13 June, 2013
Every series of The Apprentice delivers unbearable examples of young, thrusting entrepreneurs failing entirely to realise that to sell things, you need to know who your customers are.
Last night’s episode saw one of the worst ever blunders. Kurt and Alex, having clocked the fact that the caravanning show they were to sell at was visited largely by those aged above 50, opted to flog a retro camper van which – and this was made quite clear to them – appeals to those in the 35-45 bracket. Why did they choose the camper van? Because they both liked it.
Cut to the boardroom, and – what a surprise – Kurt’s team sold no camper vans and lost the task by a staggering £30k.
Usually the candidates’ customer-related mistakes are a touch more subtle – ignoring market research, developing a new product without defining a clear target market, or creating an ad campaign aimed at the wrong demographic.
The problem they have is an inability to put themselves in another’s shoes, to think like someone other than themselves.
Good marketing and communications isn’t about zany ‘out of the box’ ideas. It’s about understanding people. Get that right, and the strategic and creative insights follow.
As for the remaining Apprentice pinstripes, my advice: Enjoy the freedom of realising you are, in fact, not the centre of the universe. It might just help you do better in business.