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America Elects First Marketer President In History

November 22, 2016

For a truly effective social campaign, a brand needs to embrace the first principles of marketing, which involves brand definition and consistent storytelling. Simon Mainwaring

As the bloodletting and finger pointing continues about the 2016 presidential election, the reality is, we have a new president and a new direction of the country.

American Democracy is a breathing living experiment in governing that continues to be the preferred Dream of immigrants from around the world.

President elect Donald J. Trump is the first marketer in the history of America to win the highest office. Agree or disagree with his politics, policy, business acumen, or ethics he is our leader for the next four years.

Only time will tell what his enduring legacy and footprint he will leave on generations to come.

Behind the scenes, Jose Monterrosa, founder and principal owner of Imagina Communications, a PR and advertising firm that specializes in Hispanic marketing was spot on in his prediction of Mr. Trump’s win.

Can Jose now use his expertise in predicting the next phase of Trump the marketer? What follows is a candid question and answer session in this series that is apolitical and free of ideology from either side of the political spectrum.

V: Jose first congratulations are in order. You accurately forecast Donald Trump would win the primaries and the election. From a marketing perspective, in your opinion what was the winning edge over and above what has been already reported and said?

J: My forecast was based on my marketing experience and cases with similar outcomes, especially in Central and South America with Hugo Chavez. Other colleagues who analyzed Trump’s presidential campaign found similarities with Mussolini and Hitler. Meanwhile others have compared Trump to Ronald Reagan.

Overall, I think his approach made me believe that he was on the winning path despite all the controversy generated during the campaign. These are some of the attributes that gave him a competitive advantage during the Republican nomination race and the general election:

1. He spoke the mind of the “oppressed:” I strongly believe that he spoke the mind of a significant part of the population who feels oppressed by what we know as political correctness. These individuals feel the system has set a “mordaza” (muzzle) on them and restricts their freedom of speech.

Also, based on Donald Trump’s three problem areas of government, these individuals feel oppressed by a system that has not provided opportunities for economic development, have been affected by the escalating healthcare costs and feel unfair treatment as a taxpaying citizen.

2. Risk taker: He dared to say the things other politicians avoided. He was bold, direct in his approach to challenge what is known as the Washington establishment. This obviously resonated with the beliefs of his target market.

3. Winner attitude: I believe he had winner attitude from day one, and he made that clear too despite the criticism. When other candidates played safe, Trump dared to attack with a winner’s bravado.

4. No political liability: Not being a politician gave him a large advantage because he was risk free in terms of a future political career in Washington

5. An outsider voice: Not coming from the established political arena set him apart and that was probably his key differentiator. His business background also gave him this aura of a different and fresh perspective to government challenges

6. An established brand: His years in business, books and a reality show gave him a recognized national and international brand name. This represented a significant advantage in terms of brand awareness

V: Do you think media was complicit in electing Donald Trump by giving him perhaps over three billion in earned free media?

J: Most of the news media misunderstood Donald Trump, and I think they still lack understanding. I would say that during the Republican primaries race the news media played his game in a very amateur way. While he knew what he was doing, they did not. Once he won the Republican nomination, the news media began to see him as a threat and clearly began favoring Hillary Clinton.

A recent article published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) stated that the media suffered from cognitive bias when covering the election and, ironically, the more they favored Hillary Clinton and the more they attacked Donald Trump, the more his followers were engaged. Per HBR, this is known as “psychological reactance.” Not wasting time, Trump also saw these attacks as an opportunity to build on his brand promise by framing media as part of a “rigged system.”

My interpretation is that the mainstream media ended up empowering the Donald Trump brand.

V: How do you explain the 29% Latino vote?

As previously stated, part of this is explained by the media being cognitive biased towards the Clinton campaign. In other words, mainstream media ignored voluntarily or involuntarily the perception of 1/3 of Latino voters.

One also has to wonder if Latino Trump voters perhaps decided to stay silent fearing alienation from friends and family. A Noticias Telemundo (Spanish TV news network) story that aired the day of the election showed a few voters in that situation.

We also have to question if pollsters used the wrong methodology and the wrong sample.

Despite the above, Latino marketers like me have argued that Latinos are not a homogeneous group as many of our Anglo friends usually conclude. This election has proven that point and businesses should learn from this.

V: Has media and political marketing forever changed? If so why?

J: I think Donald Trump gave his campaign a unique spin but I really doubt that anyone will dare to replicate his approach because it was extremely controversial. What has changed over the last few years is people’s perception of mainstream media. They have lost a lot of credibility according to data from different sources. I wouldn’t be surprised that the perception has deteriorated even more after this election.

Recently, there is a lot of talk about “fake news.” The term is yet to be defined clearly. In the mean time, I would rather describe them as alternative sources of information which to my understanding are simply the result of people losing trust of what should be a reliable source of information.

V: Moving forward what do you think the 70% of Latinos that did not vote for Trump need to consider and be open to accepting?

J: Donald Trump has been all about generating controversy that has played nicely in the ears of his followers. The more anti-Trump Latinos have reacted to his statements, the more they have played his game. My recommendation is to not to fall in that trap again because, as of now, there is no indication that he will stop generating controversy. Sometimes “al enemigo hay que ignorarlo,” (sometimes the enemy should be ignored) as indicated in an article published in Marketing Directo.

As a business owner, I will adhere to the words of a prominent Latino leader in Houston, Texas: it’s time to come together and move forward.

V: Do you think Latino marketing can play a role in advancing Latinos in a trump administration? If so how?

J: None if he doesn’t deliver. So far the country has been at a product pre-launch stage but we all know that no marketing will succeed if the product doesn’t deliver once launched. In marketing terms, the product launch will take place the day of the presidential inauguration. At that point, the clock will be ticking for Donald Trump. He will have to deliver fast at different levels.

In regards to Latinos, his team will have to create achievable programs that specifically target the low-income Latino communities to help them overcome the poverty cycle that a lot of families are immersed in. Stimulating the economy for job creation and focusing on education to defeat poverty will be key among Latinos in Texas, I believe.

V: Any final thoughts?

J: A lot of Latinos in the U.S. like me are immigrants from many countries governed by failed governments. We came here for different reasons but one stands out the most: economic advancement. I do believe that the hope for economic advancement, usually known as the American Dream, is still alive and it’s achievable.

Other ethnic groups have paved the path to follow as we assimilate or acculturate. America is a melting pot and an on-going government experiment because of our race, ideology, religion and gender diversity. The more diverse we are, the more dynamic the government needs to be.

If the experiment doesn’t work for many, we wash rinse and repeat all over again every four years. That fluid political process is what allows us to swing from one side to the next to adapt and find the best practices.

About Victor Escalante: Victor is an author, communications and corporate consultant who has taught advanced communications at five universities and two community colleges. He has two decades of experience in TV, newsprint, radio, and new media. Victor has been a political consultant to candidates in the Texas cities of San Antonio, Houston, and El Paso.

[Image: Creative Commons Gage Skidmore]

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