No matter whether you voted Hillary or Trump, I think we can all agree on what a mess this election has been. Let’s hope we never get another one like this.
(Quick note for those interested to get it out of the way: I would have voted for the Bern had I had the choice – but this isn’t about me. Moving on:)
From a marketing standpoint I can’t say I’m surprised Trump won. Based solely on who’s more charismatic – Trump or Hillary – the choice was clear.
Trump has a sense of humor, strong opinions… and then there’s the unmistakable haircut. All things that have gotten him into the press over and over again. And as we all know from the Kardashians, presence wins.
Whoever stands out gets noticed. Don’t stand out, don’t get noticed.
Trumps campaign used one particular marketing strategy that’s interesting to songwriters especially: Start with a small group of followers, then expand from there.
Trump started out as a radical: Build a wall here, bomb the shit out of folks there, et cetera.
This got him the unwavering support of a small group of people that knew they had their guy. No one else dared to say what Trump said. His followers weren’t just supporting him, they went completely bonkers.
This went on until he became the Republican nominee. Then, Trump shifted gears. All of a sudden, he stopped talking about building a wall, bombing cities and misogyny. Instead – when he wasn’t attacking his opponent at every chance he got – he turned relatively mild.
His topics turned much less radical. When the “locker room” tapes appeared, everyone was shocked, even though Trump had said misogynist things before (and many times on camera). Without us noticing, Trump had moved into the mainstream.
And today, after months and months of drawing a clear line between Democrats and Republicans we hear him say we must “bind the wounds of division” – yes, those same wounds he (and Hillary) inflicted. Sounds like an entirely different person, huh?
I don’t know about you but to me it seems like all the hatred, all the “off-the-cuff” bullying was part of a well-planned campaign. Now the election is over and Trump quickly fixes what’s broken (namely the Democrat’s trust in the American system) and moves on to becoming a president.
Here’s what to learn from that approach:
You start out radical, serving only a small group of people but making those few (what Seth Godin calls a “Tribe”) salivate when they hear your name.
In the case of Apple this was tech geeks. Linkin Park started out with Nu Metal fans, Justin Bieber started with female teens, J-Lo & Shakira started with Latin, Avril Lavigne started with Emo kids too cool for Britney and Ariana Grande started with RnB for kids.
Then, step by step, they moved into the mainstream. All of the above artists have become what we consider “Pop”. Each still has their own style, but they all slowly moved closer and closer to the center.
As soon as you have a group of followers who excitedly promote you to all of their friends you have a business.
What these people did right is they focused on a few people rather than trying to make a product for everyone. Then they grew from that automatically.
It’s a new way of thinking about songwriting: You don’t start where you want to end up.
Start with a few people and make sure you grow fast. Interact with your core fans (Amanda Palmer, anyone?) and keep them happy.
Seth Godin said it best: “A Product For Everyone Is A Product For No One”.
(This would be a good line to print out and put where you can see it).
There’s a lot more we can learn from Trump, especially on social media. But I’ll keep it short for this post.
QUESTIONS (Answer In The Comments)
Who did you vote for / Who would you have voted for?
Did you vote because you share your nominee’s beliefs or for other reasons?
What tribe are you serving? What do you know about your superfans?
I’m Friedemann Findeisen, a creative weirdo from the middle of nowhere. I love making things, learning things and helping people. If I don’t make, I get restless. If I don’t learn, I feel empty. If I don’t help, I feel ungrateful. Good things have happened when I managed to balance all three.
In the past, I’ve been a magician, public speaker, music video director, songwriter, producer, board game designer, author, publisher, YouTuber, music profiler, illustrator, musician and film composer.