Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What Trump’s Looming Customer Experience Challenge Can Teach Marketers

Following Donald Trump's election victory, we have seen the inevitable flood of blog posts suggesting the lessons marketers must learn from his success. While such a newsworthy event provides easy fodder for this sort of speculation, I remain unconvinced there is much marketers can or should consider as of yet. The real lessons lie ahead--Donald Trump has much to teach us about long-term brand health and customer experience in the years to come.

Simply put, Donald Trump hasn't won the war--he's earned the right to fight in it. In the language of marketing, the election "marketing funnel" is complete and the country has "acquired" Donald Trump, but he won't get a chance to start "delivering on his brand promise" until after his inauguration on January 20, 2017. American citizens and history will not evaluate Trump based on his campaign or election win but on what he does next. Whether Trump delivers the "customer experience" citizens expect and earns "satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy" will determine if the "President Trump brand" is ultimately judged successful or not.

Too much can be made from Trump's victory as a marketing lesson. Marketers all face unique challenges, but few must address ones as complex as a presidential election. There isn't a brand in the world with an 18-month buying cycle that ends when 120 million consumers complete a transaction simultaneously. Few brands face as diverse and complex a set of decision criteria; this election included concerns of authenticity, trust, hacked data, ethics, legality, temperament, discrimination, and external interference, not to mention the actual issues at stake (which sadly went largely unmentioned during the campaign.) Moreover, what might we expect to learn from Trump's victory considering he failed to earn more votes than his opponent? Had Clinton won 107,330 more votes in just three states, today we'd be reading blog posts telling us what we can learn from Clinton's victory--and the lessons would be very different.

But no matter who won, the customer experience challenges would be the same, and that is the lesson marketers really should take away from this or any other election. To read more about what marketers can learn from Trump and from those brands that win the acquisition battle but lose the customer experience war, please continue reading my post on the Gartner blog.

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