Posted: Sat 3rd Nov 2018
The Apprentice is a show that I've always wanted to watch, but have never managed to. So when Enterprise Nation asked for people to blog about business lessons from the show I jumped at the chance, happy to have an excuse to watch TV for an hour!
This week's challenge was a cruel combination of design, marketing and sales, testing the contestants on many different skills. The task was to create a unique shoe design for ladies, run a launch event and sell as many pairs as possible to retailers.
Without further ado, let's leap into the business lessons.
Customer before concept.
Both teams this week rushed to decide what their shoe would look like and pick a launch event theme before thinking about who they were selling to. Rushing to concept like this meant that their intended customers didn't like the design and both teams had to change strategy.
This is a common business mistake; you think that your idea is fantastic, the best ever. Then you create your product or service and try to sell it but it flops and nobody wants to buy. Why is that? Because you didn't think about who you were designing the product or service for.
At Kimba Digital Marketing the first question we ask a potential client is 'who is your customer?' This helps us determine where you should be marketing your product or service.
You also need to think about where a product is placed on a scale of 'want' vs 'need'. Are you creating the kind of shoe that people need to buy or the kind of shoe that people desire? What age group are your shoes for and what is their particular set of needs?
By answering as many questions as you can about the customer first and identifying all of the problems or desires they might have, you can then tailor your product or service to them. This should lead to more sales.
Ask the important questions early.
Both teams failed to ask some fundamental questions until far too late. This is easily done, but can be fatal.
For team Fleekies this resulted in last minute design changes and a shoe that not everyone in the team was on board with. Had the group considered the question 'Would you wear this shoe?' earlier, they might have created a better design that that the whole team liked.
Team nu:switch started with a bright carnival idea which turned into a Barbie-pink bow design. If the team had questioned Sian's vision a bit more thoroughly before the team was split into two, they would have had a clearer concept which was easier to implement.
Prepare to pivot.
Fleekies and nu:switch both completely misjudged who their shoe would appeal to, meaning that they had to quickly re-evaluate their game plan.
After doing some market research it became apparent that team Fleekies' 'Out Out' appealed to an older demographic and nu:switch needed to aim their shoes at a much younger audience.
Getting feedback from potential customers allows you to make these slight pivots giving you greater control of your success.
If you don't ask you don't get.
Despite issues with design and customer targeting for Fleekies, one person really hammered the sales. Jackie managed to single-handedly sell around £50,000 worth of their design. One retailer wanted to buy 500 pairs for his 50 stores. Jackie highlighted a few reasons why he might consider buying a few more pairs. He instantly increased his order to 2,000. Just by asking the question Jackie increased their order by four times. Reminding us that sometimes you simply have to ask the question!
It is said that it is easier to get sales from existing customers than new ones, so why not ask the question? Let them know about your full range of products or services and ask if they or anyone they know could benefit from something you provide.
I bet you never expected a task at the end of this. Good luck!
Message me through my Enterprise Nation profile to let me know how it goes.