Love or Hate Him, Donald Trump Can Teach You A LOT About Personal Branding
Donald Trump is sure causing a shit storm, and has been since he started his presidential campaign. There are people that love him and there are those that hate him more than anything on this planet. This isn’t a political blog post, so I’m not going to debate whether he is a suitable candidate or a complete jackass. What he does better than almost everyone else, though, is market his brand like a champ.
There is no denying Donald Trump is a smart guy. He has built several multi billion dollar businesses. There are always the haters that will say he filed bankruptcy several times, but guess what? That plays back to the fact that he’s a very intelligent businessman. He took advantage of the laws in place. It’s as simple as that. But, as with any politician, people will always reach for something when they want to bash them.
Not many people ever thought Trump would be leading the polls, let alone for almost the entire time he has been campaigning. His personal brand is to be credited for this, so I wanted to highlight specifics that you can learn from him.
Remember, this is not a debate over whether he is qualified or not, so let’s throw politics aside and just focus on Trump’s master of personal branding. We are a marketing blog not a political blog.. lets keep any personal feelings aside.
This is my analysis on Trump’s branding power!
1. Never back down from your beliefs.
You never see Trump backtrack or go back on what he says or has said in the past. For instance, if I write a guest post for a major SEO blog and people start commenting on it arguing with me I’m not going to jump in the comments and change my opinion. Realize that you will never appeal to everyone. There will always be some people that will disagree and argue just for the sake of causing drama.
There are some people that will argue that the sky isn’t blue just because they want to stir the pot. Ignore them and always stick to your beliefs. They are your beliefs for a reason, and nobody should impact your own views.
Trump has a lot of supporters that would quickly turn on him if he backtracked or took something back. If you think that you will gain more attention, fans, followers, or customers by changing your mind you are wrong. You risk potentially losing the loyal ones that have supported you for a long time. Focus on being consistent. You don’t have to like him, but you have to admit that Trump has been very consistent regarding his views throughout his entire campaign. His loyal supporters love that and he isn’t concerned that he doesn’t have everyone supporting him. He is well aware that he has the majority, which is enough for a win, so he is sticking to his beliefs.
If your people see you as someone that is always changing his or her mind of taking back what you said, you will lose trust and credibility. Stick to your beliefs and don’t be scared of backlash. You almost have to expect it to some degree.
2. Be intriguing so people can’t help but not want to learn more about you.
Do you think Donald Trump is intriguing and interesting? I would say that is safe to say! Why else would every single news and media website talk about him nonstop? They constantly publish Trump content because they know their readers can’t get enough. They know anything with “Trump” in the subject line is going to get read and shared.
Look at websites like Forbes, Inc, and Huffington Post and you will more than likely see a Trump related story on the front main page. Even people who hate him and swear they will never vote for him want to know more. He and his antics intrigue even the people outside of the U.S. He has almost become a sideshow for the entire world to watch.
I mean just take a look at his latest campaign video (released today) below as a prime example of that sideshow:
People can’t help but be intrigued when he’s putting out content and videos like this.
Everyone has something intriguing about himself or herself. Look at the online marketing gurus that have a huge following. Shoemoney’s claim to fame was that he was fat and broke, but then suddenly found success online and became wealth and lost weight. His story was very intriguing to such a large audience. Think of how many people are overweight in this world and then think of how many people are stuck in dead-end jobs making little to no money.
His story made people want to learn more about him, which led to people buying his info products and courses. They also signed up to his email list, where he monetized them even more. So, because he was intriguing, people wanted to learn more and he ended up making money off them.. A LOT OF MONEY. That’s how personal branding works and that is why so many of these guru’s come up with ridiculous stories. “I went from living in a cardboard box with only $2.37 in my bank account, but now I am a millionaire with a model wife.” People eat that shit up all day every day.
3. Confidence is key.
Do you get the impression that Donald Trump is a confident person?
You should, because he has confidence pouring out. He believes that he is the best and that he can’t lose. Many people shit on him for this and call him cocky, but it’s just his personality. He is a born winner. His father was a successful businessman and he was raised to win. Because of that, he doesn’t know any differently.
Now, you don’t have to be born with confidence. It is something you can learn to develop. Little things all add up to create a very confident person. The way you walk, the way you speak to other people, the way you stand, etc. It all plays a role.
Confidence can come across in writing as well. I very rarely meet with SEO clients face to face, as my agency deals with people from all over the world, so I have to exhibit confidence in my writing. When I am writing a guest blog post for a SEO blog, like Ahrefs, I make sure I come across as not only knowledgeable on the topic, but very confident as well.
