Pandas, Pickles and Politics: Business Lessons from the Week

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Rachael Simpson, Marketing Support Analyst at Usomo, reviews the week’s events to see what business lessons we can learn.



If there’s one thing we can learn from Edinburgh’s fussiest eaters, it’s that we shouldn’t underestimate the power of investment in an economic downturn. At £640,000 per year to rent, a one off enclosure cost of £250,000 and £70,000 per year to pay for their munchies, Edinburgh Zoo has certainly made an investment. But has it paid off? Well, tickets are currently sold out until April 16th, and you certainly can’t have missed all of the panda-monium on the news this week. From railway tickets to hotel rooms, the benefits and publicity our furry friends have brought to Scotland surely will outweigh their cost.

Like the Zoo, Primark have invested heavily during the economic downturn, and it is paying off. In comparison to the other budget stores, such as the recent economic casualty Peacocks, Primark has a contemporary format. This attracts younger clients who see the shop as quite trendy, and it’s this investment which really sets Primark apart from its competition. As a result of its success, Primark has not only chosen to invest in fixtures and fittings, but also in expansion. So what can we learn? If you know your product is right, have the confidence to invest- it might just pay off.


Michael Copp got the chop this week when our Apprentices got themselves into a pickle. They forgot one of the most important business rules; product is paramount. Team Phoenix completely lost focus on what they aimed to achieve; a low-cost, mass-market table sauce. They ended up with an expensive, niche Italian sauce, which also happened to have a spelling mistake in the middle of the label. Not ideal. When a team who turns up to a retailers tasting session without a product to taste beats you, you know it’s gone bad.

Michael’s problem was that he didn’t sell enough, but the product was so wrong his task of selling became impossible. So what does this teach us? The main focus of any business should be on its product. If the route to achieving your product is well thought out, and your product is well suited to the market you’re aiming for, the rest of your task becomes infinitely easier


George Galloway took to Twitter this week to celebrate becoming MP for Blackburn. Unfortunately for him, residents in Blackburn could be forgiven for being a little perplexed; he’d actually won the election in Bradford West. No amount of claiming that his Twitter had been hacked could save the embarrassment that had been caused. So what does George’s mishap teach us? Never lose connection with your customer base.

Many successful businesses lose connection with their customer base by making social networking blunders. Does anyone remember how Microsoft encouraged us to “Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading Back to Black over at Zune”? Then there was fashion guru Kenneth Cole, who tweeted “Millions are in uproar in Cairo, rumour is they heard our new Spring Collection is available.” Hmm. So what can we learn? Whatever message you are trying to convey to your customers, make sure it is well thought out. Social media can be beneficial, but it can also be dangerous. If you’re thinking of a new slogan or something to say online, always remember, “Nothing Sucks like an Electrolux.”

Rachael Simpson, Marketing Analyst Usomo LTD

Usomo is a company providing VoIP solutions to small businesses. It provides both single-user and multi-user VoIP with various PBX features. For more information, please visit:


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