Friday, December 21, 2012

The final run in! Happy Holidays:)

The final run in! The final task for our four finalists was to create a new brand of sports wear, designed to go global. They then had to pitch it in an event to industry experts. This task took place in Manchester, home to the most valuable sports clubs in the world! The candidates were split in to two teams, they both got “helpers”, candidates that were fired earlier in the process. Ashley and Lucy against Patrick and the ever so loud Maria. Ashley and Lucy chose street wear. Ashley then went to a street wear center to meet with a focus group, she truly paid attention to what was said and did read between the lines what it is youngsters are looking for in a brand. It proved important also when it later came to key decisions regarding the brand going global. Release was born with the tag line: Strive- merge- achieve. To make sure the logo can be taken overseas, the R was central because it’s recognizable and can be used in many languages. I thought it was very cleverly done! Hard to believe these are two 16 year old girls! They chose their brand to stand for ethics . The street dancers said they don’t want just another empty brand name, they are looking for someone that cares and would give back to the street so to speak. Patrick and Maria chose to re brand cycling, making it young and hip and so, CYC was born with the tag line: Lead the way. Time to make a marketing plan! Both teams chose to make a viral video and use social media. Patrick decided to use a choir- He asked them spill in to a busy shopping mall in small groups as shoppers turn singers. At the end, they spelled out the brand ‘s name. Looking to reach young, urban and cool crowd, using a choir with an average age 35 was risky. Its a shame they were not dressed the same, the brand wasn’t visible enough to everyone. Only at the end, the people looking from above could see their name. Ashley went with a team of street dancers to the park, looking release them so to speak on unsuspecting people and then film them joining in. It was a struggle for a while but it was a fun video in the end and most important, showcased the brand perfectly. Time to brand and launch their cloths, they could choose from unbranded sports wear fitting their brand. Top professionals were going to be assessing them from Adidas to Rio Ferdinand to global marketing experts. Both gave a good fashion show and a good pitch. CYC’s issues with the professionals was the use of the choir and how it connects to the brand itself or rather the lack of it, the fact they used a student that has little money as their example so what does that say about the quality? How big is the potential to go global. For Release it was about how to translate the logo globaly, the uniqueness regarding street wear in general and how to fund the brand’s charity work. Release won! The final deciding factor between the ladies was what they plan to do with the money. While Lucy was planning to go to law school with it which by the way, was a bit strange since this is a business apprenticeship, Ashley had a solid plan in mind for either an accounting firm or a real estate management company. This made her the winner! And a very worthy one in my view. 12 candidates, 1 apprentice! I wish you all a very merry Xmas and an exciting and successful 2013! Kind regards, Diti.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The final candidates!

Did you know that selling at music festivals in the UK, all 800 of them, is a billion pounds business?! This week the candidates received 1,500 pounds from Lord Sugar to buy two products and sell them at one of the biggest music festivals- Womad. The teams had to choose two out of eight possible products and had one day to sell as hard as they could. This was a commercial task, each getting a personal chance though to shine by selling. Odessey was led by Lucy, they made serious mistakes from the get go... When going to meet the designers of each product they thought would sell the best, they completely forgot the basics of negotiations and how to deal with artistic types. There was no polite introduction, enthusiasm about the products or even a demo. They came right to the point of negotiating a better price, coming off rude and even cold. Second fatal mistake was their choice of products! A self powered washing machine...people come to a three day festival, surely they are not going to say: Hey, I missed Bruce Springsteen singing because I was doing my laundry... People bring enough cloths with them to such events. The team completely missed the fun aspect of the event. Platinum was led by Patrick, they didn’t choose their products too well either. Though they had a good slogan for it- Would anyone like to sit down? The portable (cardboard) toilets did not match this event. This is not really camping and it turned out the organizers offered very good facilities.. Patrick chose the seat umbrella with out thinking it’s summer, on the day it was very hot. Though both teams did their market research, they didn’t really used it. Andrew for Odessey went to the mall where no one would speak to him, Ashley went to the right area- Camden town but the PM decided to book the products before hearing the results. So, after Odessey lost the portable toilet (blessing in disguise) they chose the washing machine and the animal funzies. Platinum went with their original choice since the designers of the products loved their attitude and believed they could sell them well, even though they bid less then the other team! It was a victory in it’s self! On the day it took a while but Andrew soon realized the washing machine is more about real camping comfort and this event is too short term, he joined the rest of the team in selling the wanzies. Too bad though the pricing was more about random numbers just thrown out there with no real thought. Patrick made the same pricing mistake with the toilets, they were really over priced and therefore not sold! The umbrella did surprisingly well considering the heat, mean while, the only reason they did sell some of the toilets was Maria going around selling them for any price. Results... Both teams choose items that did not fit the type of people going to this festival! They completely missed the target group- hippies..They missed the no brainer products which were the perfect items for such an occasion- impulse purchases! Such as the solar hats or organic face paint. Odyssey's mistakes proved to be more fatal then Platinum and they lost the task. Unfortunately this was a double firing, only Lucy survived the cut. Lord Sugar did give Andrew and Steve both his business card and told them both to stay in touch! Cool! The final is coming... Stay tuned! Diti.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lizard king or Très chic?

Week 6: This week Lord Sugar asked the teams to create a hair product, brand it, create a TV ad and pitch it to the industry’s top executives. Did you know that hair products are a 2 million pound a year business?! This week Andrew and Maria could not escape it any longer and were appointed project managers, time to put their money where their mouth is! Andrew leading Odessey, was struggling from the get go. No creative ideas were put forward and so much time was wasted during the early stages that later, at the crucial stages of the process they had to make rash decisions and almost missed their deadline. They decided to aim for the men market creating hair gel, they started throwing names out there and came up with chameleon as their top priority. They met up with a focus group which was a boy’s band, the members of the band disliked all the names except chameleon. Coming back to join the rest of the team, it was pointed out many times over that there is a contradiction here- They wanted their brand to stand out from the rest but chose an animal that remains in the background and adapts to the surroundings. Strange enough Andrew decides to instead of start over, to adjust his message: The gel that adapts to you and continued using the name chameleon. Maria leading Platinum went for the female market creating hair spray. The creative process here was faster and very quickly Ashley came up with the name Strexy- Strong and Sexy! They went to their focus group a girl band and got good feedback. Time to move on to design and branding. Both teams went to the supermarkets to see what other brands were doing, what colors they were using ectra. Odessey chose neon green with an image of a chameleon, their TV ad was shot at the swimming pool. The point of their ad was three different guys, three different unique styles. At the last minute Andrew decided to add the comedy touch and be cheeky or so he thought, the last guy walked out with toilet paper stuck to his shoe..oh the horror! To describe Platinum's product and ad in one word would be- tacky! Tiger print using pink (but of course..) This was a clear decision on Maria’s part to make it tacky. When shooting the ad in the boxing ring there was a clear power struggle between Maria and Ashley, leading to confusion and irritation among the professionals shooting it and the hired actors. The story was about two guys boxing, harassing the girl so she puts the spray in her hair and kicks guy ass as a result. Time to pitch- Platinum did a good job presenting their in your face product. It was deliberately tacky but it did stand out which caught the attention of the retailers. Nevdeep pitched for Odessey and did a poor job and therefore, did not really sell their brand. The executives now met Lord Sugar to split hairs with him regarding the winner... The boardroom was very tense, two issues came up almost immediately- Chameleon- Wanting to stand out by using an animal that blends in! Platinum- Having a very tacky cheap looking product might be a turn off. For Odessey the clear contradiction, added confusion combined with an un attractive ad was a bust. The executives thought the toilet paper joke made a joke of the person, saying yes you have the gel and style and still you’re a joke, sending the wrong message completely. It looked like each guy when walking into the swimming pool’s locker room was stealing the gel... there was no edge to it- pick up the gel, look in the mirror, put it down over and over..They also thought girls should have been in the ad to make it attractive to guys. Though cheap looking, Platinum won the task because it was too much in your face kind of ad and product to ignore! This time it paid off for Maria to be Maria... Andrew 5 times looser saw himself already being fired but then Lord Sugar decided to fired Nevdeep for being too academic and not really a business person. I agree with his decision thought it’s also clear Andrew days are numbers and he will not make the final cut. Take away- With all due respect to focus groups and market research, use your instinct and common sense as well! You can’t create a brand to fit the views of a small focus group! You should take their comments on board but it does have to make sense! Have a productive week and if you're celebrating Chanuka- Happy Chanuka:)

Friday, November 30, 2012

As a parent- which club would you choose?..