Someone can quickly determine whether or not you are confident in your abilities just by reading content. So, it doesn’t matter if you are blogging on your website or speaking in front of a national and worldwide audience like Trump, you need to make your confidence shine.
4. Recognition goes a long way.
How many of Trump’s supporters do you think know him only from his time on the TV show Celebrity Apprentice? I would be willing to bet it is a huge number. He more than likely has a huge group of supporters that don’t know a thing about politics, but they sure know a thing or two about prime time television.
I’m not saying this to poke fun at them, as I am being serious. Donald Trump is a very recognizable person. The media has always given him coverage, even before his time on Celebrity Apprentice. His divorces and marriages over the years were always front page news and every business dealing he has been involved with has been covered by the media.
Very few people asked, “Who is this Donald Trump guy?” when the presidential nominees were announced. Everyone knew who he was and knew his story because he was a highly recognizable figure.
Being a familiar name and face in your niche is a big plus. One of the reasons I have been guest blogging on Ahrefs and other SEO blogs is to build my name in the industry. I have made a lot of connections and signed some very large clients because of the recognition I have built. It didn’t happen overnight, but with steady work you can really make your name stand out.
Seek out interview opportunities in your niche and then share any mentions or press you receive on social media. This helps to enforce that you are a recognizable authority.
5. Focus on the present and future, not the past.
Trump’s critics are constantly bringing up the past: past tweets he sent out, past interviews, past statements he has made, etc. He doesn’t let it bother him and he sure doesn’t dwell on it. He often times admits it saying, “Yeah, I said that” and then he moves on. He doesn’t get flustered or skip a beat. He is only focused on the present and future, not the past.
You need to be the same way. We all make mistakes, and part of being a business owner involves taking responsibility, learning from them, and not making the same mistake again in the future. Trump is flawed; he knows it and his competition know it. He is only focused on the ‘right now’ and future.
If Trump started to say that he didn’t mean what he said years ago during a particular media interview or if he denied sending a tweet that was clearly posted from his Twitter account he would look like a liar and that would hurt his brand.
The past is very hard to change, so put all of your branding energy into maintaining a positive brand now and moving forward. If you listen to some of the media attacks on Trump he doesn’t even give them the time of day. He goes right into how he will help the U.S. moving forward.
6. Your message must be consistent.
A strong personal brand is one that is consistent. Let’s look at Trump for a minute. You can’t deny that he has been consistent from the very start. His whole “build a wall” on the Mexican border caused such uproar, but did he back down? Hell no! To this day he is still saying he is going to build that wall. He is as consistent as they come and this has helped build trust with his strongest backers.
Let’s use my content marketing as an example of building a consistent brand message. If you have been reading my stuff since day one you would assume that I am a long term white hat SEO that has always followed Google’s guidelines. The truth is, I got my start in SEO by selling Russian SAPE links, which were once the most black hat links you could buy. I got in early before anyone else thought of it, a simple idea which spawned a 7 figure business that lasted 3 years.
I wasn’t doing content marketing back then though and it wasn’t until I started to blog that I really understood the true power of real content marketing and personal brand building. My content doesn’t bounce all around between black hat and white hat SEO. My message has been very consistent since I started, and I only discuss agency level white hat SEO methods and strategies.
If I started to talk about SEO methods that could potentially harm a website then my credibility goes down the toilet and agencies and marketing departments at large companies wouldn’t feel comfortable hiring me.
A consistent message leaves no doubt as to who you are and what you stand for. This applies to everyone, whether you are an SEO agency owner or campaigning to be the next president of the United States.
7. An army of brand supporters is priceless.
Want to have some really good laughs? Search Google for pictures of Trump supporters. They come out by the bus load all wearing the “Make America Great Again” hats and fully decked out in clothes with American Flag print all over them.
These same people are always re-tweeting him and sharing his social media posts and any video posted online that features an interview. This army of loyal supporters is helping him spread his message and attract new supporters for free. He isn’t paying a dime for this exposure and support, and it’s the best kind.
He could spend millions of dollars on TV ads and they won’t be as effective as someone’s friend sharing a Trump piece of content on social media. The same applies to every business model out there.
When I post my content on social media and people re-tweet or share it they are exposing it to their following. These people are going to trust the content more simply because they were introduced to it by a friend or someone they know.
When you build a loyal group of supporters you are basically creating a marketing arm for your brand that will work hard around the clock. Want to know the best part? You don’t have to pay them a penny. They will work for free.
There are plenty of little things that you can do to help strengthen your army of supporters. If someone shares your content on social media, thank them for doing so. It takes two seconds and that person will really appreciate it and want to share more in the future.
8. Don’t be afraid to be very controversial.
Is Trump crazy, stupid, or brilliant?
