Know me. Like me. Trust me. Buy from me.

That's always been my motto when it comes to growing a business. When people get to know you and like you, they learn to trust you. And winning that trust is the most important part of generating sales.

So if you can make everyone like you, you should be able to generate lots of sales. Marketing should be about being as pleasant as possible to as many people as possible so that they can all become customers.

But it doesn't really work that way. You can never connect with everyone, and if this election cycle has taught us anything, it's that you can do very well not being liked by everyone.

Hillary Clinton's unfavorability ratings have been second only to one person to run for the presidency: her rival Donald Trump. While there has been a shift, his ratings have managed to peak at no less than 70 percent.

At one point, up to seven out of ten people in polls have said that they don't like him. And yet he went into the first debate neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton. Watch footage of any one of his rallies and you'll see thousands of people who don't just like him; they love him. Whatever you think of Trump, his ideas, or his temperament, you can't deny that he manages to engage his audience in a way that Hillary Clinton just doesn't.

He could have acted like her. He could have done exactly what every other politician does. He could have put on a false front and tried not to annoy anyone. But you know that the Donald Trump you see on the screen, and he's on the screen several times every day, is the real Donald Trump. There's nothing inauthentic about him at all.

People either like him or hate him, and those that like him like him a lot.

Now, Trump hasn't actually been a builder for a long time. He's now a brand. He gets paid for licensing his name to other people's properties in the same way that Michael Jordan gets paid to put his name on shoes. Even though he's such a controversial figure, his brand remains tremendously valuable.

There's a lesson there for every business and for every brand. Companies usually try to spread their net as wide as possible. They're nice to everyone and hope that a lot of people will like them just enough. The success of Donald Trump's brand shows that it can be possible to risk alienating people. You can turn your back on some people you might want as customers if you end up turning towards those people who really do want to be your customers.

When those people feel that you're genuinely on their side, think like them and are part of their lives, you'll win the kind of engagement that will make it very easy for them to buy what you're selling.

You're not going to be liked by everyone, but Donald Trump's success has shown that authenticity and engagement beats general likeability when it comes to brand-building.

Published on: Oct 3, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.