Posted 06 May 2011

The Apprentice’s Alex Epstein: Taking the Stage at Business North West

The Apprentice’s Alex Epstein: Taking the Stage at Business North West

“I was an apprentice before The Apprentice”

Alex Epstein takes the stage, before announcing in scratchy tones that his throat is a little worse for wear. Despite this, the Business North West audience is still hooked on every (slightly raspy) word he says. Nearly every seat in the Innovation Lounge is filled with various figures from the North West business industry waiting to hear what last year’s Apprentice candidate has to say. Especially since the new series begins next week; it’s fresh in our minds!

What has brought Alex to Business North West then? He first came to the event in 2006, of course before his stint in the Apprentice boardroom. He never dreamed he’d be back in a few years’ time as the keynote speaker! His talk here, titled “Brand storytelling – how to build ‘social media and buzz’ right into your products and services,” might just show how he has changed since then. After all, he claims: “I can’t use the Apprentice to build my whole career, but I can capitalise on it.”

If you look at Alex’s website, you’ll see his own entrepreneurial story. This is what he advises businesses to do themselves. But how can you build a story into your brand or product? Alex has a few examples for us, including Innocent Smoothies, SuperJam and TOMS. Each of these brands has a unique story that people will likely remember, more so than an excerpt of the latest whitepaper.

For instance, SuperJam started when 14-year-old Fraser Doherty spent a few pounds on fruit and got his grandma to help him transform it into jam, made without any additional sugar. He has had massive success from this associated story; it is both heart-warming and enviable! TOMS story too was memorable. Instead of being a run of the mill shoe company, TOMS has a simple premise. “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.”

As Alex says, these stories “create the potential to generate PR”. So how can you utilise this idea within your own business? Sharing the human side of the business is essential, as it can create a connection between the business and the customer. Think along the lines of interviews, pictures and dedicated web pages; all designed to show off what makes you unique. This can work whether you are B2B to B2C; after all, “B2B audiences are the same people – just between the hours of 9-5!”

On the topic of PR, Alex has an interesting analogy: “PR is like a moving train. You’ve got to get it going and build momentum.” He also states: “PR agencies can’t build stories out of nothing. There has to be a story there in the first place.”

So it seems that dear Alex has progressed since his high-pressured days in the boardroom. Here’s hoping that he now knows his way around the Trafford Centre too…

Our thoughts: As the leading call tracking and analytics company in the UK, we have our own insights into PR and where your leads come from. If you are going to be generating press releases, whether regarding “your story” or otherwise, you might want to include a unique “single number” for each of your releases. This will help you to identify which releases are generating the most calls to your business, and ultimately how they affect your bottom line. If you would like to find out a bit more about single numbers, please visit the main website to receive your individual (tracked) telephone number; then you can pick up the phone and talk to one of our friendly team!

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