Some of you love that it happened, others can’t stand it, and most are cautiously hopeful/optimistic.
This post isn’t to get you angry, nor to play on the popularity of the topic. There is a real reason the Don sits in America’s highest office—and it could help with your marketing.
Last the country knew, Hillary was supposed to be proclaimed before 9 p.m., but history now records one of the most epic upsets ever. There were some who knew that things were going to go differently, and it wasn’t based on a hunch—it was solid data, not faulty polls.
The subject of psychometrics has burst on the scene and (almost singlehandedly) toppled the “establishment” of left/right politics for at least a few years.
Our overview has links, resources, and the details as to why America’s most outspoken billionaire became the leader of the free world.
Here we go!
Brief Intro to Psychometrics
The term may sound intimidating, but it’s essentially a scientific mash-up of psychology + metrics.
Simply put, it’s the practice of measuring psychological data.
According to Wikipedia, it’s the objective measurement of skills and knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational achievement.
Why It’s Important to Marketing
Advertising is a whole lot different nowadays (you know that), but it’s getting more advanced by the hour with big data tracking every move of the connected world.
Every YouTube video, Facebook like, even the amount of time you read a post are all tracked somewhere. This surprisingly valuable data is used to understand what it is you like (with shocking accuracy in many cases).
Every suggested post and Hulu ad could be using your online history to slowly, but surely edge you into a decision.
It could be powerful enough to make you buy things that you may not have without the data. Don’t believe us?
With that, let’s get into how this process has a heaping pile of validity to show that it may be more than a passing phase.
U.K. voted on whether or not to stay in the European Union. Up until the day of the vote, things were tight, but it seemed like voters were in the “stay” category.
It didn’t happen like the polls suggested.
This is where we get our first clue that psychometrics could be powerful in terms of marketing. A company called Cambridge Analytica was employed to derive the psychological data of voters in the U.K.
The potentially revolutionary difference is in the approach.
Marketing efforts for the “stay” category were very traditional. Loud, threatening adverts telling the potential dangers of leaving the E.U. broadcast throughout the country.
Some (no doubt) geared towards women, others minorities, and white men.
The Key Difference is in the Psychology
Instead of grouping people based on skin color or gender, psychometric data is used to group people based on interests, decisions, backgrounds, and emotions (e.g. fear).
The more exact science allows ads to hit closer to home for those who see them.
Let’s say you want people to stay off your property. A “NO TRESPASSING” sign is informational, broad, and generic.
However, a government property may use a sign that the “use of deadly force is authorized for all who trespass”. This sign is emotionally fear based and speaks to their target audience of curious onlookers and alien hunters.
How did this help Brexit?
Example One: A video from Sir Richard Branson talking about some pretty vague benefits for his personal business. This is an example of the “stay” ads. Generic.
Example Two: The video below shows ten different adverts from the “leave” camp. They are versatile and speak to a variety of potential psychological needs. Fiscal fear, patriotism, familial issues and a host of other things that are so much more emotionally powerful than gender and skin color.
All Based On the Data
Putting together how someone typically votes alongside the posts they like on Facebook and what purchases they typically make at a supermarket; when spread across a large enough group can yield powerful insights.
Those insights create ads, and those ads effect change (or sell products).
It’s o.k. to be scared and excited.
Cruz Used Before Trump
Hop across the pond during primary season and Ted Cruz is hiring Cambridge Analytica to do research in Iowa (the first and very important primary).
At the time, he was one of the least known candidates.
Before the primary, Donald was supposed to win big (a running theme this year). In the end, it was Cruz who seemed like he may topple the publicity giant.
Cruz used a three-part strategy based on the data provided by Cambridge to hyper-target smaller segments of voters in the Hawkeye state. Instead of the traditional attack ads, his were full of psychological triggers for the right audience.
Instead of speaking to all people in an age group, income level, or other demographic/geographic; the research is broken down using an “OCEAN” model.
Openness: How open a person is to new experiences.
Consciousness: Order, habits, and planning of life.
Extroversion: How outgoing is a person.
Agreeable: Putting others before oneself.
Neuroticism: How much a person tends to worry.
