Donald Trump Is A Bad, Bad Marketer

For all the hoopla about Donald Trump’s brilliance at making deals, building a brand, and influencing behavior, he’s really quite an antique in the modern world of marketing.

From a pitchman’s perspective, Trump’s got it down to a “T.” But the pitch is not everything, as the namesake of Trump Vodka, Trump Steaks, and the disgraced Trump University is learning as he hits the wall of reality very hard.

Every year, there’s a large conference held (generally in Cleveland) called Content Marketing World. It’s where the professionals who hawk everything from Clorox to Betty Crocker get together and figure out how to get inside your brain and sell more of what they make. CMW is an impressive gathering. In my prior life as an executive with a public company, our CEO required us to attend so we don’t fall behind the times. When I was there two years ago, Kevin Spacey gave the keynote (you’d be surprised what he knows). It’s a big deal.

I guarantee that every single executive who deals with consumer behavior for a living would call Donald Trump a dinosaur. He’s the equivalent of late night on Home Shopping Network, all pitch and no depth. There’s only so much stock-in-trade that a brand has before it fades, and Trump is using his very quickly.

Now, that doesn’t mean Trump has no assets. Marketing executives would drool over his Twitter following and Facebook reach, which are both incredible. But translating that into product orders (i.e. votes) is a more scientific endeavor, which Trump clearly doesn’t get.

For example, if you sign up for recipes on, before you even get your first email, the company has been tracking you. Every mouse click and how you got there is more data for their model of you. They combine that with things like your Google data (public analytics) and determine you like brownies, and start sending you brownie recipes. When you get the emails, they track which ones you open, what you click on when you open the email, how far down the page you read when you visit their various websites, and basically every interaction you have with them.

Companies spend heavily (million of dollars) for this technology, and they closely track their ROI. It’s a business. They generally are not surprised by sales spikes or dips. They know.

Getting back to Trump. As Erick wrote, he refuses to submit to this new scientific content marketing, preferring to rely on his own pitchman skills. In his career, others have done the yeoman’s work when he’s lent his name to a product, so he’s unfamiliar (possibly) with what needs to be done. Or he’s underestimated the task. Or he’s surrounded by yes-men. Or all of the above.

For whatever reason, Trump is not up to the current standard for product marketing (him being the product), to his own detriment. The result is that a Losing, Damn Awful, Vicious, Unlikable, Calculated Person has beat him at his own game, and will probably continue to do so as Trump’s brand loses its shine.

Because the unlikeable, calculated person has invested in what every marketing executive knows you must have in the 21st century. And the dinosaur Trump is a bad, bad marketer.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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