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Dragons' Den digest: Week 3

July 27, 2010 by Cat Arnold

A slight shift from Wednesday to Monday for the remainder of this series of Dragons' Den. It will take more than that to catch us off guard.

If you missed last week's, catch up here and below you will find the highlights of episode three.

Quote of the Episode: "If you were to wear glasses you'd look a bit like Theo" Peter Jones

Idea 1
Product:
 Tatty Bumpkin - ethical children's brand
Investment sought: £200,000 for 20 per cent
Handling: A confident start but confused the Dragons with so many aspects of the business. She demonstrated one of the classes when Peter Jones questioned what her business is about. An argument broke out when questioned about her brand and she became defensive.
Outcome: No offers
Verdict: Lots of ambition but not a strong enough brand and an unrealistic business model.

Idea 2
Product:
Golfers' Mate - a pitch repair multi-tool
Investment sought: £100,000  for 12.5 per cent
Handling: A very shaky start, had to restart the pitch three times. Eventually recovered but was instantly faced with harsh criticism from the Dragons. He gave jokey responses to the Dragons' questions, which didn't impress them.
Outcome: James Caan offer: £100k for 30 per cent share – negotiated to 25 per cent with a proviso that they could buy back 15 per cent when James gets his £100k investment back, retaining a 10 per cent share – accepted
Verdict: Not a great pitch and quite blasé when questioned, however he managed to impress with his confidence in receiving bulk orders from large potential clients, which was enough to seal the deal.

Idea 3
Product:
Aquatina - a collapsable drinks bottle that can be re-used
Investment sought: £100,000  for 10 per cent equity
Handling: A very confident pitch but the Dragons found it hard to see the point of the product. Duncan Bannatyne became quite irate and threw the product across the den. As the questioning continued, the Dragons became more hostile, accusing him of 'pulling the wool over their eyes' and misleading them in regards to the point of the product.
Outcome: No offers
Verdict:
The Dragons struggled to see the point of the product and felt it was not a solution to the problem it was designed to solve.

Idea 4
Product:
FGH security - Manned security company
Investment sought:
£75,000 for 10 per cent
Handling:
An excellent pitch, very knowledgeable and instantly likeable. They presented an excellent business proposition which was attractive to all of the dragons. James Caan made an offer within minutes and was soon followed by the others. Deborah Meaden said she was finding it hard to think of reasons not to invest.
Outcome:
Joint offer – Peter Jones 50k for 10 per cent and Theo Phaphitis 50k for 10 per cent with 5 per cent of the equity given back to FGH when the investment is repaid. Offer accepted
Verdict:
A highly professional pitch which offered the Dragons an extremely attractive business proposition.

What did you think of the episode?

Related articles:

Seven killer facts you ignore at your peril if you want to stay in business

June 14, 2010 by Drayton Bird
  1. If you don’t deliver a good product or service you won’t succeed for long. No matter how good your marketing or advertising, you can’t sell rubbish indefinitely. Think of any business that’s gone down the drain.
  2. The customer you already have will always make about 3 – 5 times more money for you than an identical prospect – so pay more attention to them than anyone else
  3. Advertising is not the only, and often by no means the best, way to build a brand. In fact it can cost you a fortune without achieving anything if you don’t have more money than God.
  4. Most mergers and acquisitions end in chaos, misery and unemployment for the poor employees — and don’t create value. That is, the two firms together end up worth less than they were separate.
  5. All available research suggests that recommendation from others – word of mouth – is the chief reason why people buy. So if you don’t have a customer-get-a-customer or viral marketing programme, you’re mad.
  6. Instead of worrying about talking to your prospects and customers too often, you’re better off thinking of reasons and interesting ways to talk to them more. One of my clients e-mails prospects as often as twice a week successfully. We mail our own list even more frequently. Very few unsubscribe.
  7. Never assume because someone doesn’t buy they’re not interested. They have many things on their mind besides you. Keep communicating till it doesn’t pay.

Drayton Bird is a renowned direct marketing teacher, speaker and author. Find out more about him on his profile.

Crafting the email

May 21, 2010 by Karen Purves

Emails are the lifeblood of your communications.

  • You want people to read your material and respond.
  • You want people to feel good about seeing an email from you in their inbox.
  • You want to give your readers a reason to open your email.

That is all your email has to do.

It doesn’t have to close the deal. It doesn’t have to take the payment. Leave that for your website to do.

Then your reader has the option whether to click on the link and take it further or just consume the information you have provided.