Time to capture the young! The apprentice- week 5: This week’s task was about inventing a new children’s club that will be fun, educational, boosting the potential within and of course, make business sense. The club will then be pitched to key investors in the business, the teams will offer them to buy their club license. Children's entertainment holds an amazingly wide range of activities and ideas anywhere from sport, to science, to arts and craft to going green. Platinum managed by Ashley, were struggling from the get go! Coming up with a concept took a very long time, Ashley simply couldn’t make a decision so while still debating between Dances from around the world and Eco art with emphasis on recycling club, they finally went out to do some market research. Strange enough, Ashley then decided to just copy the idea they witnessed at the paint club they went to! There was no convincing her to change her mind, the dancing concept did tick all the boxes required but she was having none of it. Not enough thought went into all the factors such as the horror on parents faces when they get their children back covered with paint every where, ruined cloths...The parents who are the ones paying, were not included in the research! Not to mention, there is nothing new or creative about this idea, it already exists. And so, Big mess was born! Splodge was their mascot. Odessey run by Navdeep came up with their science with a space twist concept quite quickly, they then split in to two teams and off they went to conduct their market research. They went later to a science tutor for tips and experiment ideas for the club. A fun activity was put together, they ended up calling their club Blast off! It was odd though them wanting to educate children about different areas of science and space when they didn’t even know what the planets are! They did pay attention to ticking all of Lord’s Sugar’s boxes, educational value was one of them. It was now time to create a logo, slogan, mascot and a website to go with their upcoming pitch. They had to have a live demo with children to showcase the idea. It would also help check out the children’s take on the idea, interaction and excitement level. Space face was the mascot created. There was on both teams a big emphasis on creativity and presentation and a real lack of focus on a proper business plan and pricing! Figures were just thrown into the mix with no thought later proving to coming back and biting them in the ass. Demonstration first pitch to follow...Platinum time with the children started on the slow side, some didn’t want to get so messy with the paint or get their faces painted however, once they warmed up to it they had a great time! Some sport movements with balls were incorporated in to the routine as well. The investors were very concerned about the mess, the fact that parents are not told before hand what to expect when its over- a possible 3 hours in the bath trying to get it all off not to mention, the cloths...Funny enough, money didn’t come up they did however, had to promise protective cloths to be included in the price hmm.. Odessey had a good session with the kids, they needed less encouragement to join in the fun. It was evident they were learning and enjoying themselves. The team had no real idea about pricing and when asked, couldn’t really respond well. They too promised the kit and tools needed per session to be included in the was clear they didn’t think it through. They even had spelling mistakes on their website which didn’t impress too much The board room turned out to be an annulation of... 10,950 pounds vs. 470 pounds only for Platinum! The reasons for failure were quite clear from the get go- A PM in love with her own voice, listening to no one! She thought her idea is the only idea and therefore pushed it or bulldozed it is more accurate. She completely missed the specifics of the task: New- Educational- Business sense! Their club just didn’t tick any of the boxes. It was obvious Ashley should have gone but lucky for her, poor David was in there for the forth time and Lord Sugar felt that the time has come to set him free! And then there were 7... Tune in next week for a hair raising task! Enjoy the weekend! Diti.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Apprentice- week 5: A fresh spin on afternoon tea..

Revamping afternoon tea- This task was about organization skills and business acumen. Both teams had to create a themed afternoon tea then sell it to the tourists and visitors at the Blenheim palace in London. This week Lord Sugar appointed David to be the PM of Platinum and Alice the PM of Odessey- It was time to step up! Platinum chose for a fun and colorful theme- Mad hatter's afternoon tea. They chose for cheap quality while Odessey decided to go vintage and create a 1940’s afternoon tea. They chose to replace war ressions and shortage with high quality food and introduce some British history in the process. David did realize from the start this is about making the biggest profit so that was at the heart of his strategy. Alice was very organized through out the task: Market research, a lot of attention went to the creation of the menu- actual tasting! the ingredients, quality and props. When it came to pricing, the sub team pushed for high prices to match their research. They ended up offering their high tea for between 12 to 16 pounds, different prices for adults and children. Odessey sold their afternoon tea experience for only 7.50 pounds! David split Platinum in to two teams sending the sub team to engage in market research. Ashley teamed with David were in charge of the shopping and menu, she ended up taking complete charge and guided David when it comes to the menu, pricing and ingredients. Lucky for him too since he was not in focus and seemed happy to have someone else make the decisions...the other members also had no say in the menu. The time came to bake the cakes- sub teams were in charge of that. Alice was so very busy with Patrick tasting and spending the big bucks, they even went to high end retailor for the tea..she was not available on the phone for most of the day meaning the sub team just had to go on their instincts as far as guessing what Alice meant..the cakes didn’t look that great also for lack of real guidance. She wanted iconic British food with a you have an idea what that means? They didn’t.. Platinum stuck to their theme and made fun and colorful cakes. Odessey’s food clashed with their theme: war times matched with high end.. The time came to set up shop in the palace’s gardens. Each team got two big tents, one for the kitchen and one featuring as a dining room. Alice’s team paid attention to all the details so the tents looked great, they were ready on time, they had army uniforms to match the vibe they were after and they gave good service to the guests. Platinum on the other hand was in complete chaos! Everything took way too long, they were not ready for people so the line got longer and longer..there was no structure to the kitchen, on receiving the guests or how to take the order effectively. They even ran out of dishes at one point.. David resembled a headless chicken running around, not sure how to talk with people which was odd and the others were no help! It took a while but they finally got their act together, David had a good idea on how to tackle the lack of space problem and offered people to sit outside on the grass picnic style. The service was not very good but people attributed that actually to the mad hatter theme! Odessy had a good start but then it dried up and there was no second wave. Some people did walk away due to the high price but with spending so much, they couldn’t really afford to sell for less. At the end of the day they did drop though to half price in a desperate attempt to sell more. Board room time... David, being as lucky as he has been so far in the process and though not much in the structure and organizing department did get the point- PROFIT: Spending a total of 150 pounds and selling for 474 pounds showed a profit of 316 pounds! Alice let herself get carried away and though organized, paying attention to detail missed the most important detail- profit.. She spent a whopping 284 pounds and sold for 375 pounds showing a poor profit of 91 pounds only. Alice ended up being sent home for missing the point, showing a lack of business acumen. Maria once again was warned for her aggressiveness and pushiness especially when it came to the price. She did push for high end prices however, with the money Alice spent, she couldn’t sell for less even if she wanted to! Dropping the ball on the budget, doing no price comparison means you cant hit the mark! Can you? Tune in next week for a task all about child’s play! Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The apprentice- At the opera!

Week 3- Creating win- win negotiations! This week’s task was about the art of negotiation. The candidates did manage to get some of the prices down however, there were no real skills involved. When the shop owners refused to give a discount, they were lost..then again, they are only 16! True, you can have business intelligence and ambitions at a young age. When examining the actual business skills at that age however, we find out that there has to be more to it then that. They need to study, personality refinement not to mention maturity and guidance through work. I would add that they need to get off the horse as we say in Israel! They may be a young successes but they don’t know it all and they are not that good, yet. It seems that when they were not sure of themselves or felt out of their depth, they just get aggressive as if this will make it invisible to the rest. This week the teams were mixed so we are no longer playing boys against girls. They were given a list of 10 items they had to find and purchase for the best possible price, bringing them to the Opera house where they will be used as props in a later production. Platinum chose Steve as their PM since he has structure and will bring order to the table hmmm...they were in for a surprised..Odessey choose Andrew. Both teams chose totally different strategies. Steve gave each member two items to research though they didn't realize this division or what their individual items were. Everyone was looking for locations to buy from for items at random. After a short while Steve thought they would be better off researching from the road so they split into two teams and off they went. Andrew thought they should stay put, find all the locations of purchase first and only then get going..Patrick was the only pointing out that since they don’t know London, they should find out on the map first where each group should go to depending on the items they were going to buy. While on the road, they did compare prices first before purchasing which sounds good basic business sense however for Platinum, it was simply get the cheapest price possible. They never thought about having a basic figure in mind to aim for. It’s not just about bringing a price down especially if its too high to begin with. Both teams in spite of their different approaches were only able to get 5 items out of the ten they were given. In the board room, Lord Sugar was not not too impressed...There were also two items the candidates didn’t even know what they were.. In spite of their huge waste of time and no one really having a proper responsibility, Odessey won the task by less then 30 pounds and a whole lot of luck.. Platinum lost mostly because they had bad management through out. The PM didn't have any indication of what was going on, he didn’t follow up with the proper questions and missed out on two basic items he had addresses for already. He chose to find new locations that didn’t work out. Amy was loud, aggressive and childish through out and that didn’t appeal to Lord Sugar, she was fired and rightly so. David broke an all time record I believe- third time in the board room and yet he was not fired! Take away: Know your prices! Bringing the price down is good but it’s not the same as getting a good price! When you manage a team, be clear about your division of the task at hand and what you expect from them. Make a clear plan to action and if you have a sub team, you need to follow up properly! Don’t ask is everything okay for example if the task is selling! Ask straight up- how much have you sold? If there are problems or changes you should make, this will the way to find out. And then there were 9! Tune in next week for the afternoon tea challenge. Have a good weekend! Diti.

Friday, November 9, 2012

You're fired!

