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