Every Dog Has Its Day (But Only If They Listen To Their ‘Masters’)

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More Small Business Lessons from The Apprentice. This week: Research

The advertising/marketing task is always a favourite of mine for obvious reasons and while this year didn’t deliver a ‘pants man’ level campaign to ridicule, it has to be said that both products and campaigns were pretty dire.

I actually thought the idea of the Catsize product was quite good, at least they identified a niche and a need in the market, but the ‘Show their light/show they’re light/you know what I mean they ARE light and they also HAVE light….’ Slogan was just awful: it conjured up weird images of floating, glowing cats with strange iridescent eyes. OK, just me then. Team Venture was only saved by the fact that as bad as their marketing was it was trumped by how ill thought out Team Logic’s core product was and let’s face it; if your product idea isn’t right and has no market then no amount of clever marketing will save it.

Having conducted market research and been informed, by industry experts AND consumers, that a single product for all dogs was not viable they listened carefully, took their comments on board and… created a single product for all dogs. It hardly seems necessary for me to go on.

The Value of Marketing Insight

The lesson here for us, and you don’t need to be a marketing expert to realise this, is a) conduct market research to make sure you identify a market and can create a product that meets their needs and b) LISTEN TO IT! The trap that many small businesses fall into, and this is largely to do with budget, is to fail to conduct proper research. It is therefore a cardinal sin to have done the right things – conducted proper research and have genuine industry insight – and then ignore it! Actually, not just ignore it but create something that directly contradicts it! *bangs head on desk*

Creating a Niche

I am aware that most of these small business lessons seem to be based on not making the same mistakes that the Apprentices make so to redress the balance and take something positive from the show we can learn from Team Venture and how they used market insight – the fact that over half the cat population of the UK is overweight – and created a product to meet a genuine need. It goes without saying that this needs to be the basis for any product or service: if you have no market you have no proposition.

Another lesson we can learn from Vincent is ‘choose your loyalties carefully’ – I have no doubt that Jim would not have afforded him the same courtesy!

Quote of the week: Lord Sugar “I don’t know about Team Logic, you should be branded Team Tragic”

Apprentice Buzzwords

Footnote: I am also enjoying the Apprentice buzz words (we get them every year – the overused pat phrases they come out with to make themselves sound business-like!). So far we have ‘I’ve taken your comments on board’ (translates as ‘your idea is rubbish’), ‘I’m taking a decision on that’ (translates as ‘I’m the boss, and your idea is rubbish’) and ‘I have serious reservations about that’ (translates as ‘I’m hedging my bets for the boardroom in case it turns out to be wrong, and your idea is rubbish’). Keep listening out for these and any new ones that start to crop up over the next few weeks!

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