The apprentice is back! At first I thought the search for a young apprentice will be slightly less however, it’s proving to be very interesting and quite an experience watching these kids at work. On a one hand, you can easily forget they are only 16&17 years old on the other hand, its quite sad in my view seeing them completely missing out on being teens and enjoying teen stuff. There doesn’t seem to be a balance and though I can fully relate to their passion for business, you will only be young once.. 11 youngsters are looking to kick start their business careers and are showing a burning passion for success I haven’t even seen in adults! We have two teams Odyssey- started as the boys team and Platinum originally the girls team. This week was their second task and Sir Alan mixed them up a bit to make it more interesting.. The task was about publishing: The teams had to write, design, print and produce a cookery book and then pitch their concept to the UK top 3 retailers. Did you know that this is a 84 million pounds industry?! Each year over 2,000 new cook books are published. Looking around, it seems to be the thing to do, TV and books alike. You can’t escape cooking these days that's for sure... Odyssey chose Sean as their PM- He is only 16 and yet, he is the youngest published author in the UK (what?)! He has also won an award for his writings.. What were you writing about when you were 16? Hmmm.. Platinum chose Lucy as their PM. It was now time to choose a concept&target market, Odyssey choose the professional working woman. However, when they went to test their ideas on a focus group, the group hated the idea! They all thought they should aim at a wider audience and add the professional working man to the mix. When calling in to Sean with the results suggesting the change, Maria who came up with the idea threw a fit. It's times like these when you can see the actual age of these kids...She thought they need to stand out to the retailers and a niche market is the best way to do it, forgetting that when it comes to publishing, the broader the audience the better it is. She simply didn’t stop till Sean gave in and agreed not to change their concept. Platinum choose to cater to students! They had a fun and very modern concept- combining a hash tag into the title and connecting it all with Twitter and social media. This move was very fitting with their target audience. #Where’s mummy? The students have now left home for the first time, how can they survive with out home cooking? Time to cook! The sub teams now had to come up with three recipes for their book matching the concept. Odyssey’s sub team did a good job writing it all down, proofing the material, taking great photos and matching cover. Very time efficient Platinum however, had a power struggle going on so the girls as only girls can be..decided to turn against the PM and just sabotage her wasting valuable time- They came back with a long list of ingredients and that’s it! So before creating everything needed for the final production, recipes had to be written making them almost miss their deadline! Of course that also caused them to have no time for proof reading which later proved a big embarrassment to their team. Moving on to design, once again Maria was just running the show. The reason Sean was the Pm was his knowledge of the publishing industry but he couldn’t get an idea in. What an over barring, not as smart as she thinks girl! I’m betting she will not last long..They also forgot the most important thing: incorporating into the title the words cook book.. The other team focused on the design and it came out a big success! It was much like a comic book too bad it was full of spelling mistakes though. No one at the time thought to check or even noticed these errors. Though they were aware that the person writing has dyslexia and proof reading was a must! They unfortunately ran out of time because of their hen like bickering.. The big moment has arrived, time to pitch to the retailers. Odyssey chose a good team to lead the pitch and cook the food. It was going well but for some reason Sean decided that the last pitch will be delivered by Patrick, even though he didn’t prepare well for it and didn’t know what he was doing. Note to project managers: This is business not a talent show, letting people try out different aspects of the business in search of their strengths isn’t a good strategy. Platinum did a good job pitching though no one was impressed by the amateur spelling mistakes jumping out to everyone. The board room... The results were not surprising really, Odyssey received only one order of 800 units from all 3 retailors. For the simple reason they were aiming at a very small niche market, retailers are looking for something appealing to as big a group as possible. Platinum won with an order of 7,500 units from all retailors if promising to prove read this time..:) Since Sean let Maria push him around and effect his decision making, making it a recipe for disaster combined with him ignoring the focus group completely he paid the price by getting fired. Take a way: Don’t ignore your focus group listen to what your audience is telling you! It’s not just about your ideas, they also have to hold water in the real world! Don’t fix what’s not broken- If your pitch is going well don’t change that team at the very last minute for no reason! Be assertive! And remember, you simply cant please every member of your team all the time- this is a business! And then there were 10... Tune in next week for the next task when someone will get fired! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Obama vs Romney: Who is maximizing his Twitter presence?..

Hi everyone, I'm back! How was your summer? Hope you had a fun time! For me, it was all about sun, beach and family! After being away all summer, it's now time to get back to normal. Always takes me a few days to adjust back.. The election in the US is coming up, we just voted in The Netherlands, it's been interesting seeing how both governments and the candidates themselves are using social media for their election campaign. I am no expert on American politics though I am leaning towards the democrats, since the results of this election influence the whole world I have been following Mitt Romney and Barack Obama on Twitter recently. No one is above social media apparently! Even the president of the Untied States understands he needs to be on there, reaching out to his voters and being connected to the people. Following them using the same platform- Twitter is fascinating mostly because of the huge differences in their use of it. Besides the obvious differences of course such as democrat vs. republican, each has a another approach which is what I love about social media- show us who YOU are.. Obama's page for example lists on the left hand side everyone connected to his campaign such Joe Bieden and of course the first lady. People can follow them as well, tweet questions ectra. I think that's a very good move! No one is off limits to the public, showing availability is great marketing! Romeny is on his own so to speak, no information about the people beside him, who will be coming with him to the white house should he win? Of course, the names are known but the people stay out of Twitter followers reach. Their marketing strategies couldn't be more different! While Romney's tweets from the last two days are against Obama- mentioning him by name and he's not showing his personal side. Obama's tweets don't mention him in the majority of tweets, his tweets are a combination about his supporters, photos, humor, something personal, info about his plans, where he is.. Marketing wise, it's clever because his campaign staff makes sure people are aware of the support he has and where its coming from. Its not just about putting the other one down. The images they are projecting are two opposites - one seems there, available the other more closed off, mysterious, not a people's person. But that's just me.. And if we are to judge by the number of followers they both have, I think we could see clearly who the winner is! ((: Romney tweeted only 1,162 times! Even I tweeted more then him...Maybe it took his campaign manager time to realize they should be on social media. Obama has tweeted 6,164 times. He has 672,769 people he is following, Romney on the other hand, is following just 269 people! No one has told him what twitter protocol says in cases like this:) And here is the shocker- 1,145,529 are following Romney, 19,921,995 are following Obama! Take a look- These days it seems everything is out there and you can reach almost everyone- is that good or is it dangerously close to crossing the line? Feel free to share your thoughts with me! Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Just how unique is your marketing?...

Standing out from your competitors is a daily challenge for businesses as well as marketers. So how do you use marketing to get noticed and stand out from the competition? This week I came across an interesting marketing concept, it is definitely unique, talk about outside the box thinking..:) We have yet to see how people will respond to this idea over time but it definitely created a buzz around this business and concept! People are becoming more aware of living healthy and changing what they eat in the process. More people today would like to know where their food comes from, they read on the packages what’s actually in their food, how its been prepared and all this is leading towards purchasing biological food. The Dutch people are buying more biological food then ever! In 2011, the Dutch spent 881 million euros on purchasing fish, meat, veggies and fruit which are biologically grown and produced. In the past couple of years, several online supermarkets have emerged, selling biological food. These sites allow you to order your shopping online. Once you placed your order, they then physically go and collect the different items for you from the farmers and suppliers, they then deliver it to your door. This can be a big help if you’re living in the city, it can be very time consuming should you choose to buy your food from the farmers directly for example. These online healthy supermarkets seem to be very popular meaning more are popping up...How can one still stay a head? One of them has decided to go the extra mile and launched a creative idea- The surprise box! The charm is that you don't know in advance what items you will be getting! Would it be a unique jam you never tried? Spices you've never heard of? Maybe good old fashioned Dutch veggies?... The risk is getting food you don't like which to me seems like a big problem however, when speaking with customers, one customer said he simply exchanges with other families around him items he doesn’t like though it doesn’t happen too often. Others have said it makes grocery shopping fun, almost like a game! Would you give the surprise box a try? So, what can you do to stand out and get your message heard? How can your brand get through all “noise”?... It's having your goals set, a marekting plan to match with attention to the smallest of details, get those creative juices flowing and.. Listen to what your audience wants and needs! See you soon! Diti.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Feminine Marketing: Are women really a separate target group?...

