Lessons from The Donald


Donald Trump is closer to the White House than even our wildest imaginations deemed possible just a year ago. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has managed to cut a wide swath through the political terrain to land the top spot in the Republican Party.

He has quickly become a wildly influential figure in American politics, and it’s no accident. Trump is simply a master of communication. Here are some of his strategies that work on the campaign trail, the boardroom, or on the shop floor:

Keep it Simple Stupid!

It’s well known that Trump uses simple vocabulary to communicate his ideas. Just how simple you ask? Trump’s vocabulary and grammar has been pegged at about a 6th grade level, based on a study from Carnegie Mellon. This is in contrast to his Republican opponents who spoke at about a high school level in their debates and speeches. But guess what, they all lost to Trump.

Trump’s simple messaging allows him to be completely understood by the entire American electorate, potentially boosting his reach and popularity. With Trump, there are no misunderstandings, you know where he is coming from and where he stands.

This tactic is very useful in a business context, as it’s crucial to be understood by colleagues and customers. While you may prefer to Trump up your vocab a little, it is never a good idea to over-complicate your ideas.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

It’s been suggested that Trump loves hearing himself talk. Build the wall! Make America Great Again! Believe me! Trump repeats himself because it works. We are far more likely to remember and identify with a message the more we are exposed to it. While it may be annoying, it works on voters and it works on customers too. It is a tried and true marketing pillar and it’s not going away anytime soon.

Several applications are possible here. Don’t change your slogan too soon. Give it a chance to sink in with customers. When negotiating with clients, repeat your key value offerings enough times that they are fully understood. They will only remember a small percentage of your message anyway, so make sure they remember the parts that count.

Social Proof

Trump is a master of creating both real and artificial social proof in order to establish trust with voters. We often hear him say things like “people say I have great stamina”, or “so-and-so loves my economic plan.” The identities of these people are not clear but Trump says this to give the impression that his ideas are widely accepted, even if they aren’t.

We can use this strategy when it comes to promoting a product. If your product has been approved by a major vendor, let customers know. If it was well reviewed by an important figure in your industry, put it on your website. This helps to establish social proof which gives your brand credibility.

Know Your Audience

Trump understands his base and speaks to them in a no nonsense manner. While most politicians hate giving direct answers, or fear being politically incorrect, Trump says whatever is on his mind and his supporters love him for it. He has no filter and is seen as genuine and real, especially compared to the perception of a “traditional” politician.

Knowing your audience is crucial when negotiating deals. If your customer is a down to business type of person, cut the chit chat and get to work. If they are more social and laid-back, mirror their tone in order to build rapport.

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