Donald Trump persuaded people to vote for him.
The many people appalled by Donald Trump have a hard time accepting that he actually got people to vote for him.
That is dangerous because it causes them to resist learning the lessons that are available to them. It couldn't be Trump, they think. It must be something else. They blame Hillary, Comey, the e-mails, Fox News, the Russians, identity politics, Obama's failure to sell the fact of economic recovery--all of which were, of course, factors. What they have a hard time admitting is that Trump did something right.
After all, they think he is a narcissistic, habitual-lying, lecherous demagogue. How could he possibly be right about things, when he is so wrong about things? But another way to look at the Trump electoral victory is that Trump won notwithstanding him being exposed to opponents and friends alike as a narcissistic, habitual-lying, lecherous demagogue.
How did that happen? That is what this blog attempts to observe and understand.
Tony Farrell is one of this blog's readers. He is a former college classmate, a graduate of the Harvard Business School, and a man with a long career as a top marketing executive. He visited with me in Medford and standing in my melon field told me that he saw the Trump victory coming.
He said Trump understood direct marketing and Hillary did not. Tony should know. He had a high powered 30 year career in retailing and direct marketing through catalogs, online, and TV infomercials. He led marketing for the Gap, Banana Republic, Sharper Image, the Nature Company, and others. Readers have seen his informercials and very likely bought something. Here is a link to his Linkedin profile: Click here
He is retired now, and has been observing Trump do exactly what he would advise and direct for any direct marketing client. Trump is a master of the infomercial.
A campaign is a year-long infomercial. People bought the product he sold.
Guest Post by Tony Farrell:
Understanding Trump’s appeal is best viewed through the hard-won wisdom of direct marketers. In many realms of advertising, results are pretty soft and imprecise; but not in direct marketing. Direct marketers, essentially, do not care what their target audience knows, thinks, feels or remembers; they only care about what they do—which can be many things but usually it is sales. And by measuring sales, the effectiveness of advertising can, at last, be measured with a great deal of precision. So, what has that experienced taught those marketing professionals?
The first thing—most clearly voiced by advertising legend David Ogilvy—is “to make no small promises.” Instead, promise a life-changing experience; a miraculous result. People are too busy to pay much attention to anything else you might be selling.
Second, a favorite aphorism in the TV infomercial world about prospective customers is that “They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” That is, the first step is to convey empathy and understanding for your prospect’s plight; only later will the prospect be receptive to explanations of how you can deliver on your promise.
One renowned direct-response copywriter lays out what it takes to be an influential leader. His learnings are not cynical but simply reflective of what has worked and not worked over the decades. Think about Trump (and contrast with Hillary) as you read his priceless wisdom:
· Whatever you’re selling, declare it to be IMPORTANT and LIFE CHANGING.
· Influential writing is NOT about doing a better job of explaining things. It’s about SIMPLIFYING things.
· You’re NOT going for understanding; you’re aiming for ACCEPTANCE.
· The greatest INFLUENCE comes from CERTAINTY; from CONCRETENESS; from black-and-white positions.
· Above all, people want SIMPLE CERTAINTIES. They do NOT want complex answers to complex problems. They want SIMPLE ANSWERS to complex problems. They want answers that are VERY CERTAIN and VERY DEFINITIVE.
· People want things to believe in. People do NOT want information. They do NOT want to be smarter. They want FAITH.
· You do NOT influence people with information (that’s informing). You do NOT influence with education (that’s educating). People do NOT want information. Rather, they want FAITH.
· Mount Olympus is a gated community. Any reluctance to declare yourself a god, and to constantly remind everyone of your exalted status, prohibits residence on Mount Olympus.
· People want to be told what to do. Period.
· Do NOT attempt to change minds, convert the ignorant, resistant, disagreeing people—that’s a fool’s errand. Say things to people that REINFORCE and VALIDATE what they already believe. Communicating to influence is about REINFORCEMENT and VALIDATION far more than it is PERSUASION.
And finally, think about Trump’s language, and contrast it to Hillary’s. Trump’s approach is in line with the advice of legendary copywriter John Caples:
Choose Simple Words!
Educated readers understand short words just as well as long words, but the masses understand short words much better. Even where it is necessary to substitute three or four short words for one long word, it is usually wise to do so.
When people are just talking, back and forth, they still use the old Anglo-Saxon almost entirely…. The reason we use short words to talk with is that they mean exactly the same thing to the talker and the hearer…. For the same reason, we use short words to think with.
So, in my own thinking about how Trump managed to beat Hillary, and looking through my direct-marketing lens, I suggest that Trump did everything exactly right and Hillary the opposite: She failed to convey empathy; she was unconvincing with her promises; she offered complex answers to complex problems; and she used language that was often difficult to understand.
This election was about winning the election; Hillary thought it was about governing.