Marketing, the Apprentice, and the hard sell.

I don’t know about you, but I get really excited when a new series of the Apprentice kicks off.  I can’t believe some of the applicants – there seems to be a requirement for brash, in-your-face young entrepreneurs, so full of themselves and convinced that they know everything there is to know about marketing and that they will be the next Apprentice.

The first programme got off to a storming start, with Lord Sugar setting a task that required the candidates to stay up all night making a range of sausages from the raw materials, and then selling them in the market throughout the next day – no wonder they all looked shattered!  

The boys team, aptly named Synergy (= defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently), decided to take the cheap option and fill their sausages with the minimum amount of meat, padded out with rusk.  The girls team (Apollo – motto “failure is not an option”) decided to go for the more gourmet sausages.

In one scene from the first programme, Stuart Baggs (aka ‘The Brand’) was seen giving potential customers the hard sell.  When customers declined his advances he resorted to verbally abusing them.  Surprise, surprise, he didn’t sell many sausages!

I hate to be hassled – I once spent three weeks touring North Africa and couldn’t wait to return to dear old blighty – and the hard sell just doesn’t work on me.  I guess that many people feel the same way about this approach to marketing.  But isn’t this exactly what so-called ‘marketeers’ are trying to do when they fill our in-boxes with un-requested emails, all promising to make our fortune in less time than it takes to boil a kettle of water?

If the power is in the list, then the real key to that power is the relationships that we manage to develop with our potential customers.  We need to nurture them, develop trust and respect, and then introduce them to products that are suited to their needs and of sufficiently high quality.

At the end of the show, Lord Sugar was torn between firing Baggs and his unfortunate team leader.  Eventually Baggs managed to survive, although the comments made by Lord Sugar suggested that he is hanging on by the skin of his teeth.  It will be interesting to see how he survives in future episodes!

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