That is a huge debate, but it’s no secret that his comment that women who had abortions should be punished in some way caused the Internet to melt down.
People were outraged, while some supported it. It doesn’t matter what side of that fence you’re on, as we are only concerned with the impact it had on his brand. One thing is certain: it caused every single media outlet to talk about him and he was the number one trending topic on every social media website.
I’m not saying that you should start posting about extreme topics to get a rise out of people. But, don’t be afraid to touch on a topic that might be viewed as highly controversial.
A great example in the SEO world would be paid links. Everyone likes to keep it hush, but the truth is that it’s a topic that should be discussed. The same white hat SEO gurus that are telling their audience to create compelling content to earn links are the very same SEOs that are selling and buying links, as well as being involved in huge link schemes.
I’m not afraid to mention this when I talk about link building, and a lot of SEOs comment saying it’s a very controversial topic, which it is, but you can’t be scared of saying it like it is. If you believe in something or if you want to relay information to your audience then do so.
9. Never copy another brand message (create your own identity).
This is something I see almost daily in the SEO industry. A new company pops up out of nowhere and they completely rip off a competitor. Everything from the website design to the packages and service names are copied. I remember one of my previous SEO companies being copied entirely, from the service levels to the actual design.
If you want to stand out you have to be original and be identifiable through your own unique message and angle. I started selling SEO services on SEO and IM forums, and I still do to this day. SerpLogic, my new SEO agency stands out because of the brand we have created and the message we put out there via content marketing, these days the majority of my traffic is the result of content marketing, combined this with well optimized social media advertising and you’re on to a winner.
I make the brand message very clear: only the highest quality SEO. I’m not concerned with pricing, as anyone “price shopping” will notice that what we offer is much more expensive than some of the other available options. But, through our branding, which focuses on stressing the quality, we have not seen any resistance to the price. People know quality when they see it.
When you properly brand yourself, your customers will pay your price.
Trump isn’t riding the beliefs or opinions of any other candidate in the race. He has his own message and he’s sticking to it. He isn’t changing his tune to align with anyone else and place his brand on their level. That would be like us dropping our prices just to be inline with what competitors are selling their SEO service for. We believe in our product, we believe in it’s superior quality, therefore we don’t have to play that game.
10. Establish a strong tagline.
“Make America Great Again”
This tagline is what launched Trump’s campaign, and it did so with a bang. This slogan was printed on hats and not only did Trump wear it everywhere, but famous supporters were photographed wearing the slogan as well.
It went viral and contributed a lot to his early momentum.
When your tagline is solid you don’t need elaborate means to get the message out there. Think about this: Trump exposed the world to his tagline through $1 cheap trucker hats. He probably spent no more than $1 per hat and everyone and their brother wanted to get their hands on one.
No fancy advertising or gimmicks were responsible for the early stage momentum. His message connected with the American population. It’s so simple, yet brilliant at the same time. What U.S. citizens are going to see that tagline and say, “I don’t agree with this message at all. I really don’t want to make American great again.”
While a marketing tactic, a tagline is a way for a potential customer to learn more about your business almost immediately. Look at some taglines that you have certainly heard before:
- Apple: “Think different.”
- Nike: “Just Do It!”
- L’Oréal: “Because You’re Worth It”
- MasterCard: “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”
There are dozens of very popular examples that you can learn from. The goal is to get a potential customer to read it and know exactly what kind of value you provide. A strong tagline can pull interest right away because you piqued the interest of a consumer.
11. Have 100% confidence in your ability.
Anytime you are doing personal branding you need to make sure you come off as 100% confident in what you are talking about. There are many online personalities that just post useless information and they assume that publishing content alone is going to help them establish themselves as authorities in their niche. This is not true, because anyone can post content online. While some of the larger publications like Forbes and Inc are harder to get published on, anyone can quickly make a post on LinkedIn or Medium. There is no process in place to prevent false information or horrible advice from being published online.
You become an authority and people begin to respect and follow you when you not only provide value, but also come across as someone who is completely confident in his or her ability. It doesn’t matter if you are an SEO professional or a personal trainer. You have to sound like you know what you are talking about and you fully believe in what you are preaching.
Trump has gone on the record saying that he will make the U.S. great again. When he says that he will be the best president he doesn’t hesitate and he is, without a doubt, 100% confident in his own ability. I don’t think you will find a single person who will disagree. Sure, some might say he isn’t qualified or he is a major liability for the U.S., but you can’t say that he isn’t a confident presidential candidate. Is there such a thing as too confident? Well, if you begin to sound cocky, then the answer is yes.
12. Figure out how to make social media work for you.
Trump has mastered social media. Let’s take a look at his numbers:
He has a huge audience and if you look at his posts they receive a huge amount of interaction. There is no other candidate that has mastered social media like Trump has.
