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BLOGDon’t tell me how to think: Trump, Trudeau, and the realpolitik of marketing today

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, ViewpointTagged as: ,

Looking back, was there really a surprise that Donald Trump won the 2016 American election?  Or that Justin Trudeau won the Canadian one both in 2015 and 2019?  Or for that matter, that Brexit happened?

These three results have much in common:

  • Politicians and insiders who are perceived as privileged, and think that they know better.
  • An enormous group of pundits, intelligentsia, entertainers, media, and other so-called experts, many of whom are also disconnected from the person on the street, and who also thought they knew best.
  • The echo chamber of Social Media, which has effectively replaced mainstream journalism with individual “bubbles” where an individual is not exposed to dissenting views (or corroborating facts.)
  • Individuals who actually know best… Even if “everyone” from the first three groups thinks that they are dead wrong.

Putting aside the debate performances, the health issues, the size of the rallies, and the television commercials, it is these four fundamental factors that opened the door to outsiders.  We are now finding that many don’t want to be told how they should think, and they want to hear ideas that personally resonate.

At the same time, many people do have problems with politicians who are sexist, vulgar, lying buffoons (of course I am thinking of the former (and late) Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, another outsider), and there are many intelligent voters who never would vote for politicians who are this way.  But at this point in time, it seems the number who don’t want to be told how to think “trumps” the number who have bona fide concerns.

Interestingly, all of these outsiders are really just following a basic marketing 101 approach, albeit with their own unique angles:

  1. Define the needs of your target.  For Trump, this was jobs, immigration, security.  For Trudeau, this was jobs through spending.
  2. Use branding to encapsulate and represent your service or product.  Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan, as well as his personal brand as a businessman helped him appeal to his target.  Trudeau’s brand was in the legacy of his name and in his youth.
  3. Differentiate your offering.  For Trump, this was his outrageously politically incorrect statements, which served only to ingratiate himself with people on the street. For Trudeau, it was the message of hope, which was completely different than his competitor’s message of doom.
  4. Exploit your competitor’s weaknesses.  For Trump and Trudeau, this was the insider nature of their competitors, and their connection to scandal (Hillary Clinton’s emails and Mike Duffy/Senate.)

The most important lesson these elections hold for marketers is more fundamental: Markets are in the midst of one of the most significant transformations around: did the taxi industry (or taxi regulators) think about Uber a few short years ago?  Or the hotel industry about Airbnb?  Or the Republican party Donald Trump?  New players, new technologies, and new ways of thinking are rocking traditional players to the core.

Of course, Trump and Trudeau eventually became incumbents (and the ultimate insiders), with their own dirty laundry.  Watching their competitors, it is easy to see the basics of marketing 101, even in the age of  the COVID pandemic.

THIS WEEK’S ACTION PLAN

Do you really think that you “know best” for your prospects, clients, or members?  Do you really think that what you see, hear, and read provides balanced input for your decisions?  And do you really think that each year, business (and life) will continue on its incremental journey, step-by-step without disruption?  If so, your version of Donald Trump (or Justin Trudeau) is just around the corner.  This week, do something about it.

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
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@RandallCraig (Follow me for daily insights)
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