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#003: Trump Decoded

Love him or hate him no other politician in our lifetime has created more press, more lovers and more haters than Donald J Trump.  Learn the 7 communication strategies that he used to create his tribe and how you can use this to build yours.

David Young:

Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I’m Stephen’s sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today’s episode, a word from our sponsor, which is…. Well it’s us. But we’re highlighting ads we’ve written and produced for our clients. So here’s one of those.

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David Young:

Stephen Semple, my understanding is that we’re going to take a little departure again this time, right? I guess it’s an empire. I guess it’s empire building. You wanted to talk about a different kind of empire, this is not a retail empire.

Stephen Semple:

It’s not a retail empire, it’s not a business empire, but it’s still interesting. So we’re going to talk… And I have to start off with a caveat here because a lot of people love this guy, a lot of people hate this guy. I hate this guy, but I still think he’s worth studying because the impact he’s had, and that’s Donald J. Trump.

David Young:

There you go.

Stephen Semple:

Because let’s face it, there has not been another politician in our lifetime that has had the impact and the attention worldwide politically, or who has the degree of… And granted that’s not the majority of the American population, but it’s certainly a significant portion of the population who are unbelievably loyal to him. And whether you think he’s truthful or whether you think he’s a liar, whether you love him or you hate him, doesn’t matter, we need to study him. I need to put it out there, this is not coming from a place of I love Trump.

David Young:

This is not an admiration episode. This is a let’s deconstruct it, figure out are there some things that he did that helped build this personal brand? I guess that’s one way. I don’t even know that I would-

Stephen Semple:

Let’s just call it ratings. Let’s call it ratings.

David Young:

I wouldn’t even think of his business empire as an empire that we would ever talk about, right?

Stephen Semple:

No.

David Young:

Not absent his name.

Stephen Semple:

Right. But the point is he’s had a communication strategy that we’re going to decode that has created raving fans and mass loyalty on a huge basis. And that is worth understanding.

David Young:

All right, you got my attention.

Stephen Semple:

Okay. So there’s basically seven things. If you take a look there’s seven things that he has done unbelievably well to make all of this happen. And I’m going to put them in marketing terms and then we’ll look at what he’s actually done. So the first one of marketing terms, and many of them are things that we talked to customers about for years, which is speak to the customer in the language of the customer. Always remember when you’re creating ads, don’t use ad speak. If the customer has this weird way of referring to things-

David Young:

Use that.

Stephen Semple:

… use that. Now in the case of Donald Trump in the political world, it would be don’t sound like a politician. Well, Trump doesn’t sound like a politician when he’s talking. He really doesn’t. When he speaks it really does feel like he’s speaking to you one-on-one. It feels like it’s a type of thing you could be sitting across the table having a coffee with him.

David Young:

He defends a lot of it by saying it’s just locker room talk.

Stephen Semple:

He does.

David Young:

That’s exactly what it feels like, right? It doesn’t make it necessarily right, but that’s an accurate description.

Stephen Semple:

Speaking to the customer in the language of the customer, right? Because that’s first thing he does. The second thing he does is he makes the message very emotional. And, again, we’ve often talked about how emotion has all of these powerful connections to it. We like to use positive emotions in our advertising, and he uses very heavy negative emotions, but it’s still emotions. But he speak the customer in the language of the customer using powerful emotions to build those connections. So those are the first two things he does.

Stephen Semple:

The third thing he does is he speaks to the customer about what matters to the customer? So he speaks to his base about what’s important to his base. When he’s in Virginia, he talks about coal mines. When he’s in Arizona, he talks about illegal Mexican immigrants, but he speaks to them about what matters to them. So he does it emotionally and in their language. Here’s the fourth thing he does… Those other three are easy. Here’s where he’s the master at, repetition. Oh, man, the dude owns repetition, over and over. [inaudible 00:04:51] my head against a brick wall over again. He controls the dialogue. The media is always talking about him. The public is always talking about him. He’s always, always, always being talked about. That is repetition. And repetition is the key to connection and the key to memorability.

David Young:

Repetition and just the guy owned the news cycle, right?

Stephen Semple:

Owned it. But not just the news cycle, also day-to-day conversations. And look, there’s also been a bunch of studies that repetition actually leads to trust, oddly enough. But the point is repetition he owned. Owned it, owned it, owned it. Now the other thing he did was also share of voice. Now repetition is how often it’s been spoken about, share of voice is how far it’s been talked about. And he was talked about relentlessly everywhere, the press, Twitter, the water cooler, owned it, owned repetition-

David Young:

You couldn’t hide from him.

Stephen Semple:

You could not hide from him. So these are things that we often talk about in marketing: speak customer language to customer, make your messages emotional, talk to what’s important to them, lots of repetition, lots of share of voice, be heard far more than others. But here’s an interesting one that he did that is the real unusual secret sauce trick. And that is unusual descriptions also have a lot of power.

David Young:

Okay. Give me an example.

Stephen Semple:

My doctors tell me that my medical exam was beautiful. Okay?

David Young:

Beautiful.

Stephen Semple:

He never said that’s beautiful results. It was so brilliantly beautiful that they’re sharing it with everyone. That’s a quote. I did not make that up. And we all remember that quote, right? Think about of all the stuff he said, we remember the whole thing of my medical exam was a beautiful result.

David Young:

And nobody’s ever said that about their own medical exam.

Stephen Semple:

No one ever said that about any medical exam.

David Young:

No. Well, even the whole issue of his… I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.

Stephen Semple:

There’s nothing about a colonoscopy that’s beautiful.