Well, I would attribute that to the fact he is involved in multiple businesses and has experience in the entertainment industry through the TV show Celebrity Apprentice. He has always been involved in social media and learned a long time ago about how powerful it can be to deliver a message. The other politicians don’t have a grasp on social media the same way Trump does, and it has definitely helped him up to this point.
You can get the same advantage if you master social media, especially in niches that are a little behind the times. I’ll give you a perfect example, and it involves a small business client I did some consulting for several months ago. They are a local florist located in a very large city. They do a large volume of business and wanted to see what could be done to increase that even more. They were already ranking on Google organically for almost every imaginable keyword combo for that city, so we started to look into their social media.
They didn’t do much at all, and neither did their competition. We focused on Instagram since it’s visual, and within a couple of months we could identify a very large revenue spike, because we used a special tracking link and discount code. When you master social media and are noticeably more present than your competition you can quickly dominate a niche.
13. Focus on the audience that matters the most (you will never appeal to everyone).
When you are building your brand it’s important to understand you will receive backlash from a group of people. It’s impossible to have everyone like you. It’s just a very unrealistic expectation. Think about sports for a minute. Is there a team that everyone likes? No, of course not. There are always going to be fans of the opposition that will hate the competition, even without a valid reason.
Trump does a great job of blocking out the hate and negativity. He doesn’t even address it. He lets it roll right off him while continuing to play to his crowd, telling them why he is the greatest. They are the audience that matters. They are the ones that are supporting him and will influence others, and eventually go to the polls and vote for him.
I experience backlash as well. There are hardcore black hat SEOs that say content marketing is a waste of time and they believe in old school rank and bank strategies. They work still however short lived, I don’t debate that, but I have switched my personal focus and that of my agency to a more white hat approach. I don’t argue or get involved in worthless debates. I focus on continuing to create content for my target audience.
Every business owner wants to think that his or her product is the best and that everyone should love it. Every niche has supporters and opposition. Even in a niche like running shoes; there will be those that like Nike and those that like Adidas. There is no use fighting it, just focus on appealing to those that are willing and ready to listen to your brand message.
14. Never apologize for your actions or beliefs.
I’ve mentioned multiple times that your personal brand can come under fire from a variety of sources. Organizations, other businesses, individuals, etc.; nobody is entirely safe.
Trump has thick skin and can take the verbal beatings the media throws at him daily. You can’t go online without seeing an anti Trump article. This is something I’m sure he learned to deal with throughout his many years in the business world.
It took me some time to get used to it, but I am finally to the point where I know my personal brand is growing at a nice rate because of what I am doing. When I started guest blogging I noticed that no matter what I wrote there was always a troll or two to debate it or try to discredit my views. It pissed me off at first, but I quickly learned that it comes with the territory. As soon as you put your personal brand out there you basically surrender your privacy.
When I wrote a guest post and someone doesn’t agree with me I never apologize for my views. I might debate a bit, but I never take back what I said or feel bad for it. Part of building an authentic personal brand involves sticking to your beliefs. You will attract a much stronger following of supporters if you remain true to yourself.
15. Leverage every single piece of PR you can.
All press is good press. If the media is talking about you that means you are making such an impact that they can’t avoid NOT writing about you.
I can promise you that there has been a story involving Donald Trump on every major media website since the day he announced he was running for president. They can’t help but write about him. Even if they are writing a story that bashes him, “Trump” is still in the headlines.
He will often re-tweet negative news stories and poke fun at them. He eats up every bit of PR he receives, because he knows, good or bad, that it’s helping to keep his name on everyone’s mind.
If you (or your business) is mentioned by the media you need to leverage it by sharing it on social media, blasting it out to your email list, and using it to attract additional PR. You have to start small and not expect a lot of attention at first. I’ve been mentioned in some large websites, but it all started with posting my content on my blog, and from there I’ve leveraged each PR mention into more exposure. Start small and take advantage of every opportunity to continue to build momentum.
It should be very clear now that Trump is a branding expert. He didn’t build an empire by luck or chance. He continued to leverage his personal brand to build more companies and then eventually turned his brand into a front runner for the republican presidential nomination. Will he receive it? Who knows, and that isn’t what this article is about.
What I do know is Trump is a great example of how a strong personal brand can help you be more successful. I have used guest blogging and media exposure to help build my own personal brand and I can tell you from first hand experience that it works very well. It opens more doors and it helps to attract customers, because they feel connected to a person and not just a business.
If you have any questions or comments, drop them below. I will do my best to reply to you. Remember, no political arguments. Let’s keep the focus on what this blog post is about: brand building.