To test the sort of content that is right for you, call a couple of prospects or clients and give them the information you want to send in an email. If you find your hands going clammy at the thought, then perhaps your message is not right at this time.

People will buy when they are ready to do so. There is nothing you can do to get them to buy quicker or differently to the way they will do so. It is your job to understand how your prospects buy and map your communications accordingly. A couple of things will happen – less of your emails will be found in the spam box and the number of sales will increase.

This blog post by Karen Purves originally appeared at HaveMoreClients.com

Five tips for a successful product launch

March 08, 2010 by Ben Dyer

I have recently been spending a lot of time thinking about product launches. My employer, SellerDeck, is a few weeks away from rolling out a major update to one of its ecommerce software products. While we have the advantage of an existing user base, many of the fundamentals for launching are the same whether it is an existing product or something completely new.

1. Understand the Unique Value Proposition

If your product is sat on the launch pad I would hope by this stage you know what it is that makes your offering different from the rest. The importance of your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) cannot be understated; it’s the lifeblood of any product launch. Review, discuss and research until you are totally convinced you have got it right; you only get one launch window.

2. Talk to prospective customers

Get out there and talk to the very people you want to sell your product to. Discuss your plans for the product, both now and in the future. Get their feedback; it could be you missed something.

3. How are you going to sell and market?

Choosing where to market your product can be difficult. Make informed decisions based on research. It might even be a good idea to run several small pilot schemes to see where you get the most success. However prepare to be ruthless if you’re not seeing the results. It’s easier to make decisions before you have spent the entire budget on something that’s not working.

4. Make yourself heard

Find out who the influential people are in your space and hustle, annoy and pester them. That is until you get a chance to demonstrate why your product is the best. Nothing is better than a personal recommendation regardless of the product or service. Go to events, chat to people and network, network, network!

5.  Bring the whole team on the journey

A successful product launch requires commitment and understanding throughout your organisation.

When President Kennedy visited NASA in 1961 he came across a cleaner, and asked him what his job was. The cleaner replied “My Job is to put a man on the moon, Sir”. Now that probably is the greatest launch of all time.

Ben Dyer of SellerDeck

The Real Thing?

June 22, 2009 by Ben Dyer

You can argue that the aim of marketing is to build momentum. You need to raise awareness and establish how people perceive your brand. Traditionally this worked well, but I have news for you -- attempting to set perceptions is becoming an increasingly dangerous strategy. You may recall a marketing campaign that had the sole intention of altering your perception of a brand. A soft drinks manufacturer who specialised in blackcurrant-based drinks had complaints about the sugar content and related tooth decay. This caused it to launch a low sugar version. It even had the cojones to sell it as “Toothkind”. The rebranding promoted health benefits and claimed four times the vitamin C levels of rivals. The inconvenient truth proved the product wasn’t good for your teeth and one drink in the range had negligible vitamin C! This little oversight cost the company significant sums of money. But the real stinker was the “corrective advertisements” it was forced to run on national television. It’s always been dangerous to try to build a false perception. Now the rise of social networking has upped the ante. There has been a seismic shift in our abilities to interact and talk to each other, and to build or rubbish brands that annoy us. We are the mob, and the mob is now all seeing. If you are bluffing, it won’t take long for people to find you out. It’s simple; the quality of your offering builds the perceptions. These will be based on fact and customer experience, not marketing spin. Ignore this at your peril.

Which chocolate do you prefer and why?

April 13, 2009 by

Market research — the name alone brings moans and groans from customers and businesses alike. Somewhere deep down, we know that it’s worthwhile filling in those seemingly endless surveys to end up with a better, brighter, tastier product or service.

Market research plays a vital part in any business as it gives you insight into your market, your competitors, your products, your marketing and your customers. This way you can make informed decisions, such as which chocolate Easter eggs to stock. And believe me, this is hugely important.

Market research helps you to reduce risks by getting product, price and promotion right from the outset. It also helps you focus your resources where they will be most effective. Much information is available online and from industry organisations, and some of it is free. This information provides data on market size, sales trends, customer profiles and competitors. Your customer records also provide a wealth of information, such as purchasing trends.

So that’s the theory. With our experts like Kate Willis of KW Research and Steve Phillips of Spring Research Ltd offering their hands-on advice and tips, you can turn the theory into good business practice.

To make sure you know how to plan your market research so that you can find out which chocolate your customers prefer, check the Marketing Donut website — it goes live on 20 April.

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