By Julie Talenfeld, President, BoardroomPR
America is facing a future unlike we’ve ever faced before.
For all of Donald J. Trump’s campaign promises and bluster, though, what we’re witnessing is the handiwork of our generation’s greatest salesman. People praise sales pros like Zig Ziglar, legendary ad man David Ogilvy, Mary Kay Ash, and Dale Carnegie.
But in Trump we have a true master marketer. He tore through the U.S. presidential election process and, without spending much – if any – of his own money, and cast aside an impressive line-up of Republican contenders on his way to beating Hillary Clinton.
How did Trump do it?
First, he captured the news headlines from the very start. From first deriding Mexican immigrants as “murderers and rapists” to claiming a newswoman’s menstrual cycle made her unreasonably aggressive during a debate, to a host of other inflammatory comments, his words became soundbites. And the news media couldn’t resist. He garnered billions of dollars in free news coverage. In a word, it was priceless.
Second, he mastered wordplay. Trump attached catchy nicknames to his opponents – Little Marco Rubio, Lyin’ Ted Cruz, and ultimately Crooked Hillary Clinton. Trump knows catchphrases are memorable. It belittles the opposition, becomes a sticky moniker the populace latches on to, and becomes part of the cycle’s vernacular.
Third, he’s all about image and stagecraft. Remember his entrance coming down the escalator at Trump Tower? Or the photographs of his Manhattan condo with its gold-laced interiors? He positioned himself as the billionaire iconoclast – a “maverick” in parlance of a previous campaign – and those who had grown tired of “politics as usual” saw in him someone they could back. They saw a leader.
Fourth, and most importantly, Trump is a master of the media. While he may have claimed the media was “rigged” against him (another catchy line that helped separate him from the establishment), he used the major news outlets to his advantage. An online search of Trump’s past photographs show images seemingly staged for maximum effect: Trump with his jet or helicopter behind him, or him standing beneath the golden marquee of one of his buildings.
Sure, Trump made bold – if erroneous – statements. He lied. He was boorish. But somehow, this master of the media realized that his audience were willing to look beyond his claims and lies and bluster to deliver the change they believed only he could deliver to American politics.
Like Ziglar or Ogilvy or Ash or Carnegie before him, Trump proved to be the master marketer. He packaged his brand for public consumption, tapped into people’s strongest emotions, and sold them precisely what they sought – as only a master salesman could do.
About the Author: Julie Talenfeld is an award-winning and highly respected marketing communications professional. The firm she founded in 1989, BoardroomPR, today offers media relations, branding, social media strategy and execution, reputation management, crisis communications, litigation communications, strategic planning, marketing and advertising.[/author]