How Trump Won (A SOSTAC Analysis)


How Trump Won (a SOSTAC Analysis)

by prsmith

Many are still wondering how Donald Trump became president of the United States Of America, despite himself?  Here’s an analysis, using SOSTAC® Planning Framework to explore some of Trump’s plan and to give some insights into his subsequent successful campaign. Comments are most welcome. Situation analysis (where are you now) , Objectives (where are you going?), Strategy (how do you get there?), Tactics (the details of strategy), Action (how do you ensure excellent execution) and Control (how do you know you are getting there – what will you measure?).

SOSTAC circular graphic showing all 6 steps

–Situation Analysis–

Customer Analysis

Who – are Trump’s potential voters?

Trump focused on “left-behind” voters, specifically white working-class men (and women). He initially gambled on targeting one powerful voting bloc, (some pollsters thought this would alienate too many people) suggests Harvard’s professor Stephen Greyse (Fottrell 2016).   Clinton’s target audience was far broader, reaching out to the middle-class and “left-out” voters and black and Latino ‘left-out’ voters (many of whom had not yet a slice of the American pie). A month before the elections Trump had 57k transactors (contributors) of whom 68% were male and 32% were female, compared to Clinton who had 914k transactors of whom 36% were male and 64%  were female

Why – do Trump’s potential voters vote (what are their needs)?

Many people wanted change. Many others were frustrated and maybe even angry about their lives. Some have fears rather than hope. Is it possible that Trump’s upbeat’ #MakeAmericaGreatAgain or #MAGA hashtag played into the unconscious fears that if you don’t vote for Trump, America will get worse ie whatever is bad about America will become far worse? See the word-cloud graphics (in the final, ‘Control’ section) which demonstrates how Trump repeated these messages.


How – do Trump’s potential voters decide (how do they process information)?

Shorter attention spans. Research from Harvard revealed that attention spans for the first ever telivised political debate between JFK and Nixon back in 1960, was only 42 seconds (the maximum time to get a serious political message across). This fell to just 5 seconds in 2008 and even less since in 2012. There are many other variables involved here also, but, short attention spans is significant and perhaps gives a clue why Britain voted marginally for Brexit (short anti-EU messages had far more impact than long economic pro EU messages). .

Competitor Analysis

During the Republican nomination race, Trump saw a right wing gap and went for it. He also analysed the political establishment through the eyes of disenchanted voters. Trump became the Republican candidate for the presidential election. Next he analysed his opposition, the Democrats, Hilary Clinton. When he found a perceived weakness that resonated with his voters (see the Control section in part 2) he went for it. President Obama had unprecedented success in targeting, organizing and motivating voters,we imagine Trump’s team studied this blog post How Obama Became America’s First Black President to understand his competitor’s strategy and tactics.

This photo of Obama's Chair from behind, in the Oval office, This image went viral during the 2008 campaign with the caption: 'This seat is taken'

Current Performance

With the election just a month away, donations raised by October 2016: Clinton had $298m from 914,000 transactors (donors) and Trump had just $50.1m from 57,000 donors (Cortana et al).

Opinion polls favoured Clinton.


Originally to win the Republican Nomination and then, win the presidential election (after that we just don’t know).



Trump positioned himself as a non-establishment guy. An ‘outsider’a ‘non-political establishment guy’.   He simultaneously positioned Clinton as an establishment person. An ‘insider’ (a politician linked to Obama’s policies) (Kanski 2016). Trump played the confrontational card which helped him to establish authenticity amongst frustrated voters. So he became a ‘controversial (non-establishment) ordinary guy’.

Meanwhile, Trump positioned Clinton as an untrustworthy ‘insider’ and threatened to take her to court after the election. Clinton’s authenticity was challenged by high-lighting the fact that ‘she seemed to say one thing in her speeches and another behind the scenes, illustrated in her emails leaked by Wikileaks and “basket of deplorables” comments (Kanski 2016). The CIA revelations days before the vote appeared to attack Clinton’s authenticity. Or was all this information fed by the Russians? There’s definitely a movie in this story.

