Donald Trump’s Top Three Tips for
Dominating Your Niche

image of Donald Trump

We know his name. We know his brand.

We even know his hair.

But do we know how he does it?

If Donald Trump has created a building in your city, you know it. You not only know he has one, but you know exactly where it is.

Maybe you even know how much it cost. You might even know about buildings he’s developed in other cities.

Are there any other real estate developers you can say that about? Why do we know so much about The Donald?

This happened to me when I was in Chicago last year. I looked out the window and BAM … there he is again. Trump International Hotel, Chicago.

So what are the methods that The Donald uses, the stuff that can help us find a larger audience, write a better blog, build a better business?

Turns out they’re simple, effective, and unforgettable.

Trump Tip #1: Be everywhere

Are you posting only on your own website? Are you only writing, but not doing videos? Are your ads appearing only where everyone else’s (including your competitors) are? Then you’re missing out on a lot of what you can do to build audience, visibility, and profile.

People need to see your face. They need to feel your energy. They need to see your hair everywhere they go.

If you’re only giving your audience a part of who you are, and only in a certain location, that’s like being a guru on top of a mountain in Bhutan. If no one can find you, you’re not likely to get a lot of disciples.

How about, instead, you participate everywhere you’re allowed to? You use every medium to which you’re allowed access?

Trump Tip #2: Don’t pay cash

The Donald may be rich, but do you really think he pays cash — whether to develop real estate or to access new audiences? Most people misunderstand how business works and think that, in many cases, they’re unable to do something that is totally within reach.

When Trump writes a book with Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame, do you think it’s because they were like “High five! Let’s write a book together, just for kicks!”

Uh, no.

Top-level players do projects like these to get access to each other’s audiences. Everything is strategic. Everything is done for leverage. And “leverage” is just another word for “I didn’t pay cash to play.”

Same thing when he does Trump University and The Apprentice. All of these are audience plays. Trump doesn’t pay cash, ever.

He trades chips with people who can benefit him.

You can work the same angles. Don’t try to get your audience, or your customers, by buying them. Instead, play the game. Use chips. Think strategically about how you can use leverage to gain access to something you otherwise couldn’t.

Trump Tip #3: Exceed expectations

When I walked into the Trump International Beach Resort in Miami, I was skeptical. What I believed I’d see and what I actually experienced were vastly different.

I was shocked by how polite the staff were. I was stunned by the fact that I actually wanted to spend time there. But most of all, I was shocked by the smell.

Yes, the smell.

The air in the Trump International had a light, fragrant, airy perfume. It was amazing.

Can you shock people? Not with rudeness or vulgarity (necessarily), but with your over-the-top attitude, your expertise, your commitment to doing something great, or your extravagance?

You may not have the ability (or desire) to shock with Trump-like excess. But you can also shock with your appreciation for the little things — the details.

Be Like The Donald?

You may not take The Donald seriously. The hair does make it difficult.

Or you may think you could never translate what he’s done to your own business. It certainly isn’t easy.

But it does have a formula, and this is it:

You have to try.

About the Author: Julien Smith is a consultant, speaker, and New York Times bestselling author who has been involved in online communities for over 15 years –- from early BBSes and flashmobs to the social web as we know it today. Read his blog at

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Reader Comments (93)

  1. says


    Interesting tips on how Donald Trump is successful – and how we can intimate his success. But to be truthful – I just don’t like Donald. I rather imitate billionaires Sam Walton or Warren Buffet. Perhaps because they don’t put on “an air of show”. Warren still has modest house he lives in, which he brought on middle class wages. Sam used to stand in line at his own Wal-Mart, wear blue jeans and drive a pick up truck. Heck. Even Elliot Zuckerberg is always dressed plainly and Time just made them their man of the year.

    The real Donald probably reminds me of that recent Discover Card commercial, with the 1 – 2 man customer service operation in Siberia, with the thousands of Russian phones. I’m just guessing it’s Siberia. Donald brings to mind the second person ringing the bell, while the first one yells, “happy time.” Please note – this commercial is to show what Discover Card is not. Just as Donald is not Sam, Warren, or Mark.

    Saying that – if you did want to follow Donald’s success, you did a good job today. The three principles are very good. Your post was also good. It’s just I wished you used someone like Mark, Warren, or Sam instead.


  2. says

    It’s amazing how well the Trump properties function, and how much of a caricature the Donald personality has become.

    This juxtaposition undeniably WORKS. His hair, his personality, his charisma, they’re all kind of outrageous. Memorable. Sticky.

