It’s not often politics and marketing go hand in hand, but there are actually a few things that marketers can learn (or in some cases, remember) from how Donald Trump has transitioned from property development to presidential politics.
The initial few months can be a key period for anybody who is embarking on a new role of new project. As an agency, we have guided a number of digital marketers through their first 100 days in a new position (in fact we've just published a whitepaper to guide you step-by-step through the process) and the key challenges appear again and again – ensuring that the right resources are in place in the right areas, ensuring that strategies and processes are sound and ensuring that communication is coherent and consistent.
Unfortunately, ‘The Donald’ didn’t consult us for his opening few months on the job but, just in case he’s reading, he might want to consider these key lessons that marketers can also apply to their first 100 days.
Get the right team around you
For the majority of us, trying to deploy your marketing strategy single-handedly just isn’t an option. You’re going to have to build a team around you to help you deliver your aims and objectives.
One of the key challenges that the 45th Commander in Chief has encountered over his first 100 days is building that very team. Even as of April 2017, more than 100 desks at the State Department remain vacant, whilst several top officials left of their own volition.
His son-in-law Jared Kushner, a man with no political experience, has been tasked with (amongst other things) the not insignificant tasks of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and building the US’s relationship with Mexico, China and Canada. Tough gig.
For any leader to be successful, he or she needs the right people around them and that sentiment is true whether you’re leader of the free world, or leading your brand’s marketing strategy. Look at your objectives and your strategy, and clearly understand the skills and resources that you are going to lean on to deliver that. Make the right appointments, and ensure that they are all working on the same page.
Align the right stakeholders
In a similar vein, you need to ensure that those with a stake in what you are trying to achieve are fully aligned with what you are trying to do, and how you go about it.
Trump burst into the political scene promising to “drain the swamp” – to remove the shackles of political bureaucracy and corruption – but has instead been stonewalled by a series of challenges to his headline policies.
His controversial travel ban has been challenged by judges in a number of states, whilst his own party has failed to find a consensus on a key healthcare policy.
Simply believing that you can steamroller your ideas through simply isn’t sustainable. You are going to be challenged, you are going to find people who disagree with your position, and it is important that you acknowledge, convince and compromise with those important stakeholders.
Keep your message on point
Trump’s campaign and his first 100 days has been marred by a litany of media gaffes and inconsistencies that up to now, he has simply dismissed or deflected in one form or another by changing the subject matter, or gaslighting those that challenge his narrative.
However, it is important to ensure that all of your communications, whether internal or external, are consistent, clear and factual.
If you’re not being honest, open and clear, you are going to get found out at some point so ensure that you are putting out a consistent narrative around what you are doing and how your activities are performing, and ensure that those around you are also on message. You are going to come under scrutiny at various points – ensure that you have the right narrative to address that scrutiny.
Don’t alienate your key partners
In the same way that you need a strong relationship with your team and your stakeholders, you need a strong relationship with the third-party partners that you will use to support your strategy.
So what has The Donald shown us in this regard? Well, don’t throw a close ally under the bus when you’re trying to deflect questions. The case in point this time being his claim that GCHQ was the guilty party in his phone-tapping allegations. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t the sort of comment that enhanced Anglo-American relations when it was described as “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous” by British intelligence officials.
Part of your job as a marketer is to build some very important, often complex, relationships with third parties and, on occasion, those relationships are going to show signs of strain. Ensure that these relationships remain strong, and don’t resort to finger-pointing.
Don’t underestimate the challenge
Trump himself has said that he “underestimated” the scale of difficulty that occupying White House and all that comes with it. How much of that statement is yet another brand of Trump-esque self-aggrandisement is up for debate, but it does highlight that even the most confident individual is going to come up against the unexpected.
When embarking on any new role or new project, the first 100 days is a key period in which you need to get the ball rolling on your strategy and make the right impression. That impression may not be as ‘remarkable’ as Mr President’s over this past 100 days or so, but at least make sure that it’s a good one.