LAJ ARTICLES

Marketing. New Entrant v Incumbent. Trump v Clinton

marketing 37

This post isn’t about politics. It’s about Startups battling an incumbent, the market leader.
Political campaigns are constructed as collapsible corporations, in startup jargon they are short-lived unicorns. This is the start of a post-mortem, we’ll break the campaigns and apparatuses into small pieces, examine what happened, why and consider alternatives.
I have been involved in politics for a long time. In Presidential races I vote one way or the other but I try to preserve myself as a disembodied intellect. Not a participant, just a spectator.
Through-out the election, until mid September, I had regular social visits with both campaigns
Most ball games are lost, not won. – Casey Stengel
Hillary Clinton is the incumbent. She has all the advantages of the market leader.
Companies are big complex living things. Allocating resources is opportunistic. Persuasive employees are always presenting their cases for more company assets of one type or another. The most ambitious come armed with spreadsheets. Being the CEO requires the discipline to listen and still say no.
Marketing is a department that can never be measured precisely, some part of their success, or failure, is anecdotal. It doesn’t correspond immediately to revenue and so part of the job description of the marketing department head is to reach into every success within the business and claim partial credit. None of this is to say that marketing doesn’t have a significant value, it does, it is only my observation that department and all its desks are always trying to invent, and reinvent, to fortify itself. Marketing is always insecure.
Donald Trump is the new entrant. The company is not profitable and is being self funded by the founder, friends and family. It is sans Venture Capital.
The incumbent only has to preserve its distance from the competition. The new entrant has to jump all the high hurdles. To win the new entrant has to emphasize intimacy, ‘We Know You and They Don’t’. Intimacy is a premium product, people will pay much more for that extra few minutes, that assurance that their phone calls will be answered and followed up on.
On a grand scale it is difficult to broadcast intimacy. In a political rally the signage is the visual aid. It is the equivalent of a one slide power point in a business meeting.
The marketing collateral created by the incumbent could not find a convening force. It searched for one. It didn’t know its customers well and focused on graphics and composition.
Keep marketing simple and emphasize intimacy. High tech is great but it rarely commands a premium. Intimacy sells, Staff it. Charge more for it.
An overly large marketing team disadvantaged the incumbent by generating an excess of incoherent collateral. They pushed their marketing into the wild and asked the prospects to define it. #ReadyForHillary #ImWithHer #StrongerTogether are not persuasive.
The new entrant kept a consistent brand and pushed out their marketing as a ‘wearable convening force’. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain is persuasive
Going back into the political campaign… When the Clinton campaign tried to lever themselves by calling half of the Trump supporters ‘Deplorables’ they gave the Trump campaign the last bit of branding they needed. Trump supporters began to self identify as ‘Deplorable’ and it became its own cohesive force and rallying cry. Now, shifting back into startup gears, this is the precise mechanism that is used to create and launch raving fans. They self identify, they become the evangelists. They are your commercials

Leave a Reply