    And his properties–the quality is never anything short than beyond the best.

    This is, in my view, exactly what makes a perfect blog personality. Something outrageous and memorable that is nonetheless exquisite in its ability to give you what you want.

  3. says

    Thanks Julien for a interesting article, I live in the UK so we don’t get to see Donald and the American Apprentice very often they seem to start the series and then it stops half way through, but when I have seen clips he is a very interesting man. We have are own version of this show but it’s not quite as high powered. Any way thanks for the article :)

  4. says

    Cannot say I am in love with the guy, but he’s not who he is because he’s got no clues. I’ve read some of his books too and watched the Apprentice. These 3 tips are just amazing. If we learn to work at least in these 3 aspects, I think our businesses will surely improve.

  5. Archan Mehta says

    I think Donald Trump probably uses a combination approach, such as advertising, public relations, networking, apperances, events, seminars, TV shows, etc. The sum total adds to his visibility, which in turn increases his credibility in the marketplace. No wonder he is so wealthy and successful. Trump understands marketing quite well like few people do. And he has used marketing to his advantage for decades now. Thanks for this enlightening post.

  6. says

    Have to agree with Randy,… not a big fan of “the Donald”, although we may not like his persona, we can learn from him.

    I believe you share some great advice here.

    Leaders who I respect most are not self promoting as they are service focused, passionately committed to solving a particular customer problem. ”It’s not about them.”
    Thanks for the content.

    Mark Allen Roberts

  7. Marshall Adler says

    Excellent Article! Yes it is very hard to take The Donald serious but his business skills are serious and for that I think it’s great how your content highlights and entwines with him and his showmanship. For me I have a hard time breaking out of the norm. I am a “cut and paste” sort of fellow in that I prefer to know the best spots to promote rather than promote everywhere. Why?

    Insecurity I guess….I mean let’s face it; insecurity exists in the absence of knowledge!

    Great article!

    Marshall Adler

    • says

      Marshall —

      I think we each need to define for ourselves what “be everywhere” really means. I can’t imagine this overrides the need for having a niche and doing focused marketing to your target audience– after all, Trump sells to an upscale audience and so he might try to be everywhere that that audience looks. So “be everywhere” simply means do not get caught in a rut and expect everyone to trip over it and find you. :-)

      Julien —

      I attended a Trust Summit with you and Chris Brogan, and it is humble of you perhaps not to have brought in that as an example of your own “trading connections” legacy of leverage.


    • Julien says

      What the smell is really about is details and surprise. That’s what got me… seriously, I’ll never forget it.

  8. says

    I’m personally not a big Donald Trump fan. I prefer to pay attention to Mark Cuban 10 times out of 10. With that said, these are great lessons to learn from Trump. My favorite is the tip about leverage. The only problem with this is what do you do when you’re a small fry and don’t have much leverage… Julien, what’s your take on that?

    • Julien says

      Good question Joseph. I think everyone has an existing set of relationships they can work from, and they need to provide value first if they want to get taken seriously by bigger players. I try to meet people in person, then I can let my charm take over. 😉 Seriously though, meeting pople in person often makes a big difference… you’re feral to them.

        • says

          I loved this post because it sets out the three principles so succinctly and makes them “do-able” to anyone no matter how small their business.

          And I was interested in this comment and reply because yes, if you’re Donald Trump it’s easy to find others to work with, but it may seem impossible if you’re just starting out (as I once thought).

          I once read in a Joe Vitale book, that whenever you write something you have to keep Bart Simpson in mind who always says “So What? Who Cares? What’s in it for Me?” and make sure that everything you write answers these questions. I’ve found that to be invaluable information for everything whether I’m writing a book, a blog post, an article, an email, or even just a small ad.

          And I’ve approached other writers with these questions in mind and so far have co-authored two ebooks and set up interviews with other writers for next year. And it’s all thanks to remembering Bart’s questions and answering them.

          It’s pure gold!

          I never would have thought that Bart Simpson could give me the leverage I needed to move my business forward.

          Thanks again for this insightful post.

  9. says

    Yes, “the Donald”, is very controversial, but I think he can serve as a great example for the average joe. He is business smart in a very common sense kind of way. This is what I think makes him so successful. It’s really about believing in yourself, going after it (when other people just don’t have the self-confidence to do it) and building your ability to leverage. It all has to start from somewhere.