Ryan air's 2012 cabin crew calendar started a debate by marketing professionals here in The Netherlands. There is a strong connection between creating a successful marketing campaign and knowing what makes women tic! Did you know that more then 70% of purchase decisions are made by women? Mabel Nummerdor specializes in marketing for women. She claims that many companies today spend so much money on marketing campaigns with out doing the proper research, simply forgetting or perhaps not realizing that women are in many ways the actual target group, they are responsible for the majority of purchase decisions within the home! A calendar featuring Ryan air’s stewardesses in bikinis as pin ups, is a huge marketing mistake says Mabel. Especially considering it’s women that book 58% of the family vacations! Being aware of this % means this misses the target entirely, what woman will even look at this calendar even if it does feature the different destinations available. Saying it’s for charity to me doesn’t sound credible either. Maybe they were trying to hold the stick on both ends. The men will be drawn to the photos and the women will react to the charity aspect though I seriously doubt this! When analyzing marketing strategies and ads in the market today it’s still very evident it’s targeting men! It seems odd to me because in general, women are the biggest consumers and they do dominate many areas and have strong influence on others. An example is an ad created by Opel for their Meriva modal which featured in Red, a magazine for women. The ad said “Daddy’s car is the best”. The ad uses terms like the best which men respond to much more then women, winning a competition so to speak and having the best is something that wins men over. However, it’s not how women make a decision when it comes to a purchase. Women react with more emotions, they pay more attention to details and the small print. Different language appeals to them. So Opel placed an ad in a glossy women’s magazine, however, thinking that since they are talking about a car this is the language they should use. Making it close to impossible to achieving their goal. Not to mention that if Opel realized they should recognize the power of women in the consumer world, surly then they needed and should have adjusted the ad! It’s not about the location of your ad it’s in the details, terms used and the marketing tactics behind it. Women should be a separate target group. In the US, marketers took all this data and statistics to heart and since 2000 many changes have been made and implemented in marketing efforts. A great example is Harley Davidson- At Harley Davidson, The marketing team tried to think about what it is that makes women doubt buying a bike. Women have it seems a higher sense of fear when it comes to having an accident so they decided to tackle that, they are offering training for women, teaching them also how handle a big bike. This proved to be a huge success! A local example is Eliza, an online travel website. It’s written from a view point and perspective of women. Women and language in this case were a match made in heaven. Eliza is going on vacation... the website grew very fast and became a huge success. They simply realized at Eliza who the “real” target group is and are concentrating their efforts in reaching and appealing to that group. I happen to agree with this conclusion- Women are responsible for much of the consumer’s behavior and I think it’s smart to take all that into account when creating an ad or marketing promotions. How do you view this issue? Please share!:)

Monday, June 4, 2012

And Lord Sugar's new business partner is...

The four finalists were called to the Institute of Directors in last night’s episode. They had to pitch their business concepts to Lord Sugar for the first time, it was also the first time the contenders heard what their competitors are putting forward. The business ideas pitched could not have been any different! Later, it was time for the most feared moment by candidates through out the seasons of The Apprentice...interviewing with Lord Sugar’s advisers: Margaret Mountford, Mike Soutar, Matthew Riley and notorious, tough-talking Claude Littner. Even the most self assured, cocky candidates have feared this moment mostly because everyone knows these guys are tough and they definitely don’t tolerate any BS! Lord Sugar's four advisors scrutinized the candidates' suitability to be Lord Sugar’s partner, they faced the ultimate grilling as their CVs, personal statements and business plans were criticized, picked through and blown apart. Ricky’s words came back to haunt him..He referred to himself through out the show as Thor and the wrestler of the business world among other things..this did not impress anyone to say the least. He regretted those statements no doubt..they all had a go at him saying his personal statements were ludicrous, childish and filled with miss placed bravado... He wanted to stand out and he did though not in a painless way... In the boardroom, Lord Sugar heard his advisor's feedback and recommendations, and then it was the final four's turn to plead their case. Jade and Nick were fired and then there were two- Ricky vs. Tom. If you were following this season then you know it was expected these two will star in the final. Nick is a smart and ambitious candidate however, I don’t think he’s ready. Lord Sugar also felt his business ideas are more suitable for the American market. Jade well, she’s Jade it was clear she would not be selected since through out the process, she had more luck really then business acumen. It was very close until the very last minute! These are two very qualified, smart and creditable people. Lord Sugar said that it’s the “devil” (risk taker) vs. safety. Claude actually said he was mesmerizes by Ricky! Never has this kind of statement been heard...:)) Tom’s business plan was very impressive and very complex, Matthew thought at first that Tom’s father was the one who actually wrote it..Tom had an idea for the wine industry not surprisingly. His plan though involved raising an amount of 25,000,000 pounds and operating a hedge fund which he has no experience with. Lord Sugar was not comfortable with having other investors on board. In the end Lord Sugar chose the simple and straight forward business idea- Recruitment for the service industries such as scientists and software developers. Ricky then gave us the biggest smile you ever saw! A well deserving winner! Ricky has made the biggest transition and really evolved through out this process. He went from calling himself Thor, descending down from the heavens to saying it’s all about what you do and not what you say! Congratulations Ricky and the best of luck! Can’t wait for the next season...Have a great week everyone!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Apprentice- The finalists!

Week 11: The finalists have been chosen! Last task! The teams had to come up with a luxury brand for affordable prices. They had to display their prototypes in their own shop then pitch their new brand and product ranch to top experts in the business. The best brand and business plan will win, this week the candidates had to finally show off business acumen in depth besides active selling, marketing or management qualities. It was about creativity&vision but mostly, understanding the market, pricing strategy and a business plan. Phoenix got Adam as a PM since Lord Sugar felt it was time. Though he kind of grew on us, this week it was clear Adam was out of his depth. He had no idea what the task was about, what a strategy is not to mention a business plan...he did jump head in with excitement and strength but clueless non the less. They chose chocolate! Quickly though it became also jelly's, hot chocolate and other additional products. They had no lead product to represent the brand. Funny enough, Nick’s first business was a coffee shop with one leading product for his new brand. He should have been utilized better not to mention listen to.. Sterling was run by Ricky, praying third time as a PM will be lucky and he will finally win. Together with Tom they chose the male grooming market. They obviously have a personal interest here which proved motivating too. Creating three products with a touch of tradition and heritage to be sold in boutique like flag stores around the country and Europe. They did major market research and knew their niche very well! They visited a chain of salons for men to discuss branding and business modals. Tom was in charge of the brand name and business plan, Ricky went to the factory to create the products themselves under the name: Modern gentlemen. For Phoenix having a mishmash of products the chosen name was: Sweet thing. Nick was in charge of branding and the business plan, Jade went to the factory to make the products. They did go to a chocolatier to do some research but they enjoyed eating more then anything, therefore, they failed to ask important questions regarding pricing and business modals. Nick tried to warn Adam that they should narrow it down, have a lead product so they have a clear brand identity but no one listened. Jade came up with flavors and names for the range. Testing day! Both teams created a space to showcase their brand and range. Sterling was lacking creativity and color. It was very minimal display. Ricky&Tom felt the gray and minimalistic display represents luxury and tradition but it was a little too blend. They did offer wet shaves using their products to create an experience and interaction with the client which was a great idea! Phoenix had a very interesting store, very colorful. Because one of the products was called drunken jelly's, Jade added a cocktail bar to go with it. Qua atmosphere it was a good idea however, I don’t know that people knocking down shots is very chic or luxury...They did have great visual stimulance, smells and entertainment. Next was pitching to industry experts and Lord Sugar himself! Ricky and Tom were brilliant! They drilled each other before hand so were very well prepared and had all their figures. The best thing was that they took the criticism from testing day on board and implemented changes were possible. They made changes to the packaging to make it standout more and look luxury. They will sell only in their luxury flag shops. Pricing was spot on. Adam’s team created a bright and interesting shop but once they opened their mouths, it went down hill... They had no strategy or any kind of real business plan. Nick tried to save the day but there was no attention to detail and their positioning was flawed. The price was actually for mass sales in supermarkets, not the point... They priced their chocolates at 2.99 pound so it was slightly higher then supermarkets and less then chocolatiers but they took a loss! It made no sense, at that price it was not middle position more like loosing position. In the boardroom Lord Sugar had to chose his finalists! Tom and Ricky were very professional and though a few errors were made, they have a better brand and even better plan securing a spot in final. For Phoenix it was fight time! It was clear that Adam had to go..Jade too since I doubt she would actually win this but there you go, she has more luck then brains. Its almost over..Tune in next week to find out who the victor is! Can't wait!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Apprentice- week 10: Two for the price of one!

This week’s task was about getting good deals for a fashionable discount site. Both teams had to go out and negotiate the best luxury daily deals they can find to feature on the daily discount company website for 24 hours. They met the CEO who emphasized that they will only accept high end experiences, his team would have to approve the deals before they go live. As ordered by Lord Sugar, Stephan was the pm for team Sterling, Jade was pm for team Phoenix. From the get go, they had totally different strategies and implementation technics. Stephan had a very clever idea, he ordered his team to come back with multiple deals from each business! He did not want to waste time so they booked their appointments on the go, at times having to make decisions under stress. Never a good also caused Stephan to get carries away with multiple deals as opposed to getting first quality high end offers. Jade however, decided to go with quality and not quantity which is a bit odd to me- If you find a business offering a luxury service and you close a deal with them, that means they fit the criteria right?.. Then why not get more from each client?! Well, she didn’t recognize this option. She also wanted to take the time to book appointments so they did that from the office, giving them time and space to select well. Stephan&Gaby came back with multiple deals from a dentist office, gold center and a fish spa (Gaby’s idea). However, there’s nothing high end about this service! Even the owner of the spa himself said he doesn’t think this will be considered a high end experience...No one was listening though. Ricky came back with multiple deals for dinner&lunch from a high end hotel restaurant and a Michelin star restaurant. Funny enough, he had to close each deal with scallops..high end dish I suppose. Stephan did want to send Ricky to a very famous spa hotel which was outside the city, Ricky thought he should stay in town as there are more options in London. Here is an important lesson- Don’t ignore your gut instincts! Stephan caved in but the team missed out on one of the most popular deals people look for on such websites. They had a total of 9 deals. Jade’s team came back with a package for a high end spa and a couple of lunch and dinner deals. In total 6 deals. The website approved however only 3 deals from Sterling and only 2 deals from Phoenix! Sterling sold 7 units of a golf package while Ricky’s deal sold out completely!! He could have pushed them for more units but due to lack of experience in this area, he did think 300 units will be the right amount as it’s only live 24 hours. Stephan and Gaby brought in 350 pounds, Ricky brought in 6,213 pounds! Phoenix sold 70 units of the lunch special however, their spa package sold for 8,630 pounds total income: 14,563 pounds! Making them the winners! Stephan must have been kicking himself for not sending Ricky to the spa hotel, a guaranteed success. Ricky should have gotten more units from the restaurants. For Jade, it was a lucky save as her way of approaching and negotiating leaves much to be desired. One of the clients actually told Jade that when she comes to a business meeting, she should come with intelligence! The spa deal saved her. Lord Sugar’s finger worked over time this week- it was a double firing! Stephan for his caving under the pressure and having no direction leading to bad choices. Gaby for not having a business acumen. It was time for Lord Sugar to see clearly and identify who will not be his partner. Honestly, they should have been gone and it's not too soon either! The final is almost here...Can't wait! Have a wonderfull weekend:)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Apprentice- Week 9: "Less fizz, more sparkle!"

