It’s November 9th, 2016 and the world seems to be in a state of disbelief. Donald Trump is the President Elect. Pollsters, pundits, and betting odds were against Trump which led to a stunning evening. We will spend decades studying the events and that led to this historic day. We won’t be getting into that now, however. This article isn’t written to be political but rather to explore how Trump’s simple message resonated with Americans.
In politics or business, it’s important to tell a story, which Donald Trump has successfully done. He followed the basic outline for storytelling. Here’s how:
He had a clear and simple message “make America great again.” That can mean anything depending on who you are so it spoke to a very large, broad audience. Let’s also explore his language. Some outlets have said his speeches are just below a 6th-grade grammar level while other candidates were speaking at 8-9th-grade levels. This isn’t to say that his voters were less educated but that the message was easier to understand. Our brains run from confusing language and look for shortcuts. So a clear simple message is always more likely to resonate with an audience.
Identify the Problem to Overcome
Trump took his clear message and spoke to the conflict voters were feeling. Americans felt unsatisfied with politics and he gave them a vision. He positioned himself as a “non-politician” and consistently drove home a message of change with memorable soundbites like “drain the swamp.”
Make the Voter the Hero
After he laid the groundwork, he painted a grand future for the country. Negotiating better trade deals, bringing back jobs, and improving immigration control among other things. He claimed these changes will help Americans retake their country and secure their future. This is what other candidates lacked this year and why Trump may have outperformed estimates. The message is also simple enough for it to be amorphous. No matter what he said it could be ultimately attributed to the message of winning or making America great again.
Ultimately, we don’t know what caused the outcome of this election but as marketers, we’re impressed with Trump’s ability to communicate in a way that’s easily understood. Check out Donald Miller’s video on Trump’s campaign messaging. It explores this idea in more depth. Also, read more on storytelling in marketing.