‘controversial (non-establishment) ordinary guy’    v     untrustworthy ‘insider’ establishment lady

Was it like this?

a perceptual map showing trump positioned as a non-establishment reasonably trustworthy guy and Clinton as an establishment lady and untrustworthy

Apart from Clinton’s followers, one wonders whether the average American could relate to Clinton as easily as they could to Trump (or Obama in the previous two elections).

 The ‘Ordinary (non-establishment) Guy’ Created Authenticity

While Trump followers believed Trump had authenticity as he, rightly or wrongly, ‘says it like it is’.  The difference in authenticity, according to Kanski, was simply that ‘People can relate to bankruptcies, to locker room talk, to tough talk on terrorism, and that was difference. Whilst Trump might be a billionaire, but he’s been bankrupt, uses locker-room talk i.e. his life experiences somehow seemed to resonate more with the average undecided voter.’  

People viewing New York

Freight trains

Industrial buildings

Old Strategy

Trump initially raised his own profile by making headline-grabbing statements, often by calling in to television shows, supplemented by a rally once or twice a week to provide the appearance of a traditional campaign (Bertoni 2016).

New Strategy

Trump’s crystal clear positioning as the ‘controversial (non-establishment) ordinary guy’  was supported by data driven highly targeted tailored messages on facebook & twitter to “left-behind”  white working-class men (and women), combined with sentiment manipulation, machine learning, constant beta culture and almost instant reactions to audience mood swings .

Trump’s son in law, Jared Trump, took over the campaign created this new strategy and, amongst other things,  set up a secret data operation-like a Silicon Valley startup. ‘Kushner eventually tipped the states that swung the election. And he did so in manner that will change the way future elections will be won and lost.’ (Bertoni 2016).


Within three weeks, in a nondescript building outside San Antonio, he had built what would become a 100-person data hub designed to unify:

  • fundraising,
  • messaging
  • targeting

They also tapped into the ‘Republican National Committee’s data machine, and it hired targeting partners like Cambridge Analytica to map voter universes and identify which parts of the Trump platform mattered most: trade, immigration or change’ (Bertoni 2016) . Forbes reported: ‘Tools like Deep Root drove the scaled-back TV ad spending by identifying shows popular with specific voter blocks in specific regions–say, NCIS for anti-ObamaCare voters or The Walking Dead for people worried about immigration. Kushner built a custom geo-location tool that plotted the location density of about 20 voter types over a live Google Maps interface.’

Arial view of on American city showing the grids

Very quickly data determined decisions, so just like Teddy Goff and previous Obama campaigns data dictated almost every campaign decision including:

  • travel, fundraising
  • advertising
  • rally locations
  • topics of the speeches

A data-driven strategy made sense. Trump also used the Magic Marketing Formula consistently in his tactics which were driven by the over-riding strategy. Part 2 (next week) explores the second half of SOSTAC® – Tactics (including the Magic Marketing Formula), Action and Control.

(Taken from


Presentations 2

English Skill: Ending a Presentation

Keeping with the theme of presentations, imagine you have just given an amazing presentation, your use of English (so far) has been great, but now it’s time to bring the presentation to a close. This part of a presentation can often be difficult as you don’t want your audience to feel cut short or unsure as to if you have actually concluded your presentation or not. Your audience will often remember the last things you say in your presentation, so making sure that you don’t just kind of fizzle out at the end is important.

Take a look at the image below. You will find some common phrases to end a presentation in a convincing and professional manner. 

Common phrases to bring your presentation to an end.

Common phrases to bring your presentation to an end.

Have you got a presentation in English coming up soon? What do you find most difficult during a presentation?


How computer games can help you to learn and practice English

Computer adventure games can be a fun and interesting way to learn and practice English.

