Yesterday morning found me teaching and interacting with 12 seventh and eighth graders who are taking a class called “Entrepreneurship/Shark Tank Spring 2017.”
I must confess that preparing to spend an hour trying to connect with hormone-driven teens did seem a bit daunting. I was willing to give it try since other fellow Rotarians had returned unscathed from their experiences with them. I embraced the mentality “if they could do, so could I.”
Groups—consisting of various numbers of students—represented potential business concepts. There were five concepts in all that included a lawn mowing service, fitness program, dance squad, hair services and sweet grass roses.
To ensure engagement, I tried to make our hour together as interactive as possible. While there were several students that made me work very hard to get their participation, I can happily say that every single student did contribute.
Since there were several marketing acronyms to cover, such as TOMA, SWOT and USP, I began by asking them to tell me the meaning of abbreviations like LOL or BRB or TTYL.
From there we dove into TOMA. To help them understand the concept of Top of Mind Awareness, we played a game. As I called out a category, such as Fast Food or Car, they wrote down the first thing that came to mind.
We discussed how quickly and easily they could have a brand come to mind for pretty much any category. I explained how some brands spend thousands and millions of dollars to make sure they do come to the top of your mind. While others spend very little but still work hard to make a lasting impression and keep you engaged.
We talked about how it was important to make your brand stand out so it could be remembered by others.
This led to the discussion of the Blue Ocean Strategy. (This is a great book you should read if you haven’t read it already.) I discussed the concept of a blue ocean where you have no competitors and stand out because you’re different vs. the red ocean that is bloody because of all the competitors that look alike. We unpacked the blue ocean concepts created by brands like Nike, Amazon and Apple.
This led into conversations about looking at your competitors to analyze their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis), as well as their four Ps (product, price, place and promotion). The goal was to uncover how you could bring a unique offering to the market that helps you stand out of the red ocean and catapults your business into the blue ocean.
We concluded with a high-level discussion of creating your USP (unique selling proposition). And then I challenged them to take the next hour to research competitors to their business concept and uncover what they needed to do to make their business different.
It was a lot of content to cover in a short amount to time. Hopefully the exposure to these concepts can be used to guide them as they flesh our their business plans.
It will be interesting to see how the young Shark Tank Entrepreneurs apply this information to their plans.