Did you know that 35,000,000 champagne bottles are imported into the UK each year? English sparkling wine has actually won many awards during the past 9 years and yet, French champagne is dominating the market. Lord Sugar feels its time to raise awareness and get people to drink more local produce. This week’s task was to create an awareness campaign for English sparkling wine. They had to create a new image, a marketing online campaign and launch a website. They will also be pitching their ideas to leading people in the industry. Ricky led team Sterling, he referred to himself as David against Goliath as Phoenix was led by Tom, an expert in the wine industry and Nick who is a technology expert. Ricky’s strategy was finding one word to describe the product and create the campaign with that in mind. After visiting a vineyard and speaking with local professionals, it was obvious its all about quality! Ricky wanted every aspect of their work to reflect just that. No cheesy ads then... Gaby showed once again her creativity and after visiting the local supermarket for inspiration regarding colors, fonts and logos, she came up with the logo of the English rose in a shape of champagne glass. Stephan did not actually contribute much to the task because he simply missed the plot! It was not about selling the product but re branding it and raising awareness for it. He ran around the supermarket looking for someone who can explain prices and target groups- all irrelevant information. In his defense though, they all missed the basic idea as will be proven during their pitch later. Stephen suggested the word Grandeur as their name....raising awareness for English wine when using a French name! Hmmm... To my surprise, the team used the name! On Tom’s team things where a bit odd this week. Tom took Adam to visit a vineyard and later a wine tasting, he even conducted a wine tasting of his own later..they did get a bit drunk while Jade and Nick were left holding the beg for most of the first day. Tom was having fun while they worked, well he was the PM..:)) They did the marketing, the website and ad. They chose ESW- English sparkling wine as their name. Incorporating as much English as possible for recognition. They decided to create a label for manufactures to be able to use and put on their bottles with this name so it will be easily recognizable by consumers. I thought that was an interesting idea though I cant see wine manufactures going for it. I would expect them wanting to use their own branding. Otherwise, the site was quite boring. Ricky created a more colorful website with a vision in mind- English heritage and quality. They chose gold, black and white colors projecting luxury and recognition. There was also an option to create a database of interested people, a forum and social media was incorporated as well. They gave a lot of attention to the details. However, both teams went in the direction of sales, speaking to existing/regular clients. There was nothing to create new buzz, attract new customers, nothing about why you should drink it for example. The ads created by both were if were honest, quite awful.. Though Ricky said specifically no cheese! Jena created a very cheesy wedding ad which she thought was humorous. Adam tried to show you don’t need a special occasion to drink so it showed people meeting up in the pub for dinner. Watching Adam this week was hilarious! He didn’t even know what champagne is and where the name comes from, he kept calling himself a chorographer (instead of director)even though there was no dancing involved.. I cant see Lord Sugar ever working with someone like that but he is funny Ill give him that. In the boardroom it was clear Ricky had good ideas&a clear vision like his slogan- Less fizz more sparkle! His pitch was good, a lot of attention to details but a very cheesy, done to death ad and even though Tom seemed to not have a clear vision and created a boring campaign with no raising awareness story, the experts felt it was still better so Phoenix won. For Tom, it was a close call. I do think he would have gone home, he didn’t do too much his team did all the work while he was basically drinking. Very odd behavior on his part. It was close for Stephen as well. This time it was obvious he can talk the talk but in action, he has very poor performance and the guy can not take any responsibility! Jena was fired for the cheesy ad and for missing the point of both the task and the fact that she disrespected the product, not understand the damage a campaign like that can do. Stephan was told he is the next PM and he better win or else..Cant wait! I actually think that in spite the hard work, both teams should have lost. They totally missed the point from start to finish with out achieving their objectives at all. As always, I'm happy to hear your comments and ideas about this week's episode! Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Apprentice: Lesson #8: People (not products) sell people!

This week’s task was about shifting urban (graffiti) art in London’s cutting edge East end. Both teams had their own gallery space on Brick lane, they had one evening to sell their chosen art to the public, private collectors and one corporate client each set up by Lord Sugar. Both teams had to select two artists, for each sale they will receive a 40% commission. Sterling was led by Gaby who could not have been more enthusiastic through out the task... You can actually see her evolving through out the show! She’s improved her leadership skills in a big way. Being passionate and excited about the art was her only gameplan. When the sub team went to meet with the artists, they did not ask any of the questions they should have like: What’s your budget? Does size matter? They were however so enthusiastic and engaging with the artists that later, they could pick any of the artists they were interested in. Tom was the PM for Phoenix. Tom knows the scene very well and was indeed very knowledgeable however, by trying to impress the artist with his knowledge he forgot to be engaging or passionate about the art they were seeing. Big mistake as the artist had the last word regarding who will represent them. Showing no passion about the art and not speaking to the artist on their own level, caused Tom’s number 1 choice to go with Gaby instead. If the seller doesn’t show any passion or is not appreciating the art, how will they be able to sell it? Gaby’s corporate client was a distillery. They were looking for an art piece to do with London and local history, their budget was 10,000 pounds however, the team didn’t know that and what they chose therefore did not fit their client needs. Gaby said she didn’t ask the question on purpose unable to explain the logic behind it.. In hindsight, had they known the budget, they could have picked Jessop's posters selling between 8-10,000 pounds and blow Phoenix out the water! When Tom met with their client- a car manufacturer, he handled it very well. Engaging, asking all the right questions and giving them a lot of attention when they showed up at the gallery. One artist was very popular- Pure Evil. He chose Gaby though leaving Tom surprised and with no plan B...He then chose James Jessop who makes beautiful art however, very pricy and the size of the paintings is poster size accommodating only a very small niche. Tom decided to roll the dice.. They showed Copy right&Jessop. Sterling showed Pure evil and Nathan- a builder turn artist. Show time! Sterling had trouble shifting the art at first. Stephan had an interesting idea, Nathan was creating his art live for people to see, they were able to engage with him personally however, his art proved to be a little pricy. Phoenix did give us a master class at how NOT to treat a corporate client! When the clients walked in, no one was there to greet them, introduce them to the rest of the team or the artist present, they were not even offered a drink. Needless to say, they left quite fast with not even a single goodbye from the team. Phoenix were trying their best to shift a Jessop but it proved to be impossible, Copy right did sell quite well. Adam was as far out of his comfort zone as possible but he adapted fast and proved to be the best sale’s person! It was clear he had no idea what he was talking about never the less.. Copy right was their bread&butter, one Jessop would have brought the house down but it wasn’t to be.. So who won the task? In the boardroom, it was Gaby’s flattering and engaging the artists took to and was why they wanted them to represent them. Tom realized that knowledge will only get you so far and though it didn’t make sense to him, engaging and socializing would have been a better tactic. Gaby’s team treatment of their client cost them big mistake as they did not purchase any art at all. Tom’s client did purchased art worth 5,000 pounds! But in the end Sterling won the task with 4,579 pound in commission. Winning by a difference of just 137 pounds! Tom earned a lot of respect as for the first time ever in boardroom history, he fought for himself without smearing or pointing fingers at everyone else. He was honest and took responsibility for the risky moves he made. Lord sugar liked that. Lara took a back seat though out the task, she was also the weakest sales person on the team. She offered Tom no impute or advice at time of crisis, Jade was so indecisive but she sold better so Lara got her walking papers and rightly so! I was impressed with Tom, only two years out of university and already showing great business skills and understanding he’ll go far! Who is your favorite? Which artists would you have chosen? Please share with us:)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Apprentice- week 7- Can you smell what sells?...

