Watching the Republican primaries unfold in the United States, The Selective’s media planner Karleen Reeve made an early call that Trump would win that race and then the one for the presidency. Her friends and family were quick to bet against her (and they still haven’t paid up.)
Karleen has more than 20 years’ experience using in-depth and up-to-date quantitative research to develop effective media plans for her clients. She could see that Trump’s team was using research and data to successfully tap into the psyches of the many people who felt disenfranchised by ‘typical politicians’.
A strategy that can’t be ignored
While it may have played out in on a political platform, Karleen says it’s a strategy that New Zealand businesses can’t ignore when trying to engage with consumers.
“You’ve got to get to know your audience by looking at the research and data available. Then you need to find a message that resonates with them. It’s all about connecting,” she explains. “Using data and research, Trump tapped into this vast, often diverse group of people from across the States. It was kind of a scatter-gun approach, but it worked.”
Elaborating, Karleen says that Trump used social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to deliver a range of messages, sometimes even contradictory ones. He then used the ones that ‘stuck’, or that resonated well with the majority, as his direction going forward.
Journalist Simon Wilson agrees, pointing to the Trump camp’s skill in “slicing and dicing” the data to target hundreds of thousands of messages. These, he calls, “the modern trick”.
Understanding personality drivers
According to an article from Motherboard, Trump’s campaign team used this data to “speak” to voters across The States. The result saw targeted advertising messages that reached out and connected with a wide variety of voters.
Using psychometrics based on data drawn from Facebook and other social networks, the Trump camp could understand people’s needs and fears and how they were likely to behave. “Trump was being written off by the media and political commentators, but people on his Facebook page just loved him,” Karleen says. You would hardly find a bad word said about him on that platform. Meanwhile on Hillary’s pages there were plenty of detractors. It was this ground-swell of public support that gave him the victory. “Right from the first Republican debates, I could see that Trump’s engagement with his audience on Facebook was in a different league to Hillary’s. It was at this point, a year before the election, I put my money on Trump.”
Emotionally connect to engage consumers
Karleen says that throughout the election process there were many lessons that Kiwi businesses should use to help them connect with customers, including:
• Making sure you have a consumer insight report – this background research and data will help you understand what your target market’s inclinations and triggers are. Understand what they care about.
• Using the right mix of advertising coverage – from traditional media through to social. For example, an older audience will watch TV or read the papers, while the younger age-groups get their information digitally.
• Employing emotional triggers – images and emotive language that your market can relate to.
• Testing – much like Trump’s scatter-gun approach, find an approach that works by using A&B testing and see how the market responds, what really resonates with them. Facebook posts can quickly show what type of messaging people/consumers respond to.
• Targeting your message to each audience.
Heart not head
Karleen says more often than not, people’s emotional triggers are what drives them to respond, purchase or act in a certain way. So, businesses wanting to connect with potential customers need to have a good mixture of media engagement, creativity and social execution, to spark this emotional connection.
“It’s not about using logic – people don’t tend to buy on logic. Firstly, you’ve got to really engage their emotions and then you can throw in a bit of logic to connect.”
It is these triggers that Trump and his team used well, creating personalised messages that emotionally captivated different segments of his audience. “You want a message that connects and makes people spark and respond,” Karleen says.
“When someone falls in love with something, their head will create it’s own logic as to why they need it, or need to act.”