Sunday, April 10, 2005

Marketing Lessons from 'The Apprentice'

Yes, it's true, I watch 'The Apprentice'. And, while I'm not a fan of so-called reality shows, this one does catch my interest.

No matter how you feel about reality shows or Donald Trump, there are some lessons we can learn from this show. Here are a couple that have come to my mind recently.

Know Your Market

Last week the project was to design hi-tech clothing (obviously aimed at a younger market than yours truly). One of the teams went right to clothing stores and talked to kids who were shopping there. The other team picked what they thought kids in this demographic were looking for.

Well, right away, we can see who failed the first test. Clearly we need to communicate with our potential customers to discover what they want, what they think, how they feel about what we're offering them.

It's easy for me to sit back and watch someone else make the mistake and think I'm a genius for seeing their error.

But, I know many of us are guilty of the same thing. We get so focused on what we're doing and we get tunnel-vision. Because we're 100% focused on our (make that OUR) product, we can forget that our customers might have something different in mind.

So, lesson one is talk to your potential customers. Get inside their heads BEFORE you decide how to promote your product or service to them.

A Good Presentation Pays

At the end of the project, the two teams presented their clothing. From what I could tell they looked pretty equal in quality and style. But the losing team fell apart when their presenter choked. She was hesitant, unsure of herself and exuded no energy or confidence as she presented their products. It was painful watching her.

Now, I'm not saying we should focus everything on the presentation. In Texas I believe they describe that kind of person as being 'all hat and no cattle'. But, if you have a quality product or service, it deserves a good showing. And, if you have a mediocre product, a dazzling presentation can do wonders for it.

For my money, the lesson here is, make your presentation appropriate to your market. Dazzle them if the market wants to be dazzled. If the market is more conservative and subdued, then present accordingly. In general though, all presentations (whether in person or through media) should show confidence and energy.

Show Your Product in Many Ways

This season, I have noticed some of the commercials during the show tend to promote the same company or product the teams are working on. I have heard some media critics whine about this as a sign of "selling out".

I disagree. I think it's a great idea. If the teams are working on a product for Pepsi, why not promote Pepsi products during the show. One week they were selling pizzas. And, of course, many of the commercials airing were promoting pizza. Do you think more people ate pizza that night than on an average Thursday night?

This concept goes to the heart of local marketing. The more ways your potential customers see your product, the more they will remember it. And, the great credibility you develop with them.

So, our third (and final) lesson for today's show is to deliver your message to your target market in as many ways as you can within the constraints of your budget.

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