business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

As readers of this column know, I make it a point never to comment on politics unless there’s a compelling business lesson to be found. So believe me, there’s a point causing me to write the next line:

Donald Trump will win the Presidency and do so easily!

First off, that’s not my opinion. It comes from Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, who freely admits he isn’t a fan of Trump. However, Adams thinks Trump is connecting with voters in a way that is far more human than his opponents and that’s where we find the business lesson.

Secondly, keep in mind that Adams wrote this specific blog predicting Trump’s victory before the candidate’s recent headlines on punishing women for abortions, allowing Japan and South Korea to have nuclear arms, and the indictment of his campaign manager on an assault charge. Obviously, the state of the campaign might change with the results of today's Wisconsin primary. Or it may not. It’s not like Trump is new to controversial moments.

So that is why we have to consider the broader point of why Adams thinks Trump has done so well so far and, leaving our personal politics aside, consider what he tells us about business today and making lasting connections with consumers.

“Trump knows psychology,” Adams wrote in a piece for the Washington Post. “He knows facts don’t matter. He knows people are irrational. So while his opponents are losing sleep trying to memorize the names of foreign leaders - in case someone asks - Trump knows that it is a waste of time. No one ever voted for a president based on his or her ability to name heads of state. People vote on emotion. Period.

Now let’s explore that point. Whether you love or loathe Trump you have to accept that he is doing something unexpected in the political environment, certainly at least up to this point. He’s struck a chord with a substantial group of voters in a way that, as Trump himself has joked, would survive the candidate even shooting someone. That’s a strange, but powerful connection.

Connections, especially emotionally driven ones, are extremely powerful. We know that all people - and obviously that includes shoppers - behave on these types of feelings.

Emotion can include long ingrained food likes and dislikes. It explains why shoppers have a gut reaction to specific ideas (think local foods, irradiation, gluten-free or GMOs) without fully understanding the specifics of any of those issues.

It even explains why our expectations of certain products or services are so incredibly and irrationally different than others. Admit it: there are items you gladly spend extra money on regularly and others where you hunt for savings. There are times when nutrition is everything and other times when it simply is not.

Today it’s possible to argue that emotional connection matters more than ever.

As companies examine the potentially cataclysmic changes to the competitive landscape as e-commerce takes hold or new discount players enter the market, emotion connection might matter more than ever as will understanding what your shoppers think is most important and serving that need.

Emotional engagement, experiences and both authentic and important connections might well be the key to on-going success.

So while emotional connection might not be the best way to select a president (and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time emotions overwhelmed that decision) there is a lesson in the world of politics that we all need learn.

It may not be logical, but emotional connections are hard to beat.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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