as marketers must never assume (but always verify) what we are thinking especially when it comes to products, services, and even political candidates. Donald Trump understands this process. Democrats, unfortunately, do not. And it’s why they are likely to lose the mid-term elections despite prognostications to the contrary.
The Democrats’ basic mistake is this: they feel because they believe in those issues like “Medicare for all” healthcare, a relatively open immigration policy, increasing the minimum wage and a woman’s right to choose, that their fight is noble. Because they are on the side of the angels no caring American could ever vote against these logical changes to American life.
The hard fact is that in most sections of the country, voters disagree. And it’s why Democrats lose elections and have even catapulted a brash, no-nonsense New Yorker, a political novice named Donald J. Trump, to answer the clarion call — Make America Great Again.
This tagline, which sounded silly to the sophisticated but resonated with the unforgotten, spoke to them. Why? Because Mr. Trump responded with policies that catered to their needs rather than the needs of those who knew what’s best for them.
Many have decried the importance of marketing and, for that matter, branding. Their resistance to this salient factor in our politics has caused losses and will continue to do so if these laggards don’t wake up to the new normal in politics. This new normal is that marketing and branding are replacing communications and messaging when it comes to winning elections.
Candidate Obama knew this about marketing. He executed it perfectly and won the presidency in 2008. His mistake was that he and the Democrats didn’t follow through on the marketing once he (they) held office.
Mr. Obama also failed to address the central issue — it isn’t about me and my party — it’s what most Americans want to be solved that must be addressed. And as a result, he, along with his party, touched the third rail of politics — healthcare, where they did the right thing for human nature but the wrong thing politically.
Yes, Obamacare did help 20 million who did not have healthcare insurance. But in the same act, the bill alienated four times more citizens by altering their healthcare policies with premium increases, loss of coverage, and changes that only a Clarence Darrow-caliber lawyer could understand. The result: Democrats lost the house and eventually the Senate. Not a good thing.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, understands marketing and has taken this branding tactic to a new high in our politics. His transactional brand image focuses on outcomes rather than ideology, which most people in Middle America can relate. It’s what winning elections are all about. President Trump knows that people want results — jobs, less government in their lives and straight talk, a once forgotten goal for those who know better.
It’s called “Trump Speak,” which drives Talking Heads crazy but appeals to the common man/woman with language that speaks to them. People outside the Beltway understand the president while those who cover him only mock his word-salad phraseology.
Said another way: Trump is a connector for people, not a communicator. Connectors attract their respective target markets while communicators cross over to include even those who are not part of their voter base.
The president understands this and it’s why he is loved by so many and disliked by the vocal not as many. He is the ultimate Entrepreneur in Chief (See: "Entrepreneur in Chief Is This President's Brand") who adheres to the adage: lead, follow, or get out of the way.
The lesson that Democrats can learn from President Trump: Marketing and Branding are replacing communications and messaging. And it’s always easier when you have marketing and branding in mind.
Dr. John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert, known as The Marketing Doctor. JT utilizes his doctoral skills in applied research psychology to analyze the issues and personalities of the day utilizing his marketing and branding lens. This provides his readers with additional insight needed to understand the “new normal” in politics, news, and culture. Dr. Tantillo is the OpEd writer for Political Vanguard. He is the author of "People Buy Brands, Not Companies,” and the Udemy course "Go Brand Yourself!" You can follow him on Twitter @marketingdoctor and at Facebook.com/dr.johntantillo. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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