Adventure Games

An adventure game is like a movie/film but one in which you control the lead character and, to an extent, the other characters as well. Your role is usually that of a detective of some description and you can move your character around the screen, look at things, collect and pick up things and best of all interact with the other characters in the game by speaking with them.

When you talk to someone in the game, a list of possible things that you can say appears at the bottom of the screen for you to select. Whatever you select will determine the reply you receive and to a lesser extent, the outcome of the ‘scene’. Both what you say and what characters say back to you can usually be shown as subtitles on the screen which is a great aid for lower level English learners.

Take a look at this clip from a great adventure game called “Grim Fandango”

Adventure games are great fun and you can soon find yourself completely engrossed in the adventure while at the same time learning and improving your English.

Benefits of playing computer adventure games:

  • Fill your head with English
  • Improve your understanding of spoken English
  • Improve your pronunciation
  • Motivate yourself (adventure games can be very engrossing and great fun!)

Tips when using computer adventures games to learn English:

  • Try to make sure you have a dictionary at hand. Pause and look up any words or expressions you don’t understand.
  • Write down all the new words and expressions you learn
  • Try to repeat English sentences to improve your pronunciation
  • Try to play the game without subtitles to improve your understanding of spoken English


Are You Left-Brained or Right-Brained?

Which side of your brain do you tend to think with?

The Human Brain!

The Human Brain!

Although no one is completely left-brained or right-brained, you probably favour one side over the other. Schools have traditionally favoured left-brained students but it is thought, with online learning becoming more and more popular, that is changing.

Take a look at some of the general differences between the left and the right brain hemispheres.

Left/Right Brain Characteristics.

Left/Right Brain Characteristics.

In most online learning environments a right-brained learner may have a distinct advantage over a left-brained learner. Left brained-learners like structure and schedules that are normally not commonplace in the online learning environment. Right-brained learners, on the other hand, love the flexibility that online learning presents. They love colour, images and the ability to learn English in their own time.

You may be able to spot if your teacher is more left-brained or right-brained. Take a look at the following.

Left-Brained / Right-Brained Teachers

Left-Brained / Right-Brained Teachers.

So are you more of a lefty or a righty? Have a look at the video below. It shows a dancer turning around on the spot. If you see her spinning in a clockwise direction then it is said you are using more of the right side of your brain. If you see her spinning anti-clockwise then you are supposed to be using more of the left side (please note that this is not a scientific way to determine if you are left/right brain dominant. It does, however, raise some interesting questions about vision).

Look carefully and focus. Can you change the direction in which she is turning?

Restaurants 3

English Skill: Making an Invitation

Situation: You’ve been having a good week at work and are just about to take your lunch break when you see one of your colleagues standing outside the entrance to the company. You are feeling upbeat and generous, so decide to invite your colleague to lunch/dinner. Take a look at the related English phrases below to see how common phrases can be used to make dinner/lunch invitations.

Making Invitations

How long are the lunch/dinner breaks at your company? Do you feel they should be longer? In some countries, lunch breaks can last for as long as three hours!


Restaurants 2

English Skill: Ordering from the Bar

Situation: You and some colleagues/friends are enjoying an evening out at a local bar/restaurant. You are all having a look at the drinks menu in order to see what is available and to decide what you will have to drink. Take a look at the related phrases you could use to discuss what’s on the menu and to speak with the waiter when he arrives to take your order.

Restaurants 2

Any questions? 🙂


Restaurants 1

English Skill: Selecting a Starter

Situation: You and a friend are dining out at a nice little restaurant downtown, have ordered your drinks and are now deciding what to have as an appetiser. Sometimes deciding what to have from the vast array on offer on the menu can seem like mission impossible – everything just sounds so nice! Take a look at various phrases that you may want to make use of next time you find yourself in a similar situation.

Eating Out Selecting a Starter

When was the last time you dined out and had to use English? What did you have as your starter?