What if… Trump used Affiliate Marketing in his next election campaign?

When in the middle of a global pandemic, the mind tends to wander off on strange tangents. Today I’ve been thinking about what would happen if Donald Trump used the core pillars of affiliate marketing to run his next election campaign.

The similarities between running a successful election campaign and creating an affiliate program that delivers results, are much the same.

Affiliate marketers think outside the box. They are problem solvers and they have to adapt to a constantly changing environment of supply and demand, as well as customer sentiment and trends. A really good affiliate marketing strategist will find new ways to get their program or offering to resonate with affiliates, they know how to work a room at a conference or in a crowd and they focus on building strong long-lasting relationships that deliver results over time and when the need arises. Much like a politician collects supporters on the election trail.

Running an affiliate program to drive profit for your business is about getting the message and values of your product or service across to groups of niche performance marketers who can then in turn, target the customers you don’t reach with mass marketing to your brand. Affiliate marketers need to have a plethora of digital marketing and sales skills to create a program that thrives. This means building a solid campaign plan and having all the building bricks in place to support that execution – flawlessly.

Affiliate Marketing is not just about selling the product.

Everything from the market position, timing, messaging and the technology that is used to drive and support the program delivery – is important. It’s what makes or breaks a program and a campaign election too. The devil is in the details. Your success is tied in to this strategy too, and with Donald Trump featuring heavily in my news feed this week, I started to consider what would happen if he used the four key pillars of affiliate marketing to build his next election campaign?

Here’s a breakdown of how Trump’s campaign team might apply affiliate marketing to their next campaign strategy:

1) Technology brings you data – and that’s the backbone of your success

Just like a campaign analyst, affiliate program managers live and die by their data. It’s critical to their success and it is what forms the strategy behind a successful and profitable affiliate program. If your technology cannot track or help you manage a growing database of affiliates and their performance, you might lose out on margin. Technology can be used to measure the accuracy of a campaign. It can also tell you what your customers are resonating with and engaging positively to. Much like a re-election campaign, Trump would need to listen to what the data tells him, before speaking out about policies and values he wants to portray. In most cases I think if he read the data and listened to what his analysts were telling him he’d likely be a lot more popular at the polls and a little less criticized in the media? Technology is a key component in the decision-making process when deciding to launch an affiliate program.  Secondly, If Trump used technology and the data that it offers to listen to his target audience, he’d be able to spend less to get his message across to the masses. Technology helps you to track the riches in the niches and is a core pillar of successful affiliate program management and foundation planning.

2) Relationships ALWAYS Matter.

Affiliate marketing is unique because a lot of what you achieve is heavily relationship building. Affiliates are much like constituents. They go where they are appreciated and felt understood and supported on key issues – like payments being made on time and frequently, insights, communication and data being transparent versus how much they are paid. Price doesn’t always drive the relationship forward. Affiliate marketing relies still on human account management. Data tells you which partners are working or detrimentally affecting your brand, but relationships help you build your brand leverage against the competition.

Trump could take a look at this tactic to build up more support from the media and use relationship building tactics over money or bullying to survive a re-election. The most skilled affiliate marketers know when to leverage the right tools to get the best commercial results on their program. Often this means forgoing budget spend to make someone feel engaged, appreciated, or important. It’s all about intuitive people and business management. Instead of a heavy focus when it comes to beating and sabotaging the opponent, there should be more focus placed on building important relationships. Humility is key to success in both instances.

3) Digital is Changing ALL the Time, so should you.

There is a reason why I say both affiliate marketing and campaign management are skills. Both require constant self-education to remain at the forefront of the latest techniques, content strategies, promotion tactics and PR spins. These jobs are not for the faint of heart and they do require a constant level of on the job learning and years of experience to really excel at it.

Using professional experts is a way to fast track your success in affiliate marketing and I believe the same would be applied to election campaign managers too. Tap into the news, current events, use tools such as AnswerThePublic to understand what your customers (and your affiliate partners) are looking for and need, then supply marketing messages that offer them what they want. An affiliate program is GLOBAL – therefore understanding localisation is key. Affiliates need to adjust and adapt their messaging based on the location they are trying to target and have all of that research behind them.

Trump needs to do the same and appreciate that there is no one size fits all approach to winning an election and therefore good communication is key. Identifying and engaging with a variety of constituents from all walks of life and across every target demographic has to be part of his strategy to win.

4) Compliance and Regulation is a necessity for trust

Affiliate marketing comes with risks. You make a choice upfront to leverage your brand (hitch your wagon) to a 3rd party partner in the hopes that you’ll get to use their network and associations and get new customers that are quality to your business.

You need to be confident that they are compliant with advertising guidelines, promoting the right products/services and more. Scaling up and managing 1000’s of partners in an affiliate program is a big job to do alone and requires specialist skills. Much like the President of a country – you have to make decisions for the masses, not for the minority.

This means being vigilant in terms of who you associate with, how your brand is represented and where and how often you market to these niche customers of this 3rd party person you’ve coupled up with. Trust and transparency are key elements of a successful affiliate program. The terms you use to engage affiliates as your partners form the foundation of your program’s performance and profitability. You need to be able to read between the lines and cut through the fake information to really get ahead in affiliate marketing. Transparency, clear objectives and goals, and supporting data is key.

In summary:

These four pillars of affiliate marketing are what generally makes or breaks an affiliate program’s performance.

Whilst these items might sound logical, they are often hard to implement in an affiliate program on a global scale. Affiliate management is complex and your marketplace can change at any time, much like a campaign election on a bad week. Good affiliate marketers learn to adapt fast like campaign managers do.

I’m pretty sure though If Donald Trump applied or learned to utilize these pillars of affiliate marketing to his re-election campaign – he would find himself with a much more successful campaign and perhaps a load of new constituents placing an X next to his name on the ballot paper.