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Flaunt or Abide
by Andy
February 2, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 10.54.38 AMBoy has this been an odd year for politics, and we’re only one month into it.

Of the many things all find interesting (or frightening or empowering depending on your perspective) is, of course, The Donald.  Rules do not apply.  Convention does not apply.  Process does not apply.  Backdraft from insults does not apply.  Political incorrectness does not apply.  Past experience does not apply.  Nothing applies.  The more outrageous the statement, the wider his lead in the national polls.  And the more fervent his following.  He may need to turn it up even louder post-Iowa and I fully expect he will.  Whether it works is TBD.

Is there a cultural need being filled by his behavior?  Maybe the Internet and an explosion of media outlets is partly to blame (outrageous drives ratings).  Perhaps consumers’ addiction to faceless emails, tweets, and posts emboldens rude behavior.  Narcissistic selfies, base musical lyrics, and reality TV shows inflate egos and (arguably) blight our culture.  Shopping online lessens the importance of polite, personal interaction.  Or maybe I’m just a grumpy old man.

Whatever the cause, boorish behavior appears in vogue and conventional rules — including those for business — may be out the window.  If the goal is to create brand fervor within this new consumer reality, should businesses flaunt convention or abide by it?

As a new political product, Mr. Trump has nothing to lose.  To effectively create awareness at a low cost, he brazenly flaunts the rules.  While his scorched Earth PR strategy may eventually flame out, he has isolated an issue and capitalized on it.  Illegal immigration clearly concerns many.  His narrative on the issue is questionable for sure, but the issue is clearly real.

Issue ownership is a core tenet of relevancy marketing.  The more you own the issue(s) driving or inhibiting category growth, the more folks believe you (and your company) have ways to solve for it.  Now your products or services have purpose, depth and meaning – not just that they exist.  Better yet, it drives volume and margins.  Products without purpose are subject to price wars.

Isolate the issues, then flaunt your understanding of them in formats and forums used by your target audience.  Just do it nicely so folks want to work with you – says the grumpy old man.

10 Responses to “Flaunt or Abide”

  1. Monty for President!

  2. Certainly both Trump and Sanders see themselves as options outside of the usual “establishment”. Perhaps the younger generation is most comfortable with naked honesty even if it means sacrificing some integrity. Remember this is the generation that is applying for jobs with videos of wild parties / drug use or other questionable behavior on their online public profiles (YouTube, FB, Twitter, whatever). Certainly in the case of Trump, his un-vetted opinions (#nofilter) are convincing as authentic, but ultimately inaccuracy (even presented with candor) should not be confused as truthful or trustworthy.

  3. A timely blog, and, as usual, thoughtfully expressed.

  4. Thanks Andy. This is thoughtful. Maybe you should do an experiment. Post something unthoughtful and Trumpish and track/compare to see which gets more “impact”.

  5. Thanks Andy a good read and thoughtful questions. I am not sure that Mr. Trump owns any issues as many of his comments have shown he is not shall we say a policy wonk, but he does own the limelight and is willing to flaunt convention. That’s for sure. I think it illustrates how much one has to do in our media and information saturated environment to get noticed. I like Doug’s idea. Post something Trump like and see which gets more impact.

    Take care,

  6. While it’s interesting to go Trump on folks, I don’t have a personal wealth to sustain the backlash.

  7. “Just do it nicely” you say, but isn’t it the point to not do it nicely if you want attention for your bold, new, brash, rude approach? I think he is winning support among the powerless because he is not doing it nicely. So while it may be a good business strategy to jump on a short fad, it might not work well for the long run

  8. Exactly. His brash persona is likely unsustainable given the burned out bridges he’s leaving behind.

  9. Trump is getting attention because he is tapping in to the pent up disgust with political correctness. His rudeness is the message! Over 40 years we have gone from Don Rickles insults to a hyper sensitive society running to therapy over perceived micro aggressions. Trump is a macro aggression and people are not listening to his words but his manner – or lack of manners. His policy is all over the map but his brashness is focused and on point. This is sad. Fascinating. And perplexing to the media.

  10. At the same time Trump was obliterating Republican challengers, I was reading Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s book, “Confidence: How Much You Really Need and How to Get It”.

    The essence of the book is that competence is the genuine (and perhaps most relevant) foundation for confidence. However, some people are extremely confident with little substance to back it up.

    I couldn’t help but think of Donald Trump! His advocacy of specific processes to implement improvement have been non-existent.

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