Donald Trump may be a billionaire, but don't look to his tv show, "The Apprentice," for lessons in profitable marketing, unless you're looking for good examples of how to waste thousands of dollars on advertising that will never sell.
"The Apprentice", Episode 2, which aired on January 15th, gave two teams 48 hours to design a marketing campaign for a high-end corporate jet service. The teams were given complete access to the technology, research, and creative resources of a top Madison Avenue marketing company.
Here are six very expensive (and quite common) mistakes I noticed in this episode.
1. The entire campaign focused on completely unrelated sex references, purely for the shock value. They took various photographs of the jet at angles to create phallic images. They had slogans like, "How do you measure up?" And, "Do you fit in?" I don't dispute that sex sells. But, it really needs to be RELATED SEX, such as the idea that you'll get sex if you wear these jeans or this perfume! That was NOT the case, here.
2. There was no mention, whatsoever, of the benefits of riding in this jet.
3. Nothing differentiated this jet service from an ordinary plane ride.
4. Nothing called out to the ideal customer.
5. There was no way, from looking at these ads, to know what was being offered.
6. There was no call to action, no reason to call, no way to track the effectiveness of the campaign.
And this was the team that won! The team that lost had a very bland and generic campaign, but they at least TRIED to hint at a benefit. They tried to present the service as upper-class. They did at least SHOW a customer. But, the effort failed miserably. The team leader claimed to have worked for an advertising agency for 4 years!
The one good lesson Mr. Trump taught is that he fired the losing team leader for making a MAJOR mistake: he refused to talk with the client about what they wanted before creating the ad campaign due to time constraints. Foolish. Arogant.
In fairness, the judges never said they liked the winning campaign. They said they liked the fact that the winning team tried for something outrageous. But, that is still demonstrating a major flaw in typical Madison Avenue advertising: outrageousness over effectiveness; artistry over profitability.
Unless you have millions of dollars to throw at your own marketing efforts, here's what you should learn from the mistakes on The Apprentice:
1. Create a motivating message first. Graphics, artistry, and design come second.
2. Focus your message on clear, emotional benefits. When your ideal prospects see your ad or sales letter, they should instantly understand how using your product will make their lives better. They need to know why they should hand over their hard earned money to you.
3. Project your uniqueness. Make your prospects understand why they should choose you over your competition.
4. Design your ad to draw the attention and interest of your ideal prospects. There should be no doubt about who your product is for. A person reading a magazine, or glancing at the television, or scanning their mail should instantly know if they should pay more attention to your ad.
5. Be absolutely certain your ad clearly describes your offer. Don't make them guess.
6. Make sure your ad clearly explains what you want your prospects to do. Do you want them to pick up the phone and call? Do you want them to make a reservation? Do you want them to buy something? Do you want them to request a free report or video? Whatever it is, say so. Be clear. Be explicit.
7. Have a Tracking System in Place. Unless you like throwing money away, you need to know which ads are profitable and which ones are not. When your ad calls for an action, you can track the effectiveness of the ad by how much action it generates. It's extremely important that you do that.
Don't get me wrong. Donald Trump makes a few more dollars a year than I do *wink*. But, that doesn't mean we should take marketing lessons from his new show. Small businesses must be smarter and must insist on a return on their marketing investment much sooner than very large companies seem to expect.
Keith Price is the developer of The Magic Bullet software
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