What Can Donald Trump Teach You About Marketing?


I’ve been watching Donald Trump for months and I’ve learned a lot from him concerning marketing my own business.  No matter whether you like him or not, Donald Trump is a master at marketing.  Just look at the polls and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

The goal when you’re marketing is to grab your audience’s attention.  Trump certainly does that.  Here are 5 lessons (credit: Entrepreneur.com) that we can all learn from Donald Trump as we plan our marketing strategies:

1. Know your audience.

Donald Trump doesn’t care if you love him or hate him. He’s playing to a very select crowd of voters who believe in his message and who want to support him. There’s something about Trump’s tough-talking “I don’t care what the experts think” attitude that appeals to Republican primary voters in 2015. Lots of Republican primary voters are feeling frustrated and are passionate to take back the White House. Trump is giving voice to feelings that are widely shared in that political party.

In the same way, your brand doesn’t have to appeal to “everyone.” Know your target market and speak to their concerns in a relevant way.

Related: 3 Communication Lessons Businesses Can Learn From Donald Trump

2. Know your brand.

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump knows who he is. The Trump that we’re seeing on the campaign trail is well known to New Yorkers (I’m a native New Yorker myself). We have watched him for decades become famous as a New York real estate developer, bestselling author and TV reality-show contest business mogul on “The Apprentice.” Trump hasn’t changed. He’s just talking about politics now instead of business deals. But he’s always been bold and brassy, with a take-no-prisoners attitude.

The lesson: Your brand needs to stand for something. Lots of people are not fans of Trump, but even people who oppose his candidacy find themselves grudgingly admiring the consistency of his brand message. What you see is what you get.

3. Be audacious.

Trump has said a lot of outrageous things during the campaign, from inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants to accusing John McCain of not being a “war hero,” but every new media gaffe or media whirlwind just seems to boost his performance in the polls. The reason: Trump’s core supporters respect him for speaking his truth, even if he’s not saying it in a polite, genteel way.

Most political candidates are so polished and focus-grouped that it’s almost impossible for their real feelings and emotions to come out. Trump is in your face, every day, with unvarnished depictions of life as he sees it. He’s not afraid of what anyone thinks about him, and it shows.

The lesson: Don’t be afraid to really stand for something as a brand, even if it’s controversial. Too many companies try to be blandly inoffensive in a failed attempt to be “mainstream” and appeal to “everyone.” It’s better to be memorable, even if you lose some customers who don’t “get it,” as long as you keep appealing to the niche market of customers who love you the most.

Related: Donald Trump Can Get Away With It, But You Can’t

4. Trust yourself.

Trump doesn’t follow focus groups. All candidates these days test out their message, trying to find the right combination of words and issues to appeal to the right demographic segments of voters. But often, candidates end up sounding excessively “focus-grouped.” The real human connection of the candidate gets lost in trying to appeal to too many people. Trump seems to be resonating with conservative Republican voters because he’s so unrehearsed and unpolished — he’s not afraid to speak off the cuff. Every day on the campaign seems like he’s just really talking about whatever is most urgently on his mind at that moment.

The same goes with your product. It’s good to do some market research to find out whether a new product is viable, but it’s even more important to trust that you have a good idea. If you feel that way, trust that others will feel the same. I’ve seen so many great ideas become convoluted and watered down, when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. If you try to make your product appealing to everyone, you’ll ultimately end up appealing to no one.

5. No apologies.

Trump is like no one else we’ve seen in presidential politics in recent years. He seems to have absolutely no sense of regret or shame. He says what he says, he calls it like he sees it, and then he moves on, ignoring the critics. Has Trump ever apologized for anything? He seems incapable of admitting to mistakes or being wrong.

This raises an interesting question for your brand: when should you apologize? If a customer has a bad experience with your product, should you apologize? Or should you just give them a refund and move on, writing it off as “Well, they’re not the right kind of customer for us?” If someone is offended by or misunderstands something your company posts on Twitter, should you apologize? Should you ignore the critics, or try to learn from them?

It’s hard to know when to draw the line. If you apologize too often, you’ll find yourself catering too much to customers who really don’t understand the value of what you offer. But if you don’t apologize when an apology was really warranted, you might damage your brand. You have to toe the line between maintaining your brand reputation and doing the right thing. Don’t spend all of your energy on trying to make bad customers happy.

Trump embodies the purity of a certain kind of bold, no-apologies approach to doing business. He’s almost Zen-like in his clear-headed refusal to get bogged down in details of saying “sorry.” He just keeps moving forward and on to the next deal. There’s something so refreshing about that, but not all brands can pull it off.

Whether you’re voting for Trump or not, there’s no denying that he’s a fascinating one-of-a-kind figure in American politics and business. You don’t have to become like Trump to learn from how he’s marketed himself and built his brand.

I hope you had as much fun reading this as I had preparing it for you.  Leave me your comments below and share with all of your friends on Facebook and Twitter if you found value.

Till next time,


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P.S. If you don’t have a marketing plan and want help, click here for the BEST system to teach you everything you need to know about marketing online!

13 thoughts on “What Can Donald Trump Teach You About Marketing?

  1. I have watched mostly the media reports we get via BBC on Tramp and the BBC are quite “republican” while claiming shock over the Tramp gaffes. They quite like to call it entertainment.

    That said His tough guy, Lets get it, I don’t care what you think attitude and stance has made him hugely successful in business and we cannot deny that. Trust Yourself, Let our Brand Stand for something and stand out for all the reasons doesn’t matter whether right or wrong…the last one is a but hard to swallow lol!
    Whether it will get him into the White House We the rest of the world are watching. Very well thought out article Jan I enjoyed it!

    1. It’s interesting to hear what my friends from outside the United States think about Trump, so thank you for your well thought out response to my post, Julie! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate you!

  2. Thank you for sharing Jan, I admire Donald Trump’s marketing standard, his take no prisoners attitude. I totally agree with what Julie said! I am not sure if I want Donald Trump for the next president? I admire what he is trying to accomplish, I am not truly competent that when he gets in office if he can get all the other politicians to fall in line to everything he wants!

    Trust Yourself, Let our Brand Stand for something and stand out for all the reasons doesn’t matter whether right or wrong…the last one is a but hard to swallow lol!
    Very well thought out article Jan I enjoyed it!

  3. Regardless of what people think about Donald it is hard not to pay attention when he is talking! and regardless of anything else he knows how to build businesses and is very smart in that realm. Thank for this post!

  4. Thanks for the information. It’s difficult on this side of the Atlantic to really understand what’s going on, because most things are not known. I admire his career and his frontality.

    1. Even on this side of the Atlantic, he’s hard to understand, but I also admire his career and his lack of a need to be politically correct. I do believe he’s on to something. Thanks for stopping by Nuno!

  5. Hi Jan

    Yeah! I might not like what Trump preaches in his campaign but there is so much to learn from him when it comes to marketing.

    I enjoyed this post as you revealed some cool insight. Thanks for sharing. Take Care

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