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The Apprentice: 5 Lessons in Marketing

By Wayne Po
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Donald Trump's hit reality show, The Apprentice is a godsend for marketers around the world.


Because all of the tasks that the prospective apprentice's go through each week and each season involves some sort of marketing skills. So, the Apprentice is a great media channel to show how important marketing is in everyday business and especially if you want to be successful in business.

So, here are some fundamental lessons that we can all learn from the Apprentice:

Lesson 1: Give the client what they want.

In the first season of the show, the Girls team came up with a risque and provocative ad campaign compared to the Men's team which came up with something safe and conservative.

The Girls team's advertising campaign won because they followed a fundamental rule of marketing: ask the client what they want and deliver it to them.

The best way to get your client(s) to buy what you have to offer is to give them what they want. The men's team lost simply because they "guessed" what the client was looking for instead of spending the time to meet and ask questions of the client and deliver what the client wanted.

Lesson 2: Sell and market what you know; and sell a product and service that you can truly stand behind

In another task, the two teams had to choose an artist and help sell that artist’s artwork.

The winning team kept it simple and chose an artist who’s work they liked. The losing team chose an artist who’s work was rather controversial and which they didn’t understand themselves.

Ultimately, because the losing team didn’t have any clue what the artwork was about and because they didn’t even like the work themselves, they couldn’t effectively sell it.

If you have no confidence in your product or if you don't understand your product, you will have a tough time selling it to other people if you can't even sell yourself on the product. Customers can sense that you don't have any confidence in your product, once they sense that you may as well pack it in.

Lesson 3: Find different ways to create new revenue streams from your existing business

In the "Rickshaw task", the winning team knew that they could not solely rely on revenue streams simply from offering rides in a rickshaw.

They diversified and made optimum use of their assets to create multiple revenue streams by also selling advertising space on the rickshaw. The revenue generated from selling the advertising space was what sealed the win.

This way you mitigate your risks if one revenue stream is suddenly negatively affected you don’t go broke.

Lesson 4: Price it right

In the 2nd season, the guys team won the QVC task because of price. The women lost simply because they overpriced. In another example, the men lost in the fashion design task again, because their pricing was simply out of whack with what the buyers were looking for.

Price too low and you lose. Price too high and you lose. No one can give you a simple formula for getting the right price for your product or service so it’s up to you test and choose the optimal price for your product or service.

Lesson 5: 80/20 Pareto Principle

Going back to the rickshaw task, how did the winning team manage to sell advertising in such a short period of time? They went straight to the businesses they already had relationships with.

You have a higher chance of generating sales if you concentrate on selling and marketing and generating more revenue out of the clients and prospects you already have existing relationships with. The 80/20 Pareto principle.

So, no matter what you think of Donald Trump and reality shows, there are lots of lessons to be learned from reality tv.

Copyright © 2004. Ethan Hathaway.

About the Author
Wayne Po, is the Founder and Marketing Consultant of Ethan Hathaway ( A virtual consultancy that helps small to medium sized B2B businesses increase their revenues through effective marketing communications.

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