Donald Trump does not frighten me.
He is little more than a blowhard billionaire of inherited wealth, struggling to form coherent sentences as he endeavors to push his personal brand to the masses. He takes every opportunity to draw attention to Brand Trump, embracing the old public relations adage, “Any press is good press.” And media outlets around the globe foam at the mouth as he steps to the podium, filling their websites, Twitter feeds, television programming, radio broadcasts and printed pages with Trumpian insults du jour. His press team is busy right now preparing damage control responses. “What he meant to say was…"
What does frighten me is the fact that his irrational behavior and typical-rules-don’t-apply-to-me vitriol is striking a chord with so many Americans. I’ve traveled the country and have long said that America is a garment sewn of far too much stupidity with far too few pockets of intelligence. Unfortunately the ignorant now have a poisonous voice, and they are energized by the most unimaginable bile known to a civilized society. Children would be sent to their rooms for showing such Trumpian disrespect. High schoolers expelled. Even first-amendmenters bristle at wide-eyed Trumpeteers echoing his low-brow sputum.
Can a sane person really tread the path paved by Trump and not be considered, at a minimum, gullibly misguided? Sure. You see, it happens all the time. Every single day. And we’re all victims of the same shadowy principles – the principles of marketing.
Think about the goals of marketing. They begin with picturing and understand the end game. What does it mean to win? Selling X number of units? Developing deep consumer relationships that generate repeatable revenue? Making X gross profits?
And what would drive the selection of your product or service? This is done through research. Know your audience. Who are they, what’s important to them, what makes them happy, what keeps them awake at night? Understand the demographics of those you want to target – age, income, race, religion, values, fears.
When you know who you’re after, the next step is brand awareness, making your product or service more recognizable among the din of consumable choices. Think of McDonald’s golden arches, or the one-dimensional image of an apple on a brushed aluminum MacBook Pro. Or the combover and orange skin. That’s brand awareness.
But what really gets people on board with your brand is messaging. Something they can relate to, something that resonates with their values and fears. Just Do It speaks to the active, health-conscious, youthful. I Put That Shit On Everything is the dare-to-be-bold mantra of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Make America Great Again? Ehhhhhh...
Marketing is a calculated discipline. It’s purpose is to grab attention, convert you into a believer, and ultimately convince you to invest (financially and emotionally) in a brand. Trump is a businessman. He is a salesman. He is a marketer. He is not a leader, a diplomat, a consensus builder. He is emotional, ill-mannered, and speaks in a nearly incomprehensible stream of consciousness. He’s little more than a shucker and a jiver.
Does he actually want to lead the free world? I doubt it. There’s far too much responsibility and accountability involved. You can't claim bankruptcy and just walk away from international crises. Presidents succeed, but they also fail. And we know Brand Trump never admits to failure. He never admits to any fault, deflecting blame in the name of legal, yet ruthless, business practices, free-market principles, and capitalism…that oh so revered economic pillar designed to make the rich richer and keep everyone else down.
What is The Donald’s end game? Ultimately, brand recognition and free advertising. As President Trump, every media outlet in every corner of the world will unwittingly sell his casinos, properties, and other capitalistic pursuits at the mere mention of his name. Trump Tower, Trump hotels, Trump golf courses, Trump books, Trump natural spring water, Trump fragrance all benefit from every headline, every media mention, and every marketing and advertising impression. For Trump, it’s all about the money.
I know, all politicians use marketing. All are deceptive. And virtually all are shuckers and jivers themselves. But Trump's political brand is working on far too many people. People who unabashedly identify with what he’s saying and proposing. People who hear racism, mysogyny and xenophobia and process it as honest, uncensored, non-politically-correct statements of fact. "He's not afraid to speak his mind!"
Well, now I'm speaking my mind. And it’s the people I just described that frighten me. The torn threads of stupidity who are willing to unravel the fabric of a great nation.
Welcome to the frightening world of Marketing 101.
© 2016 Timothy Condron