David Young:

Fair enough. But even things like the defense of the phone call for his first impeachment was that it was a perfect call. It was a perfect call.

Stephen Semple:

It was a perfect call.

David Young:

When have you ever had a perfect phone call?

Stephen Semple:

Never.

David Young:

You would never describe it that way. You’re right.

Stephen Semple:

Right. But over and over he would use these unusual descriptions. And unusual descriptions have been proven to have this power. What always drives me crazy when we talk about advertisers, and we’ll put in this phraseology that’s a little off [inaudible 00:07:20]. “No. That feels awkward. We’ve got to change.” It’s like no. Unusual descriptions have power.

David Young:

Absolutely. The one that’s his probably the most glaring and it was repeated so often, but I don’t think it was in the vernacular until he came up and started running was fake news.

Stephen Semple:

Fake news, he invented that.

David Young:

Journalists have always, always… I mean, I have a journalism degree, I’ve got a background in it, and you’re crazy if you think journalists have… If there’s ever been a period where there was absolute objectivity in reporting, every journalist in every newspaper, every source of news has some point of view. But to classify them all as fake, that was it. That was owning that description.

Stephen Semple:

It was owning the description. So he did these things in terms of how he spoke, how he delivered the message, packaged it in emotion, made sure there was tons of repetition on the cycle, dominated share of voice, everyone was talking about him and putting these unusual descriptions. But he had one last seventh element that also brought a lot of power.

David Young:

Stay tuned. We’re going to wrap up this story and tell you how to apply this lesson to your business right after this.

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David Young:

Flipnosis - The art of split-second persuasion

Let’s pick up our story where we left off and trust me, you haven’t missed a thing.

Stephen Semple:

But he had one last seventh element that also brought a lot of power. And if you want to read more about this idea, you can read, not about Trump, but this idea I’m going to share in the book Flipnosis by Keith Dutton.

David Young:

Flipnosis.

Stephen Semple:

Flipnosis. So Flipnosis, I’ll come back about what Flipnosis’ about. It’s an interesting book. But it’s this whole idea of delivering with absolute confidence. And if you think about sales, sales at its core is the transference of confidence. Marketing is creating of interest, sales is the transference of confidence. And he delivered it with complete utter confidence. I’ve talked to everyone. They all agree. And did it to the stage where you go, “Does he really believe it, or is he…” Complete, utter confidence. So the seven things to decode… We’ll come back Flipnosis in a second.

Stephen Semple:

So the seven elements that we can learn from Trump is speak to the customer the language of the customer, no ad speak. Talk to them the way they talk, make it feel like you’re sitting across the kitchen table from them. Make your message emotional, speak to them about what matters to them. It’s not about your goddamn features and benefits crap. Talk about what’s important to them. Make sure your advertising has a reputation. This whole ad words, click one and done stuff doesn’t work. Make sure that there’s repetition. Share of voice, try to be louder than your competition if you can by as much share of voice as you can. Be talked about as much as you can. P. T. Barnum once said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Right? Use unusual descriptions. When your ad writer brings you something that sounds unusual, don’t go, “Oh, dear. That sounds unusual, just take it out.”

Stephen Semple:

No. Power in unusual descriptions. And deliver things with complete confidence. And here’s what I mean by that, don’t use weasely words. We usually give guarantee… I mean, there’s so many weasely words out there that just drive me nuts. And weasely words drop confidence. If you’re going to give a no questions asked, money-back guarantee, it’s a no questions asked, money-back guarantee. Most people get the money-back guarantee, stop with all of that. And the reason why I bring up the book Flipnosis, Flipnosis is interesting because what Keith Dutton actually studied was con men. Con men.

David Young:

Con men. Okay. Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

Yeah. And he basically studied them, and he tore it apart, and he said, “Here’s what all of these guys have done to run these cons. And this is how they sucked people in.” It’s a fascinating book to read. The lesson in Flipnosis is delivering with complete confidence. But there’s also a lot of these other things you’ll see. But the lesson is these are the seven ways in which you will make people love you. As I think about this right now, there’s an eighth one, choose who to lose. He was okay with people hating him. And what we know is great advertising. Great advertising brings a lot of love, great advertising also brings haters. He understood that, he knew it, he had no problem with it. And good for him on that mark.

David Young:

I think the thing that you could also take away from this is all of these techniques can be used for good.

Stephen Semple:

Yes. Oh yes. Absolutely.

David Young:

You don’t have to be a con man.

Stephen Semple:

No. We’re just doing a distilling here of the techniques. Whether you believe that he’s the greatest president ever was or you believe he’s a con man, what I’m saying is the facts become irrelevant. You do these seven techniques, the facts become irrelevant. Now you could use it for good and make the world a better place, or you could use it for bad. Choice is yours. Our job here as marketers is to teach you how to build an empire. If you want to build an empire, you want raving fans. This is how you get raving fans.

David Young:

Yeah. Amen. If you want to build an evil empire, there are other…

Stephen Semple:

You can still use the same seven techniques.

David Young:

You can still use the same seven things. Don’t ask me to help. That’s what I’m saying.

Stephen Semple:

That’s what you’re saying.

David Young:

Looking forward to the next empire-building story from you, Steve.

Stephen Semple:

Evil empire, beard, gold…

David Young:

The empire of evil. Don’t be that guy.

David Young:

Thanks for listening to the podcast. Please share us. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app and leave us a big fat juicy five-star rating and review at apple podcasts. And if you’d like to schedule your own 90-minute empire-building session, you can do it at empirebuildingprogram.com.

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