Marketing Lessons From Stormy Daniels
I never thought I’d be writing about this topic in a family-friendly publication, but here we go. Adult film star Stormy Daniels is suing the president of the United States for permission to talk about an affair they allegedly had several years ago.
In the court of public opinion, the porn star seems to be winning.
Daniels is suing President Trump, asking to be released from the obligations of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that she signed, where she agreed not to talk about her involvement in a sexual relationship with Trump, allegedly for $130,000 in hush money paid by Trump’s attorney. However, Trump apparently did not sign the NDA, and Daniels is arguing that this means that she is released from the contract since both parties did not sign it.
All the convoluted legal issues are still being hammered out by the courts, but the point is, an adult film star is suing the president -- and so far, she seems to be winning.
The firestorm has been a persistent, unwanted distraction for the Trump administration. But whatever your politics, it’s clear that there are a few big marketing lessons from the ongoing saga of Daniels vs. Trump.
Daniels has been outspoken and has taken big risks to get her story out there, despite harsh criticism and even apparent threats and intimidation. She’s one person from an often-maligned industry who’s taking on the most powerful man in the U.S. Compared to that, launching your new marketing campaign should seem easy, right?
Don’t be afraid to take some risks with your marketing. Don’t be afraid to try new things. What’s the worst that can happen? You might get some mean messages on Twitter? Daniels is doing a great job of handling those, too.
Have a sense of mission.
Daniels is on a mission. She feels that she was mistreated and disrespected, and she's out for revenge. (While, of course, becoming more famous and making a profit).
In the same way, your brand should have a sense of purpose and mission. What difference are you trying to make in the world? What brave stands are you willing to take? Sure, every business needs to make money, but hopefully we also have principles and values that we want to support. Today more than ever, people tend to rally around brands that stand for something positive -- whether it’s environmental sustainability or fair labor practices or other elements of corporate social responsibility that speak to you. Find a way to use your company and your platform to share your mission with the world. You might even end up making more money along the way.
Stay disciplined and on-message.
Daniels has proven to be a surprisingly effective media spokesperson. She comes across as being likable, credible and eloquent. We know what she stands for, her message is succinct and crisply delivered, and she’s managed to stay in the headlines even though the most powerful office in the U.S. would love for her to go away.
Can your brand communications say the same? Maybe your story isn’t as salacious as Daniels', but no matter what you’re selling, make sure your marketing message is focused, concise and credible. Write a script for your sales calls, and stick to it, without sounding overly rehearsed or mechanical.
Be honest and authentic.
Daniels makes no apologies for what she does for a living or for who she is. She has been criticized for just wanting attention and money, and she basically has said, "Yep!" In her own way, she's being authentic and honest and disarming her critics. Somehow we've ended up in this situation where a porn star is more credible and trustworthy than the president. In fact, according to recent polls, more voters believe Daniels’ story than believe Trump.
Remember; whatever you're selling and marketing, whether it's a new product launch or a salacious story about Trump, you need to build and maintain trust with your audience. And don’t apologize for what you are. You’re a salesperson, a business owner and a representative of a great company that has something worth buying and believing in.
Time will tell whether Daniels joins the ranks of history’s forgotten political mistresses, or whether her allegations of the legal coverups and questionable financial shenanigans related to her apparent affair with Trump could create a further political scandal that brings down a presidency. But either way, she deserves credit for handling her time in the political media spotlight with savvy, eloquence, adaptability and a smart marketing strategy. Maybe more businesses should try to market their products like a porn star.