Use Reality TV To Get Your Business More Exposure
Television has changed in more was than just getting skinny enough to hang on the wall. There have been some amazing changes inside the TV set as well as outside of it. And aside from the size and quality of the images, the biggest changes have to be the number and popularity of reality shows we have now. I mean we’ve always had reality shows. Remember Ed Sullivan? Okay, maybe not. But at one time, reality TV primarily focused on things like who could dance, sing or make it in the “Real World.” It was mostly a gateway to a career in entertainment. Today, entrepreneurs are using reality TV as a way to grow their businesses faster than a 30-second infomercial.
Before you whip out your cell phone and start coaxing your cat to play the piano while wearing, eating or drinking your product, stop and think for a minute. You need to know what you’re really getting into by creating your own reality show. Using a reality TV show to make a name for your business may sound exciting, but there are a few requirements for becoming a rock-star reality personality. If you watch as many reality shows as I do, you know what I mean when I say not everyone has what it takes to make the cut.
What It Takes
If you’re still with me, understand that several factors are needed to make a reality TV show work for you. For starters, your business must be visually stimulating. You need to be able to make things, break things, demonstrate things, and make people laugh out loud and/or cry like babies. You need to be able to connect deeply and powerfully with total strangers. These shows are not exactly for accountants and lawyers! (Then again… those professions do make people cry a lot.)
Take, for example, “American Chopper,” “Ace of Cakes,” or “Brew Masters,” all of which make something. The characters are outrageous. They say crazy things, they do crazy things and you feel like you’re watching a train wreck, only a train wreck with a happy ending, usually. People who watch this stuff (me included) get caught in watching these things being made, and they get wrapped up in the story, and the people. All those things help create a bond, which keeps viewers coming back, and keeps advertisers buying ads.
By contrast, a show like “Pawn Stars” involves the strange and unexpected, with a little mockery, sarcasm and dysfunctional family dynamics stirred in for good measure. Although we may sometimes feel like changing the channel, millions of us can’t wait to see what the next weird or rare thing someone wants to pawn on the Las Vegas Strip.
There’s something for everyone. “The Locator” has women across America crying and slobbering tears on each other’s shoulders week after week at the heart-felt reunions.
These shows stand out because the characters make them interesting and exciting. Viewers want to tune in every week. They’re willing to schedule their jobs around their show so they don’t miss it each week. Even TIVO isn’t soon enough. So if you’re thinking you can get your own show off and running, you have to ask yourself – are you crazy enough to succeed? I mean, do you bring something to the table beyond an interesting story? Does your business make or do something that is visually interesting or unexpected? Do you have something that will bring out the worst and best in people? If you can say a resounding “yes!” to all three questions, then you might just have a shot (assuming you can pass the next requirement – being prepared).
Of course, there are some other things besides the volume and reach of your voice and how willing you are to play the fool, or tough guy or crazy, larger than life guy every week. You actually have to have a business mindset too. You need to have a business that can run without you being there 24/7. Making a TV show takes a lot of time. (I should know; I filmed my own pilot show, called “Bailout.”) You’ve got to commit about as much time, energy and resources to the show as you do to your business. Can you afford to take the focus off your business and put it on a TV show that may or may not go over?
Get ready to cry in your beer too. You also need to be prepared for the fact that, like mine, your first attempt at becoming a reality star may not pan out. Sure, you may feel that doing it anyway will still be worth the experience, fulfilling a desire, but face the fact there’s a good chance it won’t work out. You need to factor in that loss so if the show doesn’t go, your business will still go on.
Making The Call
In the end, only you, and maybe the friends who have been laughing at your routines for years, know if you really have what it takes to shine on the screen. If you don’t (and most of us don’t), then cut your losses now and focus your efforts on making a rock star business off screen – something that has a much higher payout rate in the end, any way.
But if you do think it’s a good fit, give it your best go. Just think what would have happened if Paul Teutul, founder of Orange County Choppers, had passed up the chance to do the “American Chopper” show. Rumor has it that he is now worth well over $25 million.
Check out this great article on entrepreneur.com, showing how a start-up was successful after Shark Tank.