This years apprentice lesson #9: It’s all about the product
The biggest lesson from this week’s apprentice surely has to be DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PERFORM A ROLE-PLAY AS PART OF YOUR PITCH. Not since I was about eight years old, and in the sitting room with the rest of the family, just at the moment that a heavy petting scene on Dallas started to unfold, have I felt so utterly embarrassed by something on the TV. It was totally cringe-worthy and Melody in particular, with her Global comms’ business background, should have known better.
Putting all that to one side, I think things are really starting to heat up. The candidates have spied the finish line, and the possibility they might actually win is starting to feel very real. And the tasks just keep on rolling, the pressure keeps on building and the bitching never seems to end! Here at Chatter this week, we’ve been running some brand development workshops of our own for two separate clients. We’re helping them articulate what their organisations are all about, making sure they’re well aligned to their target audiences, and starting to explore what advertising and marketing options will really help them grow. When you consider these guys have two days to design, produce, package and sell a new product, you realise just how tall an order some of these tasks are.
The winning team this week (Helen, Jim and Natasha) was decided by the volume of orders placed by the retailers they pitched to, and with three to go at, there was a fair chance for each to get a share of the action, regardless of the market they were trying to tap into. With a product like biscuits, and clients like supermarkets, it’s a safe bet to appeal to the masses. And this is where Helen’s team made their mark. Was it the better product, possibly not. Did they have the best thought out strategy, erm no. Did their packaging stop you in your tracks, not particularly. But they did appeal to a big group of biscuit consumers – kids. And with Asda purchasing with Mums all over the country in mind, it turned out to be the golden ticket. EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITS, you can’t much argue with that.
On the other hand there was Zoe’s team (Zoe, Susan, Tom & Melody). They created a biscuit that was sired by a shortbread and born from a digestive, before being dunked into “cheap, common tasting chocolate” – to quote Zoe. It was a fairly pedestrian sweet treat which was boxed up to be something it definitely wasn’t – luxurious. And the thing with any brand is this, it must deliver the experience your customer will anticipate from the way it is packaged and sold. So if your packaging says silk but your product is nylon, you’ll be in for a bumpy ride.
Brands and the way they’re marketed can’t be isolated from the product itself. A good brand captures the essence of the product and the marketing strategy makes sure the right people see it. A bad product will always be just that. And as an Art Director (who shall remain nameless) once said to me (after reviewing a brief to rebrand a notoriously difficult organistion) – Paul, you can’t polish a turd.
So if you’re interested in brand and reputation, think about the inputs you can make to improve the quality of your product and therefore the experience of your customer. In our world, that’s about having a fantastic employee experience to tell new talent about, for Zoes team, it ought to have been a chocolate hob nob – now there’s a biscuit!