  10. says

    I will be the first to admit that I don’t care to much for Donald. But with that being said, I can appreciate tip #1. My personal mentor ALWAYS stresses the importance that every opportunity is a marketing opportunity!!! So each day, I try to get better at getting out of my comfort zone to ensure that I’m using all the marketing tools that’s available. I prefer writing but I know I need to do more video to allow folks to connect with me visually… that’s for the post!!

  11. says

    Julien, I agree with the others who have said they don’t want to be The Donald, but they’d like to emulate his flair for being memorable.

    He has done an excellent job branding himself. Despite having gone through times of financial and personal difficulty, his brand lives on and flourishes because it’s bigger than him!

  12. says

    Great post, thanks!

    RE: the hair

    I’m POSITIVE it’s like that on purpose: to provide an easy and innocent target for critics.

    Think about it: if his hair was perfect, they would have to criticise something else about him.

    Plus, people can’t identify with perfect people, at least here in Central Europe. How’bout in the US?

    The hair thing is very, VERY clever!

    • says

      That’s an interesting possibility. Always hard to tell which is greater — his capacity for self-delusion or for deluding others. :)

      I just think he has Voldemort hiding in there.

  13. says

    Great post. I especially love the don’t pay cash tip. Well done.

    Say what you want about Donald Trump and his image, everyone knows who he is and remembers him. Not to mention he is the comeback king.

  14. Rick Ryan says

    Geeeze, couldn’t you come up with a better example than Donald Trump? He’s a guy that was born on third base and has gone through life thinking he hit a triple! His father gave him millions so he could buy his first properties and now he’s an expert on how to make it big? Not in my book. Some of the points made in the article are valid, but if they’re from Trump, they’re likely not original.

  15. says

    What appears to be missing is the mention of the hundreds of souls behind the DT scene that those who would want to copy his “style” do not have . . . and never will without “oodles” of tokens to trade. These people compete 24/7 to come up with the ideas that we attribute to DT. The “behind the curtain” guys and gals are conspicuous by their absence, or does DT lay every brick and vacuum the carpets in his spare time. I wonder if he even knows how to really comb his hair!

  16. Marcy Gerena says

    Great post!

    You are correct. “Simple, effective, and unforgettable”

    He is strategic even when he speaks. The few words he speaks come out of his mouth and lands exactly where he wants it to for a reason.

  17. says

    Be Seen – Pay Smart – Smell Good
    A simple three step process and I LOVE simplicity!
    Thanks, Julien for a GREAT strategy for 2011.
    Next step, to make the step by step game plan for each

  18. says

    > that’s like being a guru on top of a mountain
    Beautiful metaphor.

    I’m a fan of being in the game. After all, life’s not a spectator’s sport. Not to mention, everybody loves their hands-on heroes.

  19. says

    I love Donald Trump and his business sense. I have read and written on him quite a bit, and though he may be over the top for some, he is effective at what he does. Can’t argue with success.

  20. says

    My favorite Trump story is from when he was selling the units in New York. A rival condo was opening for new buyers close by, and Trump had a gigantic sign made, which he hung from his own building, saying “We have the views you want.” (Trump’s NY building has truly stunning Central Park views, I stayed there once.)

    Legend has it he sold out that weekend.

    Brutally simple, brutally effective. He may be a bit of a buffoon in many ways, but he’s also got a gift for cutting to the chase.

  21. says

    “Be everywhere.”

    Great way to implement that one is to Guest Post on several well known sites :-) Great job Julien. Something I need to step up and work on executing myself.

    As for exceeding expectations, being helpful and going above and beyond the call of duty is certainly a great way to earn new fans for life!

  22. says

    I wonder if he paid cash for his hair.

    Hey, thank you for giving these three tips of what you believe were Trump’s Top Three Tips. I believe these are yours. And I I believe in these tips too.

    Keep on writing.

  23. says

    This is a great post. Gets right to the point. I saw it on twitter, bookmarked it till I had time to read it without distraction and was blown away. Lots to think about. And more importantly, lots to do.

  24. says

    Very good post. I like bringing in seemingly incongruous sources that make your point stronger by their presence. It is interesting that you suggested climbing a mountain in Bhutan since the largest collection of Bhutanese Architecture in the world is on the campus at the University of Texas El Paso where they have mountains but no Donald.

  25. says

    Julien – You made some great points in this post. I especially liked your Trump Tip number 2 “Don’t Pay Cash”. Trading chips with people that can benefit you is great advice. For example, you can write a guest post for another blog/website in order to gain access to their audience without paying any money. I see how following Trump’s formula can help you dominate your niche.

