Be Careful What You Learn From Donald Trump’s New Show
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
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
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
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
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
Your Sales Copy Ammunition
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