The American election has been and gone.
At time of writing this, Joe Biden is President Elect with a five million votes lead over current President Trump, and with a substantial Electoral College seat margin and legal challenges aside, Trump can’t catch him.
Currently Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are receiving all of the credit for the victory. Much like in 2016, when initially Donald Trump received all of the credit for the victory. Later however, as the victory laps subsided, we started hearing about some of the clever marketing from some of the marketing geniuses.
People such as Brad Parscale, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner and so on, started to receive acknowledgement for the unexpected, upset victory.
I imagine over time, the accolades for people behind the Biden victory will also be promoted and that point we will start to learn about what took place in the planning and implementation stages which led to the victory.
But until that occurs, an event like a US election is such an important event, that it is beholden upon any professional in marketing, sales and entrepreneurship to dedicate some deep thought as to what occurred and how this may be utilised or avoided in our own situations. In fact, I believe the US election is the biggest game on earth and if you are serious about building a business then this is the game to analyse and critique.
Now if you had to beat Donald Trump, how would you go about doing it?
Even more so, if you had to beat Donald Trump during a pandemic, in which Donald Trump obviously mismanaged, how would you go about getting a victory?
In my analysis, I believe that the most obvious strategy, the thing to do was actually quite simple. It need not involve a lot of marketing magic and or trickery. It is not anything revolutionary nor a master strategy. I actually think it was fairly obvious, and the Biden camp nailed it with “spades”
They chose to run against Trump on one thing and one thing alone, and that was character.
Sometimes in marketing, the simplest things are often the most effective.
It reminds me of the scene in the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie, when Harrison Ford meets up face to face with this knife wielding bad guy. The bad guy is putting on a performance, whipping the knife around swishing it, twirling it and Harrison Ford reaches down, grabs his gun and goes bang, shoots him dead. The obvious thing to do. It doesn’t matter how good you are with your knife; you are not beating a gun if the guy knows how to use it and he’s within close proximity.
I think it was similar with the Biden campaign strategy. Biden went obvious, Biden went simple, and Biden stayed focused on character. Whilst Trump, seemed a bit everywhere. No doubt Trump expended enormous energy and that probably got him the 70 odd million votes. By and large, Trump’s campaign seemed to be focusing a lot more on the magic tricks. Brad Parscale was back doing his Facebook stuff. Bannon was targeting right wingers in the media. Trump himself was reaching for his playbook move, which he has used so effectively just about his entire adult life, which is to start abusing people and picking fights. Prior to Hillary it was Rosie O’Donnell and that got him heaps of free publicity and a platform. This time it was anybody he could besmirch, even the legendary Dr Anthony Fauci.
Along with this Trump strategically defiled convention by using the podium in the White House to straight up electioneer. Trump labelled China the enemy, Antifa the enemy, the Democrats the enemy. Trump had innocent people pushed aside for a photo opportunity with a Bible. And of course, there was the alleged attempt to obtain a dirt file from the Ukrainian president on his opponent. Then there were the nicknames. Shifty Schiff, Nasty Nancy and Sleepy Joe, and on and on it went. But all of this simply played into the Biden campaign of character over everything.
Trump’s most effective tool was his rally’s. Rallies are a demonstration of power. Demonstrating a strong following and giving him a platform to beat up on the media, and the other enemies, in particular “Sleepy Joe”.
Hats off to Trump he is great at delivering rallies and one could sense the momentum building as he chalked up rally after rally after rally often 3 a day criss-crossing the country.
Meanwhile, Biden simply focused on character.
To demonstrate this, he listened to folks. He was guided and guarded that there “is a virus out there”, I can’t be seen running all over America, organising big virus spreading events. Maybe truth be known he didn’t do these because he knew his events wouldn’t look anything like Trump’s events.
Biden stuck to all things character. All the while using the threat of the virus and mobilizing people to vote by mail as it would be a “lot safer”. Joe Biden identified that because it was dangerous out there, he would do the character thing and stay as much as possible in his bunker and exhibit ultra-social distancing. He wore masks, he provided safe messaging and he did not miss a chance to outline how poorly it was being handled by his opponent. Biden symbolised a person of integrity, a person of character, and as a consequence I am the person to vote for, safely and by mail.
He also demonstrated his character in his interactions. He offered help and a platform the child with the stutter, he comforted children who had lost a parent, he comforted the mother whose son was fighting in Iraq, and so on and so forth. I am not saying any of this was false, but he was choosing to amplify these messages, as you do in marketing, all aimed to amplify the trait of character – the perceived weakness of his opponent.
Biden’s appointment of Kamala Harris was another demonstration of his character. The fact that he could turn the other cheek to someone who actually mauled him during the primaries, the fact that he had the vision to bring a woman into the White House, the first ever. The fact he had the vision to have it be a woman of colour, to be the first woman of colour in a position in the White House as vice president. more indications of character.
During all of this, Trump simply continued to rally. Even though he does these unbelievably well, by and large rallies were more a thing for 2016 and not a COVID plagued 2020.
At his rallies Trump was imploring people to give up your midweek Election Day to stand at a polling booth for four to five hours, and to subject yourself to the risk of getting coronavirus. That folk’s is a tough sell. On the other hand, Biden went, “no, don’t do that to yourselves”, and what is more “you may even get bullied by Trump people”. So, don’t do it, mail in your vote instead.
And the people did, and they voted early as we now know.
Having garnered 70 odd million votes, Trump still generated a solid following and in fact this is why he feels defeat so incredulously, because he knew his rallies were magnificent. And he would have left every one of those rallies thinking, man, I’ve got this thing in the bag.
So, a US election can be just like a business, often in business, the solution can be obvious. There is never a need to make things overly difficult.
I have been guilty of this myself, plenty of times in fact.
I have tried to prove to clients that I know my stuff, and in doing so created overly elaborate and difficult sales funnels and the like. Sometimes there is a place for these, but more times than not when I’ve been introduced to a company, business or a situation where they have a marketing issue, generally the answer involves slowing down, taking stock of what’s going on, and finding one, two, or maybe three things that are somewhat out of kilter. This approach often fixes the problem outright.
No need to make it too hard. It can be a lot easier than you think.