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5 valuable marketing lessons you can learn from the mistakes of The Apprentice candidates

For 16 series, fans of The Apprentice have been tuning in to watch candidates battle it out to secure an apprenticeship or business investment from business magnate, Alan Sugar.

Over the years, there have been success stories and excellent examples of business acumen. But there’s also been plenty of mishaps and marketing errors that leave you wondering what the candidates were thinking.

Here is just a selection of the marketing lessons you can learn from the mistakes made on the show.

Sometimes less is more when it comes to design

Tasked with coming up with a campaign for a new cruise liner, teams in series 16 were given plenty of opportunities to get creative. But the losing team demonstrated why, sometimes, restraint is needed when pulling ideas together.

The men’s team pitched a wellbeing cruise aimed at older customers. So, a logo that brings together the sea, yoga, and relaxing sounds perfect.

That’s not quite how it worked out though. The result was dubbed the “worst logo ever,” and it’s easy to see why.

Target the right people for your business

You can spend a huge marketing budget and get little in return if you’re not targeting the right people for you.

The first episode in series 11 was a disaster for team Connexus. They missed the vital lunchtime trade and failed to have an effective pricing strategy when selling fish-based snacks.

In a bid to make sales, the team started to approach cafes. That sounds like a great plan until they attempted to sell to a vegan restaurant, wasting precious time.

Understanding who your ideal client is and the problems you can solve for them is a must to get the most out of your marketing campaign. As a financial planner, setting out your ideal client, and the problems you will help them solve, can deliver far better results.

Know what you’re good at, and stick to it

Having too much on offer can be confusing for potential clients.

Outlining your niche and why potential customers should come to you can help you effectively market your brand and encourage prospects.

In series 8 of The Apprentice, one team failed because they had too many products being sold under one brand name. Despite arguably having the better affordable luxury idea, “Sweet Thing” failed to secure enough sales of luxury confectionary because there were simply too many options.

On your website or any other marketing materials you use, be clear about the types of clients you work with, and the service you offer. It can help prospects see why you’re right for them and it means you’re engaging with potential leads from the outset.

Don’t underestimate the value of a proofreader

In the current series, team Diverse lost the gaming task partly due to a glaring typo.

With an education game set in the Arctic, you’d think they’d double-check the spelling of the title during the design process. Yet, the final title was “Artic Saviour”.

It was a mistake that didn’t go unnoticed by the expert panel. And, unsurprisingly, it didn’t help to instil confidence in the potential investors.

The team was also quizzed about how many penguins there were in the Arctic after they featured heavily in the demo despite there being zero penguins in the region.

Another pair of eyes can help you sense check the materials you’ve prepared and avoid mistakes like this.

Listen to client feedback

Market research is an essential part of The Apprentice tasks that involve creating a new product. It can provide valuable insights and an opportunity to make final adjustments.

But all too often, the candidates stick to their original vision and disregard what prospective customers are telling them.

Back in series eight, the teams had the difficult task of creating new inventions. You might be able to forgive the terrible ideas – a wipeable bath screen called “Splish Splash” and a food waste compactor – but there’s no excuse for disregarding market research or failing to adapt products or pitches to the feedback.

As a financial planner, you may hear feedback from clients when they attend meetings or send out a client survey. Both of these can be a valuable resource for understanding what you’re doing well and where improvements could be made.

Positive feedback from existing clients can also be used to encourage prospects to get in touch if you use it right, so it’s a win-win.

Need help with your marketing and brand?

Whether you want to refresh your logo, build a client survey, or post regular blog content to engage with prospective clients, a marketing professional can be invaluable.

As experts in finance and marketing, we’re here to help you navigate the challenges, avoid mistakes, and get the most out of your marketing budget.

Email or call 0115 8965 300 to talk to us.

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