How B2B Marketers Could Bankrupt Donald Trump

How B2B Marketers Could Bankrupt Donald Trump

Gary Slack | November 30, 2017

Make his hotels and golf courses the pariahs of places to book business events.

Yes, image-conscious charities (19 at last check) are canceling—and not booking as many—fundraising events at Trump properties, as The Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Fahrenthold has been reporting.

Yes, after years of being reliable Trump venue patrons, many professional basketball teams are no longer staying, golfing and partying at Trump properties, as Fahrenthold also has reported.

Plus, there have been reports that Trump’s golf course revenue is way down (Fahrenthold again) and that some hotels in his empire are seeing declining revenue. In fact, his only property that is truly booming is the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which is attracting obsequious diplomats, favor-hunting lobbyists and other sycophants in droves.

Those dents to Trump’s bottom line, as significant and highly publicized as they have been, are peanuts compared to what could happen to his fortunes if his real bread and butter—business event bookings—were to start eroding, too.

By that, I mean golf events, conferences and other kinds of meetings, large and small, that corporations, professional societies, trade associations and other business groups book by the hundreds of thousands all over the world every year.

In fact, I believe that many business organizations are already canceling or cutting back future Trump bookings, but very, very, very quietly—which makes this story that much harder to get for Fahrenthold and other first-rate investigative journalists at fakery-free The New York Times, The New Yorker, Politico, The Atlantic, the AP, Axios and, yes, even the news section of The Wall Street Journal.

For those business entities cutting back, planning to or even thinking about it, the first question is why. Here are three reasons.

  1. Workforce negativity. Many, but certainly not all, employees of many companies see or would see holding events at Trump properties as antithetical to their moral beliefs.
     
  2. Customer embarrassment. Many customers would view asking them to attend meetings at Trump properties as controversial, leading to displeased invitees and bruised relationships.
     
  3. Brand and reputation damage. Were word of support of Trump properties to spread widely and get amplified by activists, company PR departments would be in full damage-control mode and CEOs and directors would come under intense questioning.

I believe that the question of booking Trump properties has become a risk mitigation issue for many business groups and that, for example, it has been an agenda item at not a few board meetings of both publicly and privately held corporations.

So, if they wanted to, how could so-inclined b2b marketers goose this incipient trend and speed up the widespread turning away from Trump properties by naturally and understandably risk-averse business entities?

They could create a website called, say, www.bookelsewhere.com, which would provide corporate meeting/event planners a handful of nearby venue alternatives for every Trump hotel and golf course around the world.

On this website, they could shine a bright disinfectant-type light on all business groups that have held, are holding or have booked future events at Trump properties—and use advanced social media and digital techniques to share such information with employees, customers and shareholders.

They could rank corporations and business groups by the amount of business they do or are planning to do with Trump properties—resulting in a top 50 list for activists of all kinds to further target.

They could run “Book Elsewhere” ads on meeting and event planner websites leading, via clicks, to the website to learn about alternative booking locations and see what’s happening to “outed” businesses.

They could start a grassroots email- and letter-writing campaign to the CEOs of businesses doing business with the Trump Organization to ask that they cancel any already-scheduled events and book future ones elsewhere.

And this is just the start of a long list of awareness-building tactics that could be deployed, ideally by b2b marketers who know how to reach and motivate what we call BDMs—business decision makers.

Of course, when the Post’s Fahrenthold or another top-flight investigative journalist finally nails this extremely hard-to-get story, the cat will be out the bag and businesses will be falling all over themselves to end or further reduce Trump Organization ties.

And very possibly another Pulitzer Prize will be in the offing.

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