This week’s task took Lord Sugar down memory lane..this is how he started his empire which is quite unbelievable! The teams replicated Sugar’s first business venture. They were sent to a wholesale warehouse with 150 pounds, they had to choose stock to sell on two location. The idea was to smell what sells! During the day, they had to restock through re-investing their takings in which ever products they saw sold best. Hopefully they delivered the best margin as well. Team Sterling with Nick as PM, had a clear strategy and plan from the get go. Very organized, they decided very quickly on products they felt would suit the public in Essex, they also chose items to be sold in the market- house hold products and items to be sold in the shopping mall- beauty products. ( For example fake tan and nail rapes). Phoenix under Jade, operated in complete chaos! Decision making was strategy what so ever- a word that would come back to haunt Jade... They spent so much time on finding the right location that they had just a few minutes to select the products. Jade wanted a big verity so it ended up being a random mix of items. She decided to split the items 50-50 between the market and the mall. Even though Azhar kept telling her they should send more items to the market and that they should decide which items are fitting which location, he was simply ignored even ridiculed. For Sterling, chosing specific items also matching the location they were at, proved good and sales went well. The fake tan was their best seller! Nick decided quickly to re stock, since it was raining at the market it was empty so Stephan&Ricky were sent to the warehouse. Nick made two crucial mistakes: 1. Their household stock remained in the van instead of being first dropped off at the mall for the team to sell. 2. They were quite far from the warehouse, Nick’s team members were much closer. This resulted in the team having a void period with nothing to sell for close to two hours! Ricky&Stephan were stuck in traffic.. They did identify their best seller so it was said- “Bring back as much tan as you can”. They re stocked three times doing their sums, selling with a high margin. Jade didn't pay enough attention to the price the items can actually be sold for and worst yet, she kept cutting prices which were low to begin with.. Lord Sugar was clear- the winner will be the team with the most assets! Meaning its cash profit and whole prices on items left therefore, cutting prices in that way made no business sense! Because it was a random mix of items, it was very hard to shift the goods. The sale’s team had to go from one item to the other when they have nothing in comment, some not fitting the public and foot traffic there leading to Jade's dropping price to 50%. They restocked three times as well but they missed the point big time- each time,the PM decided to restock on all items! The idea was to smell what sold best and restock that item. Again, she ignored the team suggesting to buy only their best sellers. The end result was that team was left with 7 items, the same amount they started with...Sterling had only two items... Adam did redeem himself a bit this week, he utilized his market sales abilities well. He felt right at home selling really well however, he too missed the mark. He doesn’t understand why one needs a proper strategy, pricing and he didn’t see that the flogging approach made no sense in this case. He made fun of these issues proving he should remain in the market, he will not be partners with Lord sugar well, I cant see that happening... also because he isn't open to learning anything new. You can take the boy out of the market but you can’t take the market out of the boy... Not having a strategy proved a big mistake for Phoenix, and combined with a much too broad assortment and a flogging mentality, it cost them the task- what a shock... Sterling won- 955 pounds profit, 117 pounds more then Phoenix. They did not slash their prices, they priced right from the get go and stuck to that. They sold the fake tan for example for 10 pounds a bottle, Jade’s team sold it for 2.99 pounds a bottle... In the board room, Jade gave a good fight and sold herself better then Azhar. Even though the loss was truly down to her bad management and lack of business skills, Azhar didn’t fight his corner hard enough and it cost him, he was fired. Lord Sugar said he decided to fire him because the team ignored him and didn’t take his opinions on board. This was true however, he at least knew what he was doing business wise. I don’t agree with his decision this week, do you? Feel free to share and add your views&comments on this episode below. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fine dining on the street- The apprentice.

Week 6- Setting up a mobile gourmet restaurant in Edinburgh. This week’s task proved a tricky one for both teams and it needed a lot of attention to details. Location was crucial this week. The teams had to come up with one gourmet signature dish and sell it on the streets of Edinburgh out of a mobile restaurant. The emphasis was on the quality of the food just as much as on keeping costs low and maximizing profit margins. This week Lord Sugar chose the PMS himself. Team Sterling’s PM was Jenna team Phoenix’s PM was loud mouth Adam, he finally had to put his money where his mouth is... Sterling decided to go Scottish and created a beef casserole with haggis. Phoenix decided on Italian cuisine, though there were other suggestions from the team, Adam felt this was the best way especially since the costs can be kept low. When Tom suggested sushi Adam actually asked who eats sushi? no one in his right mind would do that he said... Both teams got culinary experts to assist them in creating and making the dish. Phoenix got to work with a famous Italian chef. He helped them with their meatballs and pasta idea. Adam was very cheap, he wanted to cut out from the dish even the fresh rosemary... Sterling had the help of a famous local chef to create their dish thinking that by going local, it will appeal to tourists as well. Jenna played it risky and went for high quality ingredients. They did get a chance to go to a food fair first to do some market research and see how its done. The next step was branding a remodeling the “store”. Adam asked Stephan, Jade and Katy to do the branding and marketing. Sterling’s process was actually done more as a team. Adam wanted to use the chef’s name as he was Italian and well known, that was a good idea however, the sub team disagreed and chose to go with “Utterly delicious” as a compromise they added meatballs. It didn’t sound Italian, as far as branding goes it was a missed opportunity. They could have sounded more authentic, this chef was very well known and they didn’t cash in on that though he was happy to help them. The sub team actually made many of the decisions, Adam had just a little too much faith and dependence on Stephen and Katy in my view so as a manager, he had no authority nor control. The teams had to arrange licensing as well. Sterling did make some calls to the city information center for example to figure out where would be the best location. They added the tourist twist and got dressed up in Scottish outfits to get people in the mood, they even had a guy playing traditional pips to attract attention. Katy told the team they should go to the football stadium since the Ranges were playing that day and the team agreed. Though their costs were only about 50 p (what??) Adam decided to price it at 5.99 pounds! Had he priced at at a reasonable 2.99 pounds more suitable for a football crowed, it would have been different. Lord Sugar said it best:”... the Rangers don’t even pay their striker that much..” it was too expensive, the dish didn’t look good and sales were low. The sub team put costumes on, Katy was actually dressed as a pizza..they took to the streets to try drive traffic from the streets as they realized they have to move. Stephen saw a tour operator and made a deal with the driver. The bus goes out every 15 minutes, they were allowed to go on and promote them selves. Thinking they hit the jackpot, they called Adam excitingly to say move here to where the bus stops, traffic will be crazy! Katy treated the people on the bus like silly children so there were no takers, they also missed the next bus..Stephen made the decision its time to quit and went a head to help selling with the others. It was a good idea which was poorly executed. Sterling took Schot’shot to a busy location, they did struggle a bit to sell resulting in them moving to another location. The problem Jenna faced was that she had no room to maneuver qua price, their costs were high. Adam went quickly from 5.99 to 2 pounds... In the board room Sterling was the winner! It turned out the sales team’s hard work and Jenna’s risky strategy paid off. They spent 268 pounds but they made a profit of 319 pounds. Adam’s team spent only 90 euros! Adam was simply too greedy therefore the profit was only 298 pound which is amazingly low considering. Had he sold for a reasonable price fitting the location he would have sold much more turning a healthy profit. The failure of the task lay primarily with the location combined with a high price for something that looked like dog food if were honoest and the branding team making wrong decisions. Stephen was very good at fending everything in the direction of others on the sub team. A very un attractive quality when you cant accept responsibility. Adam showed his market trading mentality (his day job outside the process) is very much present and doesn’t fit a business such as the one Lord Sugar is interested in however, he did get a second chance and so, in the end Katy was fired. Rightly so, she pushed the wrong location, she wanted to price the dish even higher then Adam at 7.99 which is crazy. She too, missed an important opportunity within the branding. She failed to see the benifits of using the chef’s name and she's a brand developer...–it was time for her to go. Adam and Stephen should be next... Was Lord Sugar right? Please add your thoughts and comment below! Have a great day! Diti.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Apprentice- Making movement into money!

Tonight’s episode was acceptingly good and it ended with a total shock too but let’s take it from the top.. Lord Sugar thought up a great task this week requiring real innovative thinking. The teams had to invent a new form of fitness programme and license the rights to run it to gyms across the nation. Making movement into money! So leading team Sterling was Ricky Martin (he must get a laugh or two when he introduces himself..) I thought their concept was good, they chose to combine two popular trends rather then invent a completely new workout. They combined martial arts and dance, they called it- Beat Battle. Ricky and Laura came up with the movements and the workout. These were to feature in the promotional video. They went to a boxing arena and asked the help of a dance group to decide on the moves.
Later Duane was put in charge of the video, he chose however, not to listen to any feedback from the sub team and flew solo so to speak.
Ricky was in charge of the pricing: 45 pounds per month and two months free if they chose a yearly package. A little on the expensive side. All in all, they did a good job. Ricky delivered the pitches very well, they even added the moves live demonstrated by Laura I thought that was a nice touch.

Leading Phoenix was Stephen which actually works in the health and fitness industry. I must say, they were silly like their workout from the get go. One of their ideas was to actually do something with speed dating..
I was expecting them not to be taken seriously. They went retro-disco with an 80s feel and decided to go for something totally unique-Groove Train. The name is as silly as the workout...
They incorporated props like skipping rope, space hopers and hoola hops into their routine.

