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Haters: Your Best Form of Free Advertising

Haters: Your Best Form of Free Advertising

How did Donald Trump get $2.6 billion dollars of free advertising from the media during his 2016 presidential campaign?
Did the media want him to win?
Of course not.
Trump mastered an unusual skill: creating haters. He got free publicity from the people who hated him most.
He’s been using this technique for decades, long before he ran for president.
And you can use the exact same technique to create 100% free advertising as well.

The Donald’s Been Doing It Forever

In 1986, Trump’s company won a contract from the city of New York to repair and refurbish the Wollman Skating Rink. The city had tried – and failed – to repair the rink for years. Trump decided he wanted the contract. So he started talking.

No, let me correct that.  He started mocking.

He didn’t mock people though; he mocked the system that allowed all previous rebuilding projects to be massive failures.

He intentionally inflamed the passions of both supporters and detractors.

These tactics generated tons of free publicity. Pressure mounted on the city. He won the contract.

And once the project was done, (he completed the project 30% early and 25% under budget), he credited his success to “good management.”

Free publicity combined with a quality product is a powerful combination.

You Can Fight Human Nature, But You Can’t Win

Trump never paid for advertising. He just created some haters and let them talk about him as much as they wished. In fact, he fed them new subjects just to keep them talking.

His haters believed their words discredited him. They were wrong.

He knows his target audience. Haters are a central part of his marketing  strategy.

If Trump didn’t upset people, then they wouldn’t have been so eager to discredit him. In their eagerness to debunk him, they had to talk about him.

This strategy worked in the city of New York in the 80s. It worked in the campaign of 2016. And it works today.

Like some weird outer space creature from a bad Star Trek episode, Trump would absorb negative energy from his enemies and use it to grow stronger. And even though their efforts failed, his haters wouldn’t stop giving him free advertising.

In fact, they couldn’t stop themselves from talking about him. Why wouldn’t they just stop?

If you’ve followed me for any time at all, you know why they couldn’t stop: human beings are not rational.

Method in the Madness

The reason some people can’t stop talking about The Donald is because they can’t stand him.

It’s almost as if he makes outlandish statements on purpose.

We’re taught from an early age to play nice and not make waves. We’re taught to not make people dislike us. It sounds smart, and it’s wrong.

If you want people to talk about you, then you need haters. You need some people who dislike you so much that they can’t help but tell the world how awful you are.

I call this special class of people anti-customers.

One anti-customer is worth a hundred loyal-yet-silent customers.

Why is that true?

Because anti-customers careAnti-customers feel compelled to talk about you. Their passion drives them to speak out against you. And what happens when anti-customers rail against you?

Ah, that’s when you seize the moment and make the magic happen. Here’s how.

How to Leverage the Passion of Your Haters

Isaac Newton explained how it works:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The passionate intensity passion of your anti-customers compells an equally intense reaction from your existing customers.

Anti-customers increase the passion of Customers.

The more some people talk smack about you, the more your loyalists speak out to protect you.

“Average” customers get irritated with the antics of anti-customers. They feel compelled to speak out on your behalf and try to drown out the negative voices.

And your truly loyal customers charge to your defense like Mel Gibson attacking the English swine in Braveheart.

It’s just human nature.

You’ll reap the benefits. Customers are talking about you. Anti-customers are talking about you. Prospects are hearing about you. Interest in you is building.

At that point, all you gotta do is deliver a decent product or service at a fair price.

The Care and Feeding of Anti-Customers

There’s a right way and a wrong way to create and provoke your anti-customers. This is where business diverges a little from politics.

In politics, you can successfully create anti-customers by attacking people as well as ideas.

That’s not true in business.

Only attack ideas, systems, programs and products. Never attack people.

Your attack begins with your manifesto.  (You do have a manifesto, don’t you?)

“A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.”

This is no bloodless corporate Vision Statement. This is your line in the sand. It is an intentional provocation. In fact, the word “manifesto” is from the latin phrase manu festus which means “struck by hand.” It implies action, passion, and impatience.

Your manifesto should be hot-blooded, full of fire and fury. You don’t have time to lay out a reasonable argument. You’re in a hurry to change the world, and you won’t concern yourself with insignificant details.

In your urgency, you “strike by hand” your thoughts, beliefs, hopes and dreams for the future.

Your manifesto is the verbal equivalent of a molotov cocktail tossed through the open window of the status quo. It is intended to explode, burn and leave a mark. It is not intended to be nuanced, reasonable or even possible.

In fact, any manifesto worth reading will be entirely unreasonable.

Build Your Manifesto and Buckle Up

A good manifesto has three parts:

  1. Denounce the Problem(s) with the Status Quo
  2. Pronounce the Glorious Future, (once the problems of the status quo are fixed)
  3. Announce the Actions you are taking to make that future vision a reality.

You must demonize the enemy, (whatever that may be). You must turn molehills into mountains. You must not worry about the details of execution. What matters is the passion and urgency of your mission. You must issue a call to all right-minded folk to join you in your glorious mission.

Do that with your manifesto. Publish it far and wide, and you will create loyal fans. Even better, you will create loyal anti-customers.


One final word: make sure you publicize all the nasty things anti-customers say about you. Send an email to your fans saying “look what they said about me”, and then copy and paste their mean words. This will galvanize your supporters to ride to your defense.

Remember to thank them – publicly and humbly – for their support. And when you are counting the additional profits, remember to credit it all to “good management.” Just like The Donald.