Using this data, you can create specific messaging that resonates with the person or group you are targeting.
Back in the old days of advertising, it was all about cool slogans and attractive visuals. Not only are those less effective in today’s culture—they’re not even necessary.
All the data that is readily available is your audience telling you exactly what they want to hear. You just have to listen. Hundreds and thousands of data points will tell you how to nuance your messaging.
The data comes from the three main areas—demographic, psychographic, and personality.
Addressable Ad Tech
The genius was the budgeting. Instead of spending it all on daytime television, Cruz put the ads in front of people right online via social media (saving money and getting it in front of the right people).
All of that data was put to use in different ads for segmented groups. The days of mass communication are over.
If you want to see the video explaining the Cruz campaigns usage of Cambridge Analytica, it’s below. The whole thing is worth a watch.
Trumped Up Targeting
As we all know, Ted Cruz isn’t the President. So, let’s get into how Trump used the same system to win the Presidency.
It’s no secret that Trump seems to work hard and go full blast towards anything that he wants. Although, it seems that use of data and targeting was the responsibility of his son-in-law—Jared Kushner.
Regardless of whose idea it was to give psychometrics a try, it was trumped up to a degree that has left Democrats (and Republicans) scratching their heads and wiping teary eyes.
The method of using behavioral science and data analytics in order to put together a marketing plan worked for Cruz (to a certain extent). He was able to secure the second highest number of electoral votes.
This fact raised the eyebrows of the Trump camp.
While I wasn’t there, it seems that combining this psychographic approach with the bravado and showmanship of the Don was too much to pass up—Thus, the Trump campaign started working with Cambridge Analytica.
Why does this interest you?
Good question. You may be entertained so far, but looking for how it’s going to help your business.
Some of the billionaire’s businesses have come under scrutiny, but the way he used the information provided by the folks at Cambridge was masterful.
We can use this example for all of our marketing. Here are two key ways:
1. Find Out Where You’re Wanted (With Behavioral Analysis)
Turns out that voters who favored cars built in America were likely to vote for Trump. It’s this (and other) indications that led the campaign to heavily focus their efforts in the “Rustbelt” states.
So much campaigning, social, and traditional advertising went to Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio—especially toward the end of the race.
Where do your products work?
Not based on the typical data (although it’s a good start), but how about using other insights to find out how to position your message to be more effective to smaller audiences.
A few more ad variations could lead to much higher conversions. Which leads to point two.
2. Talk to Smaller Groups of People
The political ad game is hated by everyone in the public.
“He’s a crook.” “She’s a crook.” “Lock her up.” “Locker room talk.”
It’s just annoying and makes for some terrible T.V. time in the evening. Trump did participate in these typical ads, but not nearly as much as the small audience ads.
The third presidential debate. The team used the data to fuel his positions and fine tune the message the American people needed to hear in order to trust him just enough to step into the booth and make the call.
Again, it worked.
While you may not run even 100 variations in a day, it would benefit you to split test ads in smaller groups segmented by the behavioral data analyzed.
How It Rocked the Establishment (and Traditional Marketing)
Again, the data definitely helped but may not be enough to say it’s the single reason we have a Trump Presidency.
In my opinion, it’s a mix of handy data science, human spectacle, and a bit of uninformed snobbery.
The data in the northern steel states is undeniably intriguing. Mix that with a man that drew more airtime than any other candidate (due to the fact that no one knew what he was going to say next) and you have a solid base for why people looked to Trump to lead us.
One of the most overlooked reasons for the swing in politics was the establishment’s inability to react.
The Democratic party played it the exact same way as the last several elections.
They failed to innovate, much like many businesses.
So, how long have you been hearing about building a growth team, setting up buyer personas, or experimenting to see growth month over month?
Are your marketing efforts the same as others in your industry and have been for the last several years?
If you haven’t acted, that could be the reason for your stalled business.
Worse yet, if you don’t do something to speak to your audience they way they want—you could end up losing to a louder company with iconic hair.
About Samuel J. Woods
I'm a Copywriter and Growth Marketer. My clients work with me to build and optimize their growth systems for customer acquisition and monetization.