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What Donald Trump's presidential campaign can teach advisers about marketing

Here's what you can take from Mr. Trump that will help you establish a brand for your business and name

Apr 19, 2016 @ 12:01 am

By Shawn Sparks

+ Zoom

Whether you're flipping through channels on your television, scrolling through social media or conversing with virtually anyone over the age of 16, there's a good chance that Donald Trump is going to become the subject of discussion. The man has captured the attention of the entire world during his recent race for presidency, and while his rallies dwell on how he plans to “Make America Great Again,” there is certainly more to Mr. Trump's campaign than meets the eye. Regardless of whether you love him or hate him, Mr. Trump is giving us a front row seat to one of the greatest marketing campaigns the world has ever seen.

Best-selling author Seth Godin once wrote that “marketing is a contest for people's attention.” If this is true then Mr. Trump certainly seems to be winning the contest. According to Google trend search data, “Donald Trump” is being searched more times than “Apple,” “Coca-Cola,” “McDonalds,” and “Star Wars” combined. The data shows his popularity has increased more than 100 times since the day he announced he was running for president. Mr. Trump is not running for president just to establish his brand, but if he were, it's definitely working. “The Donald” literally has the eyes of the world upon him, and what's most astounding is this level of attention (which would cost billions of dollars in traditional marketing) is costing Mr. Trump close to nothing!

If there's one thing that we can learn from Mr. Trump, it's branding. His real estate holdings, his television show, his airplanes, his university and now his run for presidency have all taken the Trump brand to a mega-celebrity status. And since the bigger the brand is, the bigger the business is, it's no wonder he's a billionaire.

So, as a financial adviser in a world that's loaded with competition, what lessons can you take from Mr. Trump that will help you establish a brand for your own business and name, while at the same time maintaining your authenticity? Here are a few key tips.

BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU DO

Mr. Trump's sustained momentum and popularity would not be possible if he did not sincerely believe in what he was doing. You can only fake it for so long before you are exposed or lose heart. Mr. Trump really does believe he can make America great again, and that belief is fueling his energy and excitement. As an adviser, working day in and day out to create leads, providing customer service for your clients and dealing with failure each and every day can wear you out. But if you believe you can make a difference for the people you serve, that belief will keep you going. Sales ideas and marketing aside, if you don't believe in what you have to offer, you won't be successful long term.

KNOW YOURSELF AND WHO YOU'RE MARKETING TO

If it seems like Mr. Trump doesn't care whether he offends someone, it's because he probably doesn't. On a public stage it's extremely hard to turn someone on without turning someone else off. What he is doing is directing his messages to a very select group of individuals — and you should, too, when marketing yourself and your business. Don't get sucked into trying to fit everyone's needs or trying to be all things to all people. Know who you are, what you can offer and who you are able to best help. Then speak directly to your target market in everything you do. Your message should not only attract all the right people, it should repel all the wrong people. This strategy will make your business more fun as you attract the right people, more profitable as you waste less time on the wrong people and more reputable among clients as you boost the satisfaction rate. Just like with Donald Trump, what clients see is what they get, and they don't get any apologies.

GET MAXIMUM EXPOSURE

Mr. Trump knows how to play the media, and if you do, too, you can create a healthy amount of buzz for your business. This begins by letting your local and national press know you exist.

There are a number of ways to accomplish this. You can create news in your area of expertise by providing articles for newspapers and magazines, writing an online blog and/or hosting a radio show. Conduct small marketing experiments and then measure the results. What is hitting the broadest audience for the best price? When you hit a winning formula, repeat the process on a grand scale.

Remember, exposure creates buzz and buzz in turn will create attention. Don't let your business be the best kept secret in town. Mr. Trump certainly wouldn't!

Shawn Sparks is vice president of adviser development at Advisors Excel. He writes about the career lessons he has learned on his weekly blog, 52 Sparks.

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