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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Lessons From The Apprentice (5.2)

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The Candidates

Synergy: Allie, Andrea, Brent, Michael, Pepi, Roxanne, Sean, Stacy, Tammy

Gold Rush: Bryce, Charmaine, Dan, Lee, Lenny, Leslie, Summer, Tarek, Theresa

The Task:

The teams work to put together a marketing campaign for the “Gillette Fusion razor system”. Whichever team gets the most cell phone customers to text message a key word to Gillette, wins.

Synergy: Led by Pepi the team immediately began to fall apart. Brent has already shown problems gaining the respect of his team and nobody wants to listen to his ideas. Stacy escalates things by constantly cutting Brent off, not letting him even bring his ideas to the table. Unfortunately, this prevents just about everyone from bringing their ideas to the table.

Brent tries to resolve differences with Stacy but she won’t listen and he gets in her face about it. When they return to the team Stacy says Brent threatened her. The problems escalate further when people start talking about firing Brent from the task. Pepi takes Brent outside to talk with him but immediately shows his inability to make leadership decisions. Brent is a problem but the way the team treats him is creating bigger problems for everyone. The whole Brent issue takes valuable time away from the team’s planning session.

Michael came up with an idea to wear bathrobes out on the street. When people asked why they were wearing bath robes they would them to send a text message to Gillette to get the answer.

While I didn’t think the bath robes was a terrible idea, the idea to rely on people to ask them why is bad. A good marketing campaign needs to be more proactive. This campaign is relying on the target audience to be proactive to them.

The next morning Synergy takes their time waking up and getting to the task. Gold rush is out the door before Synergy is even out of bed. One of the team members had to wake up Pepi . As team leader, it’s Pepi’s responsibility to make sure the rest of his team knows when to get up and what time they need to be out the door. This detail was seemingly overlooked, giving Gold Rush a significant advantage.

Once out on the streets, Synergy strikes out with their passive marketing campaign. Nobody cares about a bunch of freaks in robes. Brent decides to shake things up a bit, literally, and starts doing the robot and other blubbery dance antics to get attention. It works. It gets attention and the team is now able to tell people to send text messages.

Gold Rush: Lee leads the team for this task and tries to organize a brainstorming session for ideas. Without approval or a plan, Lenny takes Charmaine and Lesli to Times Square to begin promoting the product.

Later, while Lee wanted to get the group back together to go over a game plan, Lenny demanded that the rest of the team join his group at times square. Lenny hangs up on his project manager when he does not get his way.

Lenny’s showing leadership potential here, but unfortunately, he’s leading in a negative way. Instead of allowing the project manager to lead he is taking things into his own hands and causing discord with the team. It’s important to let your team leader set the agenda. A good leader, even when not in a leadership position, will often be able to get his ideas on the table and can then use his influence to guide a weak project leader gently into better decisions.

The following day, Gold Rush was up early and hitting the streets, with quality printed marketing signs and a desire to get the word out about the product and text message campaign. It was later revealed that they had over 100 text messages before Synergy was even out on the street.

Gold Rush took the time to put together a strong campaign that spoke to their audience and achieved results.

What I Might Have Done: The first thing to look for here is the demographic of the audience. While Gillette will take business from men of any age, the text message campaign was obviously targeting men in their late teens to early 30’s. I think either team would have done better if they sought out this audience in particular rather than random passersby in Time Square.

Once you know your audience you then have to figure out how to entice people to send a text message. Asking them is one way, but I would have given them something. If you want people to do something, giving them something in return is a great way to do that.

The teams could have given a free Gillette razor to anybody who text messages. As it was, both teams were simply looking for anybody to text, regardless if they were the target or not. This is called generating non-targeted leads. The raw numbers might be impressive, but they don”t produce the sales.

I immediately thought about hooking people up with a free song download. Those that text message are also those most likely to be downloading songs on a regular basis. I’d learn how to text message for a free song download or two! (Yeah, that’s right, I’ve never text’ed anyone before.) I think both teams would have done better with some kind of giveaway for anybody taking the time to text.

The result:

Gold Rush received 683 text messages to Synergy’s 458 messages. A clear victory to Gold Rush, and more than the 100 message margin Gold Rush got by hitting the streets early.

As Synergy contemplated their defeat, Stacy backtracked on her claim that Brent threatened her. The team, however seems pitted against Brent and feel that his needed babysitting is a liability. They are also concerned that he might “snap”.

The Boardroom:

Pepi immediately blamed Brent for the loss, ignoring the fact that Brent was the primary reason they got any text messages at all. I’m not a fan of Brent, but at least he did something. But Brent cannot get respect from his team, and probably rightfully so. When asked by Trump who should be fired, all but one said Brent.

Roxanne boldly laid blame on the project manager, Pepi. She said he lacked leadership and was therefore the cause of the loss.

The issue of Brent threatening Stacy was raised and Trump just couldn’t swallow that Stacy, a criminal defense lawyer, felt threatened by Brent in any way. She had a hard time making that case. It came out that Stacy was also responsible for picking the location, which Trump felt was a bad choice.

Michael was also hammered for the decision to wear bathrobes. Trump felt this was the worst of all ideas. I think if executed properly, it could have been a plus for the team, but the bath robes were the idea, rather than being a mechanism to execute an idea.

Pepi chose Brent, Stacy, and Michael to return with him to the boardroom. Suddenly Trump announced that he would be firing two people.

There was more blame being laid at Brent’s feet, but Pepi could not get away from his own lack of leadership on the task. Trump said that Brent was a disaster, but not the reason for the loss. Michael had potential and Trump will give him another chance, but also noted that if he comes up with any more bad ideas like the robes, he’ll be gone.

Stacy was fired for choosing a poor location and her inability to handle Brent. Pepi was fired for his inability to manage his team and for really not showing any kind of leadership potential. Both deserved to be fired.

Apprentice 5.2

Lessons Learned:

  • If you want to be a leader then you have to be able to show the ability to lead. You can’t let team members lead for you or allow them to lead against you
  • Team management is important. There will always be conflicts but as leader you need to get in front of those and get them worked out without taking the team away from the task. Sometimes hard decisions must be made quickly.
  • You got to find ways to work with people you don’t like. Don’t escalate a bad situation if you don’t have to. Learn to let others have their say, then move on with business. If you let others get under your skin, you’re letting them control you and the situation.

What would you have done?

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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