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How To Market In The Age Of Trump

How do we approach marketing in this political climate?

It's a question I've repeatedly been asked over the past few weeks. I have some ideas. But first a disclaimer. 

I want to be very clear: High emotions around current events mean that all marketing, while reasonable sounding on paper, may be misinterpreted or offensive to some. 

So it goes. We can only do our best and correct course if the yogurt hits the fan. 

Here are some ideas to help with your marketing strategy during these historically turbulent times. 

Accept The New Normal

We are a nation divided by ideology for the foreseeable future. It is not what most of us want, but it is the world in which we live. Start there with all of your marketing plans. 

A good marketer sees the positive. A great marketer understands the entire picture.

Create A Response Team

In the movie World War Z, a Mossad agent explains to Brad Pitt’s character why Israel was far more prepared for a zombie outbreak than the rest of the world. He was the 10th Man.

"If nine of us get the same information and arrive at the same conclusion, it's the duty of the tenth man to disagree. No matter how improbable it may seem the tenth man has to start digging with the assumption the other nine are wrong." 

You don't have to spend much time on it. Just a few minutes over a cup of coffee. The key is to be relentless in building your worst case scenario. Imagine the worst misinterpretation of your campaign that you can.

Then agree on a response and plan of action. If it happens, you can quickly fill in details. It probably won't, but you will save a lot of time and worry if it does.

Take A Position 

It's a gutsy move for a business to openly take a political stance. But if you focus on your like-minded tribe, it can be successful.

Rachelle Hruska MacPherson is the founder of Lingua Franca, maker of a high-end fashion line of embroidered cashmere sweaters.

With the election of Trump she saw an opportunity to produce custom-made orders with slogans like “We Are All Immigrants,” “Resist,” and “I Didn’t Vote For Him.”

As more of her customers chose to wear their frustrations on their sleeves, the new sweaters quickly sold out, and a new fashion line was born.

Remain Neutral 

During the election, several companies ran decidedly non-partisan marketing campaigns, letting customers declare their political allegiance.

7-Eleven has a long-running election year campaign featuring red and blue coffee cups they call 7-Election. The tagline: "Grab your steaming hot cup of democracy." During presidential election campaigns, the results were tallied daily on the 7-Eleven website. 

Heaven Hill Distilleries created Red State Bourbon and Blue State Bourbon, launching two separate Facebook pages in support of each position and donating $1 to Veterans of Foreign Wars for every 'like' on both. 

These examples show you can remain neutral and still encourage a high degree of participation. 

Give Us Distractions

Experience Marketing, in which customers get lost in a unique event, is powerful, especially if it allows customers to temporarily escape the political news cycle.

After discovering a Facebook page called "I want a sleepover at IKEA," the company invited 100 lucky customers to spend the night in one of their stores.

Guests were given goodie bags with eye masks and slippers, massages and a bedtime story read by a reality TV star.

One More Thing

Whichever marketing strategy you choose, remember to protect your brand. Don't water down who you are and what you stand for to chase an audience. Standing out builds loyalty. And these days loyalty is priceless.


Keith Monaghan