The Apprentice teaches us another lesson in marketing

Week 2 of the Apprentice saw the teams challenged to design and market an app for a smart ‘phone. The winning team would be the one that got the most downloads.

To most people’s astonishment the girl’s team won. Why? Because they got the fundamental rule of marketing right, they designed a product that a big enough audience wanted.

On the face of it it was the boys who got the marketing right. Their presentation wowed the audience at a UK fair. They created a buzz and engaged with their prospects. They bribed people with doughnuts. They got two influential websites to feature their app. Their words seemed enticing.

Meanwhile the girls did a lack lustre presentation. They didn’t capture the imagination at the fair. Even they thought they’d lost. However they did get featured on the most influential ezine.

When it came to the final figures the girls’ stats blew the boys right out of the water. The girls had designed an app which had a more global appeal and their marketing copy described the benefits of the app in the first sentence. The boys on the other hand had designed an app which some saw as potentially offensive and their copy sold the name not the benefit.

So what are the lessons we can take into our own businesses?

  • Ensure a big enough market wants your product or service
  • Tell people immediately how they will benefit from that product or service. Answer the question ‘What’s in it for me?’
  • It doesn’t matter how clever your marketing is, if the product is wrong people won’t buy it
  • Look at your product or service from the customer’s point of view, what might concern them? Could it be seen as offensive, discriminatory or out of date?
  • Prospects are not interested in your name until they are interested in your product so use persuading copy to convince them first and then tell them who you are.

It will be interesting to see how this series of the Apprentice develops with its new emphasis on starting a business. I suspect there will be more lessons featured in future blog posts. If you missed this episode it is available on BBC iPlayer.

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