Marketing strategies: Using political lessons as a metaphor to beat your competition

For your marketing strategy to work for you, you must leverage a core principle – to be unique – to differentiate from your competition.

Too many businesses fail because they try to emulate the biggest dog in their industry. But it’s important to remember you can’t beat the original by copying a well-entrenched brand.

Many others depend on winning in a zero sum game. They think they can only win by causing competitors to lose. Still others think it’s enough to be the low-price leader.

Instead what you need most is to understand your audience and start with an exemplary value proposition.

Your value proposition must clearly show how you provide innovation in products or services that provide value to your target customers.

To craft your value proposition, capitalize on the five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy.

In order of priority, here are the five perceptions: What customers think of your spokesperson and company representatives, the image of your company, your product or service utility, convenience of doing business with you and price.

Monumental lessons from politics

When it comes to understanding marketing lessons from politics, it’s important to focus on principles and not personalities.

Almost all the polls and media pundits predicted the 2016 presidential election was a done deal.

They and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assumed she would win in a cake walk – both the Democrat Party nomination and the general election.

On the Republican side, conventional wisdom was that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would win the Republican nomination.

Neither would happen. For starters, the two presumed winners didn’t understand voters were tired of the Bush-Clinton dynasties. And they underestimated an emerging political outsider.

As a businessman and elite marketer, Donald Trump knew what he needed to do. He innately understood the mood of many voters.

He defied gravity as a politically incorrect candidate with a consistent noteworthy value proposition: “Make America Great Again.”

Nobody’s going to buy from you unless they know what’s in it for them.

He was able to increase the voter base by appealing to the emotions of ignored Americans in the rust-belt and so-called red states.

He successfully addressed all five value perceptions of his customers, the voters.

He spoke well to a critical demographic, he had the image of a leader who knew how to fix the economy and create jobs, and he promised to end the worries of his customers.

Mr. Trump created a fan base and ignored his critics as he targeted the right marketing segment.

The price was right. All his customers needed to do was vote. He made it easy for them to like him.


Psychologically, he drove home a central point – to voters he became the solution to the annoying trend of political correctness.

He knew voters would equate political correctness to failure and that political incorrectness leads to success.

Through it all, his opponent, Mrs. Clinton, did not have a value proposition. She and her surrogates based her campaign solely on the zero-sum philosophy of ridiculing her opponent.

Frequency and consistency

Like businesses that astutely and consistently use a branding slogan and logo, Mr. Trump appeared the same each day and night.

He wore a blue suit, white shirt, tie and often his famous red or white hats with the make America great again phrase.

By consistently wearing his trademark blue suit, he treated each appearance like it was a major event in his campaign.

An important result: Voters felt respected.

To cut through the clutter of competition, he continued to be politically incorrect and never apologized. His supporters loved it.

Apologies would have undermined his bond with his base supporters. Instead, he revved up his base by continually going on the attack.

He understood marketing like no other candidate – Republican, Democrat or Green Party.

Mrs. Clinton didn’t and still doesn’t understand marketing. She criticized Mr. Trump’s lack of ground game and greatly outspent him two-to-one.

That’s another lesson in marketing – it isn’t possible to buy your market without a strong message.

Just as they will work for business, here are four salient elements that propelled Mr. Trump to victory:

1. Empathy

Mr. Trump empathized with his customers. He then gave them a reason to buy what he was selling.

Meantime, Mrs. Clinton failed to use the technique of empathy which her husband made famous, “I feel your pain.”

What impressions did she create? She already had a reputation for dishonesty and proudly called her opponent’s supporters “a basket of deplorables” as she continued to clumsily handle her email scandal.

By doing so, she committed a catastrophic error by violating an important marketing tenet – never insult nor take your prospective customers for granted.

2. Know your target audience and competition

Mr. Trump didn’t underestimate his opponent. He was tenacious. He continued to pound away in marketing.

He worked harder than his opponent by holding multiple rallies every day until the last-minute.

He knew he didn’t have to win the popular vote. He would win the right states to triumph in the Electoral College.

While many voters wondered about Mrs. Clinton’s coughing spouts and health, they saw a fierce competitor in Mr. Trump.

He regularly talked the language of blue-collar voters who felt overlooked and abandoned. To them, he was a breath of fresh air.

Moreover, Mr. Trump understood the salient importance of gratitude in marketing. After every speech, he thanked people in his audience at least twice.

Yes, he ended every appearance with a “thank you” at least twice, which is an oversight of many sales and customer-service people. Instead of thanking customers, they’re apt to say: “Have a nice day.”

While Mr. Trump infuriated Democrats and continued being politically incorrect, Mrs. Clinton failed to comprehend what he was doing, and she was condescending and emotional at times.

That’s another lesson: It’s never OK to give away your power by showing anger or frustration. It also underscores a point – she made the arrogant mistake of underestimating his brilliance.

She, other Democrats and media pundits still do.

3. Honest self-assessments

It’s important to correctly evaluate tactics and results. If fine-tuning is needed, get busy.

When Mr. Trump realized his message wasn’t working digitally, he brought in his son-in-law who hired an Internet and micro-targeting expert.

Meantime, Mrs. Clinton and her staff failed to monitor developments, and prevent the chaos within the Democrat Party.

Never understanding marketing principles, it typified her dysfunctional approach as she and they scapegoated the loss.

Even several months after the election, Mrs. Clinton blamed 24 “reasons” for her loss. Never once did she acknowledge how she hurt her cause by not even campaigning in Wisconsin where she narrowly lost by 1 percent.

She alienated many of her allies and continued to blame everyone but herself – from “low-information” voters to even the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for allegedly under financing her campaign.

But all her critics remember details such as her email scandals, Clinton foundation abuses and the DNC undercutting the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders which led to the ouster of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman.

4. Consistency in best practices

True, Mrs. Clinton had a ton of experienced Democrats helping her. She spent lots of money. She marketed to voters what she felt was important.

But she didn’t market what they wanted to hear. And she didn’t understand the simple brilliance of Mr. Trump’s approach.

He used classic marketing techniques. He understood the mood of many voters and empathized with their plights. He had a classic marketing slogan. He never let up.

While pundits condemned his nationalistic, America first pronouncements, he showed courage in never allowing sarcastic comments to get in his way.

Unlike Mitt Romney four years later, Mr. Trump always returned fire with fire usually twice as hard.

For conservative and blue-collar voters, that was a critical approach and will work again.

Moreover, these concepts will work for you, too.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant articles:

Critical Essentials to Develop the Best Marketing Formula — There are critical essentials for marketing, which includes the right channels and developing the right message. That includes the right branding slogan and logo and appealing to the five value perceptions of customers.

Choice of Words Matter to Convert Prospects to Customers — Many sales organizations would have an easier route to closing sales if they understood that the choice of words matter. A great salesperson always manages the sales process.

How to Newsjack for Publicity of Your Content Marketing — Newsjacking – the art and science of obtaining mountains of free media coverage and social-media spin by getting your content injected into late-breaking news stories.

For More Sales, 8 Vital Mobile Marketing Tips — Put your brand where prospects and customers are likely to see it. That means leveraging mobile marketing.

7 Tips to Draw Customers Back to Your Retail Store — Traditional retail sales are regressing mainly as a result of e-commerce growth. Here’s what retailers can do to fight the Amazon-effect.

Psychological Pricing Tips to Sell More Products, Services — Depending on your products or services, psychological pricing is based on the idea that certain prices are more appealing. Here are six options.


Nobody’s going to buy from you unless they know what’s in it for them.


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.