  26. says

    Maybe his hair is the best part of his brand. 😆 You want to be unique and genuine, he’s managed both. He genuinely doesn’t care what people think of his hair. 8)

    We have a similar chap in the UK ‘Alan Sugar’ who leads our version of the Apprentice. He became a millionaire with computers, but he’s now better known for his TV show.

    These are great business points to follow. Be everywhere, don’t spend any money, concentrate on quality and over deliver. You can’t go wrong, as Donald trump has proved.


  27. says

    I love this, which makes me feel better about julien.

    I had just read julien’s post at problogger about not being boring and checked out shutupandgettowork. both suggested, or seemed to suggest to me, that success requires being rude, harsh or controversial. why any of these things would certainly garner attention, it’s not the kind of attention i want. so knowing that i can also get attention by shocking people in a positive way is refreshing, because i just can’t bend to the other – and frankly, there’s nothing original at this point about snarky or harsh.

    If all else fails I’ll work on my smell.


    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  28. says

    Being everywhere online is critical because the more time that people see your name or your face, the more likely that they will visit your website. This is how relationships online get formed without you even having to do any communicating besides producing content on your blog or website.

  29. says

    Great tips! Personally, I wouldn’t want bad hair to be part of my branding, but that’s just me….

    I wonder if he wants everyone to THINK the hair was strategic, but maybe the real truth is he’s just a hair idiot, and since it worked for him PR-wise he just kept it going. One can only speculate….

  30. says

    “Exceeding expectations” is one of the things that I believe is what makes companies the strongest today. How many times do you recommend your a restaurant with impeccable service where the staff goes “above and beyond” to friends?

  31. says

    Nice tips and a new take on The Donald. The “be everywhere” is probably the biggest and most important tip and also the one that takes the most work. Network, network, network.

  32. says

    Hi Julien!

    I truly enjoyed this post of yours. Couldn’t help but smile when you did mention about ‘the hair!’

    But disturbing hairstyle or not, Donald Trump really knows how to trump up his cards in his own field. Such an amazing personality. His excesses may be too much for some but I think that’s what makes him ‘the Donald Trump’ that he is. Besides, in his world, extravagance may just be his definition of giving the utmost quality of service. That’s something we could really learn from.

  33. says

    We can learn a lot from successful people like Donald Trump.
    The “Be everywhere” is great tip and it’s also something that everybody will go like: “Yea I know that one”, but not many people will actually incorporate it into their businesses.

  34. says

    This is such a great read Julien. Thanks so much for crafting this out.
    I am so down with being strategic in everything we do as entrepreneurs. Everything really is leverage.
    Being everywhere also is a great tip, to be seen, you really have to put yourself out there and be in the eyes of those you seek to influence or reach. One also useful tip, is putting your personality into your brand. Donald and Richard Branson are two unusual entrepreneurs who creatively know how to do this very well.

    Thanks for the tips once again Julien, I am reading your book “Trust Agents” for the second time this year, you both did an awesome work. Can’t wait for your second book together!

  35. Rich Boyd says

    This very blog post utilizes the embodied principles. I started at a blurb about ‘The Donald’ on Alltop (Robert Kiyosaki) which took me to a blog post by Chris Brogan, which referenced Julien and the book they’re writing together (on Brogan’s blog), which brought me here. That’s a lot of chip trading. I guess that makes this post a big rake. Artful.

  36. says

    short and to the point – this is the exact strategy that people need to follow to be successful – many will fail few will succeed – welcome to the “american dream”

  37. says

    I like tip #2 about not paying cash! I use to own a website that sold children’s clothing and I would pay for keywords or advertising. Didn’t really help. I recently started a blog about saving money and finding the best deals. I think doing guest blogging is the best way to get your name out there. The best part is that it doesn’t involve money!! If you interested in saving money check it out!

  38. says

    Julien, excellent post.
    I think your third point is the most powerful and easiest to overlook. Outstanding success comes from the details, because that is where most people stop. The details are what will surprize your customers most, what demonstrates how much you care and know your craft. It sends the strongest and loudest signal about who you are as a person and a business. And that’s what people will talk about.

  39. says

    Hello Julien, What an amazing post. choc full of inspiration. Regardless of the negativity slung at him, he always comes up “Trumps”. I like his 3 simple principles and will try to emulate them. Ditto Thomas Moradpour’s comment.

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