The first reaction for many who don’t like the outcome will be to lash out about the conduct of the campaign, criticise the Clinton camp for being too complacent, or get angry with the millions who didn’t bother to vote. Calmer heads will look for the lessons. They’ll see what they can apply to their own challenges - hopefully in a positive way.
People didn’t expect Trump to win. Maybe Trump didn’t expect to win. But the unexpected happens. And in business, how often do companies that seem unassailable come a cropper because they fail to read the spirit of the times?
Simple words that stick in the mind
The overriding lessons are about communication: tuning into an audience, understanding what they are desperate to hear and then putting your message across with simple words that resonate and stick in the mind.
Trump tuned in to the frustrations and alienation felt by a significant section of the population. Previous campaigns had skipped over this demographic assuming that they would continue to vote on traditional party lines (if they voted at all).
Trump was the ‘alternative’ candidate. The Republican Party leaders would have preferred a more conventional choice and a more conventional election. Many refused to campaign with him. Trump realised that the conventional route would lead to inevitable defeat so had little to lose by being the maverick.
And, of course, somebody standing against the conventional politics and elitism that many believed had failed them was exactly what some people wanted to hear.
While considering the election result, think about your business. In particular, whether your growth forecasts or even existing business might be under threat from the unexpected challenger.
Reasons you might get ‘Trumped’:
- ‘Business as usual’ carries the risk that times have moved on without you noticing.
- Tried and trusted win themes in your bids and presentations may have been constructed around conventional wisdom and yesterday’s realities.
- A competitor might do an effective job of creating simple messages (like Make America Great Again) that reflect your client’s deeper anxieties and challenges better than you do.
For Trump, the real test starts now; just as it does when you’ve secured a major new contract. The minutiae of planning and implementation has to end up with something that people feel lives up to what they were promised.
But if all turns out to be hot air. If the reality doesn’t live up to the promise. Nobody will be saying ‘come back Hillary, we got it wrong.’ That ship has sailed. People will be looking for other solutions and other people to deliver them.