Marketing Information

Marketing Lessons From TV's The Apprentice

Can we actually learn a marketing lesson from reality TV? In the case of Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" I'd say we can.

Advertising and marketing are creative disciplines. That's one reason I love working in marketing. Finding creative solutions that help clients sell their products and services is a fun way to make a living. Creativity is one of the great things about the marketing industry. But I'd argue it can also be its downfall. Too often I see marketers going way too far with their ideas of "creativity."

In my opinion it is certainly possible to be too creative for your own good. What exactly do I mean by that? Let me share a very public example to explain.

My example comes from the reality television show, "The Apprentice." Okay, so I admit it, I LOVE that show. I'm not much of a reality TV fan, but there's something about watching these teams compete on business challenges week in and week out that intrigues and entertains me.

Quite often they are given marketing-related tasks on the show. Let's face it, marketing is one of THE most important jobs you'll ever have in business. If you can do it well, your business will more than likely do well. If you can't market well, your business is in trouble.

In a recent episode of "The Apprentice" the task was to create a TV commercial for Dove Body Wash. The teams were instructed to come up with an "out of the box" 30-second television spot to promote the product. The result?

Both teams created garbage! The ideas behind both spots were bizarre, they didn't feature the product the way someone would actually use it, and they weren't targeted at women, the primary audience for Dove Body Wash. I guess some may argue they certainly did think "out of the box" creatively and both teams certainly tried to justify that's what they did, but in the end, they failed miserably at their number one task: to sell the product!

And that's what I think happens to many marketers who try to be too creative. They lose sight of the fact their job is to sell a product or service. To do that effectively, your marketing has to be one word: relevant. You can be as clever or creative as you want, but in the end if your marketing is not relevant to the product AND to those who are most likely to buy it, you have failed.

Look, I realize we have to be creative to capture our audience's attention. After all we are trying to cut through a sea of marketing clutter. Consumers are bombarded with somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 marketing message every day. That's a lot to break through!

I just wish more marketers tried harder to connect with their audience vs. simply entertain them. Heck, I sometimes wonder if marketers even know who their audience is. This definitely came into play in The Apprentice with both teams showing men using Dove Body Wash in their commercials. C'mon, it doesn't take a lot of sense to recognize this product is for women! But because they were so focused on being clever, they lost sight of this very basic fact.

If I can leave you with one thought it is this: Identify and know your audience and then aim to connect with them in a relevant way. Your goal should be to jump into the conversation they are already having in their head about your product or service category. If you can do this, you will be effective in capturing their attention AND selling your product or service.

Copyright 2005 Debbie LaChusa

20-year marketing veteran, consultant, author, teacher and coach Debbie LaChusa, has developed The 10stepmarketing System to help small business owners successfully market their business, themselves. To learn more about this simple, step-by-step program and to sign up for her FREE audio class and FREE weekly ezine featuring how-to articles, tips and advice, visit

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