Don’t just set up and stand back and wait! #BBCcapprentice

I have not been impressed with this years Apprentice! Though this has not stopped me watching it even though I have done so sometimes half way through, fingers over eyes and at stages muted the TV.

Last year I wrote about the Apprentice after each episode but this year I have struggled to write more than a couple of posts. I did however know that I should write about the marketing task. However as I sat watching the episode last night I did feel other than ranting about their general stupidty and failure to address the task what could I say?

Sleep though is great for the grey old cells and when I woke up this morning I knew exactly what I wanted to say on the 2012 BBC Apprentice marketing task. So here are my thoughts.

Now that I have thought about it. The BBC Apprentice teams were no different from many businesses that I have met over the years. The set it up and sit back brigade who think that marketing is all about setting up systems and then watch the customers flood through the door. So in the days when advertising was key the sit back brigade would put an advert in the paper and wait for customers. Or if they were in the tourism industry they would join the tourist board and yes wait for customers. Today the sit back brigade like the Apprentice candidates create a website and sit back and wait for customers. Or learn you need a Facebook and Twitter presence and set it up and yes what do they do? Yes sit back and wait for customers.

As the Apprentice showed last night it simply doesn’t work. The task was quite simple to sell English sparkling wine to a NEW AUDIENCE! And it was suggested that they did so by setting up a website, creating a video and using social media. So what did the candidates do? They set up a website, created a video and added social media logos to their website. In other words they set up and stood back and assumed by doing to they would sell sparking wine! Wrong!

Marketing can be made to sound technical and some creative dark art! It’s not its simply communication something we humans have always done! It’s no different really from communicating on a daily basis. We have a voice and can use it but unless we do and do so on a regular basis nobody knows what we are thinking or feeling. And in any relationship you need to listen, communicate and take time to build a relationship with people! Marketing is no different it’s about communicating with your customers! And it’s a two-way relationship.

Rudyard Kipling’s 5 questions are a great tool to use when starting out on a marketing campaign. You want to ask:

  • Who you are marketing to?
  • Where will your customers come from?
  • What the customers wants from your product and also what the competition are doing
  • Why should the customer buy from you?
  • How are you going to communicate with your customers?


The BBC Apprentice candidates did not address the first four points they only looked at the how and that is why they didn’t fulfill the brief as it was to look for new customers and neither team did so. They also failed on the how too. As I have said it is not about just setting up and standing back it is also about communication. So they set up a website the next question to ask is how are you going to get customers to that site and how are you going to get them coming back on a regular basis? You have set up a video (will not comment on how dreadful they were they spoke for themselves or as Lord Sugar said “truly awful”). How are you going to use that video to get to your customers and how? Are you going to use U tube, add comments to relevant internet and blog sites. You set up social media symbols on your website. But how are you going to draw traffic to your website using social media and also use social media as a great communication tool to create awareness of your sparkling wine!

It’s a shame they didn’t grasp the social media element of this task! I would have loved to have shown them that on Twitter they could have followed customers of rival products, wine clubs, wedding organisers and venues, up market Hotels. The list is endless. You don’t then sit back though! You communicate show the quality of your product and your expertise! That way you create awareness of your product to new customers and I can tell you it will bring you business.

But not if you set up and stand back and wait for customers to flood through the door! Communication is what marketing is about! So don’t set up and stand back be pro active and communicate!



About fionadranesblog

40 plus mum of two married with a mad cocker spaniel. Along with two colleagues run Bright Light Marketing a rural marketing agency who specialise in getting rural businesss noticed. Live in St Boswells in the wonderful Scottish Borders. Love books, walking and living life to the full here in the Scottish Borders though its sometimes a juggle!
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