The focus/help group was three dancers dressed like Olivia Newton John when she was doing Physical! Adam added some Michael Jackson/thriller movements making everyone watching cringe.. The video was a cheesy as they come, showing 5 signature moves shot in a 80s night club.
They priced it lower at 35 pounds per month or 13,500 for a yearly based package.

They had a really big problem though, when asked about the props Stephan just blurred out they will supply all the equipment. He had no idea how much that would actually cost, initially he said 3.5 pounds per kit.
Had this task been about profits they would have lost for sure but it was about selling licenses for their workout.

Entering the board room, I was thinking this week it’s clear! The Groove Train is ridiculous, the industry execs they pitched to were concerned about the room the props will take up and the target group.
Surly they are about to go down...

The first chain hated them, they did like Beat Battle but not as is. They offered first to develop it further.
Chain two hated the Groove Train too and liked Beat Battle so they bought licensing for 2,950 pounds.
The 3rd chain hated Beat Battle (what??) and lord and behold, they liked Groove Train for the family market (again, what??) They bought licensing for 12,850 pounds..
Phoenix actually won! I'm pretty sure anyone watching, didn't see that coming...I didn’t expect anyone to take them seriously but there you go!

The feedback from the execs said Ricky was good, well prepared with a very good concept the problem lay with execution, meaning the video. It didn’t show enough combat moves it did show too much dance which already exist in the market.
For that, Duane was fired..Shame! He was good and very competent.

Yes, he made major mistakes in directing and editing but he was not the weakest member of the team. Ricky made a bad management move and brought in with him the people that contributed the most, allowing once again for the others with close to zero impute slide on to next week.

Who would you fire? Cant wait for next week...!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jane- You're (finally..) fired!

My apologies for a delayed post everyone, I spent the week in Spain and the only shows you have on TV there are in Spanish...So-

The Apprentice- Week 4:

It was an interesting task this week, all about the saying: One men’s trash is another’s treasure.
Lord Sugar asked the teams to source second hand stock, they then have one day to sell it for maximum profit in a shop set up in Brick lane, east London.
Both teams received 1,000 pounds.
Did you know dealing in second hand stock is a 2 billion pounds a year industry?

Laura was the PM for Sterling while Tom was the PM for Phoenix. Two completely different styles of management and strategies.
Laura chose to turn trash into cash, buy as many items as possible for as cheap as possible spruce them up adding value and hopefully raising the profit margins.
Tom chose a more risky strategy, minimalistic so no clutter. Quality over quantity basically less is more!
Only it’s a thin line between minimal and emptiness and they did not see the size of the shop before buying their stock making this risky.

Sterling named their shop Vintage gold. Phoenix was named Retro station.

Laura’s team ended up buying 200 items, Gabrielle got another chance at showing her creativity honestly, I wasn’t very impressed. She claimed to know what’s hot qua design- thinking its cheesy touristy Union Jack..? Laura forgot one key point though- sprucing up costs money and you do need real expertise.

Tom’s team bought only 50 items...selectively picked. He initially gave out only 200 pounds to buy stock! This seemed a little foolish at first but no one stood up to him so to speak, they did as best they could what he delegated, complained to the cameras however.
Laura’s team was much more enthusiastic, chaotic maybe and worked very much as a team.
Both teams bought in auction houses, house clearance, car boot sales and junk stores.

The sprucing up took up so much time that Sterling opened their store late, their designed proved to be very hard to sell so the sales tactic was very pushy and aggressive especially by Jane. Around lunch time, Laura decided to print fliers and send a promotional team out to the streets bringing the clients over hoping the traffic will mean cash.
Their stock did not look the part, the vintage did not look authentic and the shabby chic was mostly shabby..Visitors said they didn’t “buy” it"!

Tom’s team sale technic was more friendly, easy going and the items selectively picked proved to a be a success. They did add stock during the day so the shop doesn’t look empty.

In the board room Lord Sugar announced that Laura’s team made a profit of 783 pounds, their costs totaled 600 pounds.
Phoenix made a profit of 1,063 pounds, costs totaling in just 300 pounds!

So who would you blame for the lose?
To me it’s clear- The sprucing up was out of control, no one checked it before hand. Gabrielle's creativity got them no where fast!

Lord Sugar also thought the was no order or control over the budget. Laura said Gabrielle was like a child in the candy store, she bought things with out really taking a moment to think about it however, she was the PM!
They did no market research qua design. They took Gabi's word for it which proved a mistake as Union Jack was too cheesy, people didn’t like it and their shabby chic attempt wasn’t a good one.

He had to choose from Gabrielle, Laura who might have missed the plot and couldn’t manage her team or Jane, who has shown nothing through out the process and sold only 10 pounds worth..can you imagine??

Gabrielle literally saved herself by saying to the others at least I tried, what did you do? Apparently Lord Sugar liked that.
Jane being on the loosing team from the start, selling so poorly and being very aggressive with the clients was the fourth victim and was fired!
I think it was a mixed blame between Gabi and Laura. I would still fire Gabi.
Jane is an unlikeable person in my eyes, full of herself. She has an impressive CV on paper only though and she thinks she’s better then the rest and yet, has nothing to back it up with. Maybe she sold poorly but that didn’t cost them the task. She shouldn’t have been fired on this task but I wont miss her..

Tom is a man of few words, he take’s risks and he might just be my favorite to win

Tune in on Thursday for week 5! Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Michael- With regret, you're fired!

The Apprentice- Week 3:

This week the task given by Lord Sugar was to invent, manufacture, brand and sell an original condiment.
The teams were mixed and both had different approaches to the task:
The boy’s team Phoenix- led by Katy, chose table sauce meaning mass market. They manufactured spicy ketchup called Bellissimo.
The girl’s team Sterling- led by Duane, chose something more niche and original...Chutney- original flavor called infusion- pineapple&chilly chutney.
This week decisions were made fast and no time was wasted on bickering, a step forward some would say:))

Lord Sugar set up one meeting with a big grocer, the rest had to be done using their own selling strategy.

Both teams sent the production sub teams to the factory. A sample had to be made ready within the hour for the pitch to the mass grocer.
Team Sterling was led in the factory by Jane who by the way, again showed very poor skills though this is right up her ally. She can’t even figure out costs!
Since they did not taste until the very end, they found out it’s too spicy but had no time to start over. They went to their pitch without a sample and basically said, we have a great product please buy even though you can’t see it or taste it...That was embarrassing!
They should have at least had an empty jar with the label and branding for show.
Phoenix led by Rickey had their sample ready on time and the pitch went well, an order was placed.

Unlike Sterling’s production team, Phoenix struggled through the whole process making serious mistakes which ended up costing them 1/5 of their product!
They made in my view and those in the board meeting as well as the prospects, other crucial mistakes: Bellissimo was miss spelled!
The small details in marketing&branding are what will make it or break it. Many don’t realize how truly important that is. The gentlemen they were pitching to said immediately you miss spelled your name..
It make’s you look un professional! You have to get these things right!
Another mistake was the label, it showed a big red pepper with Bellissimo on top. It doesn’t say what the product is though...

Next step- sell sell sell!
Katy did not spend any time on costing big mistake! They aimed at mass market meaning high volume-low costs!
Because the production team made only around 320 bottles, the price had to go up. Would you pay 3.99 pounds for Ketchup?..
It was simply too expensive. They had to change their sales strategy quick from trade to selling to the public to try turn things around.

Duane’s sub team went back to the grocer with a sample this time and secured an order. A bigger order since their pricing was right..
Katy went from trade to public- they sold in the mall and took to the streets targeting big restaurants. Duane’s team combined the two. They chose a supermarket which was not very successful, people didn’t like to be disturbed on their lunch break. A market might have been a better place.
They too took to the street and went to small shops.
Both teams didn’t sell all their items.

So the winner was....Team Sterling! They sold 607 jars and made a profit of 1,028 pounds! Team Phoenix sold 305 bottles and made a profit of just 585 pounds.

They lost because of production mistakes and not enough selling. You can not target mass market and manufacture only 300 bottles with an expensive price tag. Once they lost 1/5 of their product they were doomed.
They didn’t have enough of the product effecting their costs and ultimately their recommended price.
They were right to turn to the public once they realized this but they still didn’t have enough to sell to make it up.
Maybe the PM should have been in the factory, seems important enough to me! Possibly there were too many cooks in the kitchen too.
They ended up in the infamous Bridge café to discuss the loss and what had happened.

Michael was the manager of the sale’s sub team pitching to trade. He was too quite, he didn’t sell well and let them rip him apart so he was fired.
He wasn’t a strong candidate, he isn't tough enough but Rickey is with out a doubt the one that got away! The lose had everything to do with production which he ran.
He talks the talk but hasn’t really walked the walk, maybe next week!

Was Lord Sugar right in his decision?
Feel free to post your comments and ideas below!

I wish you all a happy Easter and a happy&kosher Pessach!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

You're fired!!

