Canadian Manufacturing

What the cleantech sector can learn from Donald Trump

Love him or hate him, Trump's talent is in making a connection. And brand consultant Marc Stoiber says that's something the Cleantech sector can do better

VICTORIA—He lies. He bullies. He drags the conversation into the gutter. And his followers don’t care.

Believe it or not, Donald Trump’s behaviour in the GOP nomination race carries a strong lesson for cleantech companies trying to communicate effectively. Ignore this lesson at your peril.

Donald Trump presents himself as someone his fans can believe in. They don’t care about his nonexistent political track record – that’s just proof he’s an outsider like them. They don’t care about his factual inconsistencies or outright lies – those just make him a loveable rogue. They don’t even care about the darker promises he’s made – heck, the stuffed shirts in government will make sure those don’t actually happen, right?

What they care about is a visceral connection. A personality they can identify with. They love this guy in their heart, and gut.

Contrast that with, well, every other politician in the GOP race. Politicians who can recite policy like auctioneers, but long ago checked their soul at the door. Want proof? During the last debate, each of the contenders declared Trump would ruin the country…then said they’d endorse him if he won the race.

The gut connection

So how does this apply to you?

I’ve worked with a long list of tech companies. And virtually every one of them wants to communicate by talking about what they do. Stats, facts, advantages.

Yes, this is important. If an administrator is comparing your offering to a competitor’s, you need to have more checks in your boxes than they do.

But don’t neglect the visceral connection. When I look at the communications materials created by most cleantech companies, I see zero personality.

You might argue that you present a cool image. Great photography, nice design. But that’s like saying people love Donald Trump because of his suit.

You need to have a real person as the face of the company. Not a ‘cool’ brochure.

You need to have strong opinions, and be bold enough to state them.

You need to engage in real conversation – not PR-filtered sound bites.

The people who may buy your system need to feel they’re dealing with someone they like in their gut, and heart.

In fact, they’ll even forgive flaws and weaknesses if you can demonstrate you’re the better person for the job, and your system is a reflection of your personality.

If you believe this is a dangerous departure from the industry norm, look at every candidate in the GOP race apart from the Donald. They’re the personification of the status quo, and they’re getting slaughtered.

No, this doesn’t mean trash talk

Don’t misconstrue my message. I’m not saying be like Donald.

I’m saying learn how to connect on a visceral, gut level with your audience…like Donald has done brilliantly.

As you can see from the GOP race, a strong personal connection has enabled him to decimate the competition, despite his abysmal platform.

Now imagine how you’d do if you could connect viscerally with your audience – with a brilliant piece of technology to back you up.

Marc Stoiber is a marketing/brand consultant, entrepreneur, university professor and writer. He helps clients in tech, healthcare and sustainability create simple, powerful brand propositions and stories. He can be reached at

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