One of my favorite shows on TV is the Apprentice either with the Donald or Lord Sugar.
Finally, a new season started last week with Lord Alan Sugar.
The price this time is not a job in his organization, he is looking for someone to invest 250,000 pounds in his or her business.
16 candidates are in the running, the tasks they get are diverse and interesting, one can learn a lot from them.
Marketing, sales, communication, customer service and the feedback of course from Sir Alan and his team. Watching the process of completing the task is very educational too.

I have to admit it’s not a very impressive group this time. They are all extremely arrogant describing themselves as young versions Sir Sugar. For example, one guy calls himself a shark- he sees what he wants and he just takes of the ladies calls herself a restaurateur at the age of 20, later it turned out she manages the family’s restaurant..
They are a strange group absolutely full of them selves, each one is an amazing business person and gods gift to the world. They are all this that and the other..if there something I find a turn off, is super arrogance and being self absorbed!

Week 2: Last night episode was about inventing and designing a home gadget and pitching it to two major retailers. The winning team is the one that got the most orders.

The teams are women vs. men and the guys are beating the ladies two weeks in a row now..
Both seem to have two things in common: It is clear! Once a team member pushes an idea forward, no other idea has a chance. Even if it is better and more fitting idea.
Both teams project leaders chose to ignore market research and focus group results to accommodate their own vision&choice, risky move...
Both teams have also singled out a team member during the task who is more quite or “weak” in preparation for the board room, just in case.

It’s really interesting to see how different the process is between men and women. The ladies were dis organized surprisingly and the guys were ego driven. As they say, there’s no I in team:))
The guys wanted to solve an existing problem in the kitchen, the ladies however kind of invented a problem as well as the gadget to solve it.

So the boys choose to design a gadget for the kitchen- a waste food compressor for the home so people could recycle easily. There are such products already in the market so they focused on a more trendy and modern design and better size.
They had another idea- kitchen gloves with a kind of scotch attached on one side so when you wash pots and pans, you don’t need extra items, its all in one.
The boys got going faster, they had the idea, they split in two to check a focus group and conduct market research. The focus group actually liked the glove idea better but when the results of the focus group came in, the PM chose to ignore it.
Marketing mistake no. 1! You can not ignore what people say or need otherwise, what's the point of doing it? They went a head with designing and creating the proto type.

The ladies process took a while, there was no no creativity what so ever...They chose to design a gadget for the bathroom which is more limited in options.
finally two ideas were put forward.
Both not very good however, one clearly better then other. It was between the Tap cozy or a Splish Splash- a splash screen to keep the water in when you give your baby or young child a bath.
The focus group said the splashing part of the bath is the most fun for the child and therefore, they wouldn’t want to take that away. They would not buy it.
The Tap cozy is a kind of pillow like to be put on the tap for you to rest your feet on while you take a bath. This idea got very positive responses.
The woman behind the idea of the splash screen kept saying why has this not been done yet? It’s just what we need..she later found out why it hasn’t been made..
The PM chose again to ignore the focus group, the moment the designer said the Tap cozy is complicated to design she used it as a way out.
She told the design team to build a proto type of the screen.

When the pitch's took place, it was so embarrassing for the ladies! They all talked about how incredibly shroud and successful business women they are and yet, no one got the numbers right! The foundation of any business: It cost x so I can sell it for y. Not to mention Jane the PM, actually asked for an order of one million units! How ridiculous is that?!
The second pitch went better however, the product created more problems then it solved. For example, the added colors, the children can write and draw on the screen, it can then be wash it off. The retailor asked what stops my child from writing with it all over my bathroom?..Where will I store it?

The guys pitch went well only is was a strange decision not to allow the guy which initially came up with the idea and design to pitch it. Steve wants to do all the pitches regardless if it’s the right decision, he seems to like hearing his own voice...The problem was he couldn’t answer the questions well because he didn’t understand the ideas and vision behind the product. It made him look silly and the team clueless and un professional.

The guys did win the task with a combined order of 13,000 units. The ladies had one order of 7,000 units.
The other retailor simply did not like the product and thought it was more of a toy actually. Sir Alan said their product sucks...

The PM couldn’t take responsibility for the lose, she blamed everyone else. She was the one to ignored the research therefore her product failed.
She couldn’t do simple maths and that’s way they lost.
Lucky for her, the other two failed to articulate it well and join forces in the board room and someone else was fired.
I do think Maria should have been fired as she did nothing within the team and contributed nothing to the task however, the PM showed very poor business skills.
I doubt she will make it too far.

At this time there's no one yet that stands out from the group. Normally, I have a favorite to win one from the get go...
Still, looking forward to the next episode!
Wed. 21:00 pm, BBC 1.

Feel free to add your comments and ideas below.

Till next time, have a great day!


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is PR the holy grail?

I attended PR salon#1 last night in Amsterdam: Is PR the holy grail? It was a very interesting and inspiring event. PR is not something I normally handle or write about but I always found it an exciting and challenging discipline within marketing. Kerrie Finch- Founder and CEO of FinchFactor is the lady behind this event and a PR guru herself with a remarkable resume. She feels and maybe rightly so, that PR doesn’t get the respect, opportunities and understanding it deserves. She feels PR can do a lot more if given the chance, she would like to see that finally change. Like everything else in life, it all starts with a debate! The panel was composed of very capable, creative and inspiring people both from the PR and advertising world: Sasha Naod- Brand Communications Strategist, Anton jan Thijssen– Managing Director TBWA\Busted, Elroy Bos- Director Press & Communications at Greenpeace Netherlands and Richard Gorodecky- Executive Creative Director at Amsterdam Worldwide. Richard Gorodecky kick started the evening. His department is responsible for some great campaigns. The two we were shown and have later discussed involved bloggers strategy. He started with a question: “Is good advertising good PR? Is good PR good advertising?” He basically said his motto is (and it showed in his advertising campaigns)- “Do something worth talking about!” This is true I believe for both disciplines! It is the foundation to any successful marketing, advertising and PR campaign. I think that within any marketing mix and communication strategy, these two go hand in hand. They just play different roles within but both aim at a successfully long term, loyal and engaging relationship with the consumers. Advertising is short term however, it starts gets a dialog going with future consumers which is a key element and should be long term. A good ad gets the ball rolling so to speak. PR is more about long term effect, managing a brand or company’s reputation, preserving and nurturing that relationship while keeping the dialog going. It does start with an advertising campaign. The two should be used more in co-operate, this seemed to be the general consensus among the panel as well as the audience. Sasha was talking about the need to up skill PR personal, enhancing the creativity level. PR needs to have broader understanding of the social media platform as well. The PR people felt that if the potential of what PR can do will be understood, it would lead to greater results. Some audience members were talking about the fact that brands for example ask for their involvement and help in promoting an up coming advertising campaign at the very last minute therefore, not allowing PR really achieve to it’s full potential. In a way, social media is a cross over of many of these elements. Using the blogger strategy for example has proven time and time again that it can achieve great results! The exposure and reach is amazing, bloggers and readers sharing and engaging meaning they are paying attention and talking about the product or brand, spreading the word. Though its hard to say how much effect it has in terms of revenue. Name recognition, focused attention on a brand, shares and allowing the consumer to be involved and interactive contribute in a major way to sales as well in my view, it might just be harder to measure. So, is PR the holy grail? Please feel free to share, add your comments and ideas below.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Is social media the only marketing strategy you need?..

Last week I took part in a webinar discussing marketing and the role of social media within a business’s marketing mix.
The people that registered for the webinar, covered all aspects of marketing, online marketing, social media, PR and advertising. It was very interesting to brain storm and get a rounded opinion on this issue since social media frenzy in some cases, is an everyday discussion among professional marketers and business owners. What is the ideal plan for a business when creating a marketing strategy and a marketing mix? Can social media lead to paying clients or is it just exposure leading to name recognition?..Hmmm Just like in every other discussion, there were many different opinions and great oppositions:)
The most important issue leading to a very heated discussion was whether or not, social media presence such as Facebook or Twitter for example, can replace the traditional so to speak marketing tools. Some marketers seem to think that since everything is online these days, it’s how potential clients do most of their research and shopping online marketing using social media can be the primary marketing technic. They saw no need to add other tools to the mix. Other professionals, believe that since measuring ROI (return on investment) on social media is close to impossible and most people really don’t understand it though they will never admit to it, social media alone can not take the place of other methods of marketing. They saw it a waste of time actually. As the internet and social media evolve one thing is clear – Even the skeptics out there must admit that a brand must have an online presence, social media presence! It's about balance. Online marketing holds great oppotunities but they are not enough on their own. Old & New should be combined for maximium effect, I think the bottom line is indeed finding the right combination and balance between social media and other marketing tools fitting your specific business needs. Each business has different goals, targets different age groups ect. The social media strategies one chooses must be inline with these goals and ideas otherwise, all marketing efforts will be in vain. Building a website or creating a business page and assuming the clients will follow isn't enough, this is a learned skill and should be looked at it in this way. Social media marketing is more long term. It's about building online engaging communities & relationships and not about push marketing. Here comes the traditional marketing tools into play such as fliers, ads in the papers, sampleing and more. Make sure you create the right marketing mix covering all your bases. To your success!