Shark Tank enters its tenth season as popular as ever. Over the past decade, millions of people have watched fascinated as entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas and startups in the hopes of winning an investment and support from self-made millionaires and billionaires.
The multi-Emmy® Award-winning reality-based show has had a tremendous impact on the business world and has been a major influence on the increased popularity of becoming an entrepreneur. Over the years, the show has evolved into one of the world’s top platforms to launch a business and recently reached an astonishing $100 million in deals offered in the Tank.
I was recently invited to attend a private event hosted on the set of Shark Tank to celebrate their 10th season and met with all the Sharks and most of the guest Sharks for the current season. This year’s guest list includes luminaries:
- Charles Barkley, Hall of Fame NBA star and TV analyst
- Alex Rodriguez, legendary baseball player and businessman
- Rohan Oza, an iconic brand builder and marketing expert
- Sara Blakely, founder and owner of SPANX brand
- Matt Higgins, the co-founder and CEO of RSE Ventures and vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins
- Bethenny Frankel, TV celebrity, author, and founder of Skinnygirl brand
- Jamie Siminoff, the CEO of RING, who rejected an investment offer in season 5, but went on to sell his company to Amazon for a whopping $1 billion.
My better half was also invited, and we arrived promptly on time at Studio 24 inside of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, CA. We were greeted by the cordial staff who informed us that the Sharks were still filming the last takes of the day. After several minutes, we were invited to chat with the Sharks on the main floor where nervous entrepreneurs excitedly pitch their companies to the investors under the bright lights of the studio set.
I was curious to know what excited the Sharks the most about their tenth season and what they believed to be the best advice for an entrepreneur to help make their business famous.
1. Create an ingenious product
When asked, Lori Greiner said, “It’s a mix, right? Of smart marketing and ingenious product. For example, Scrub Daddy was a technology. So, taking that one sponge, which was revolutionary, changed the whole sponge arena. We now have, to date, 20 different SKUs, and we have 30,000 new retail locations and 170 million in sales. That’s what takes it from one idea to a global brand.”
Of course, skillfully promoting your product on a platform like QVC is another excellent way to make your business famous. The day after the Scrub Daddy episode aired, Greiner helped CEO Aaron Krause sell their entire inventory of 42,000 sponges in less than seven minutes on QVC.
2. Leverage social media marketing
During my chat with Bethenny Frankel, she stressed, “Social networking is so important. Also being a little bit disruptive now … and you have to be creative. You have to be creative. The President was the most disruptive candidate that there’s probably ever been in history. He got people’s attention, and young entrepreneurs need to get people’s attention in some way. So be a little disruptive.”
Matt Higgins responded, “I’d say that you have to understand social and digital marketing. You can’t survive unless you understand Instagram, Snapchat or all the tools out there. You have to be contemporary.”
Barbara Corcoran claimed, “Every one of us successful entrepreneurs, for the last two years, were phenomenal at social media. It’s true. No exceptions.”
No smart entrepreneur will deny the power of social media when it comes to making your company famous. With more than 2 billion people worldwide using some form of social media, any business can put their business in front of a large audience, especially if they can create content that goes viral.
3. Build a community
Daymond John stressed the value of building a community. “You’ve got to build a community,” stated John. “Nobody needs to buy anything new in this world. They only buy it because there’s some form of community and/or need that you are supplying for them.”
John speaks from experience. He built a successful clothing empire by creating a vast community of his own via his clothing brand FUBU. John wisely invested in celebrity endorsements, making him an early pioneer of modern influencer marketing.
If you lack the resources to build your own community from scratch, you can leverage the power of others. Partnering with influencers who have cultivated their own communities allows you to introduce your product or service to larger audiences. In fact, some consider Shark Tank to be the world’s largest business influencer platform.
4. Devise a publicity hook to win earned media coverage
Barbara Corcoran also said, “I’d say you need a publicity hook. Some hook, angle or gimmick that grabs the attention unfairly from your competitors.”
Remember, Shark Tank is a unique combination of reality television, business acumen, and entertainment. Doing something unique, different, or disruptive can get you significant media attention and abundant free publicity… especially if you’re able to leverage that publicity and captivate the show’s producers, who decide your fate as to whether you’ll appear on the show.
Regardless if you want to appear on Shark Tank or not, being featured in the media is a way to differentiate your business from the competition and reach a broader audience. Be creative and willing to take educated risks when it comes to getting noticed by the media. You should always be actively building relationships with media representatives and ask for their insights when formulating your plan.
5. Know your strengths and stay focused
When I asked for billionaire Mark Cuban’s insights, he thoughtfully replied, “Knowing your unique advantages, play to that, and your strengths. And focus. You know, what happens is very often people start with an idea, get a little bit of traction, then it gets hard. And when it gets hard, they start looking for other things to do as opposed to playing to their strengths. Because businesses aren’t supposed to be easy. You know, if they were easy everybody would already be rich, and we’d all be sitting on a beach somewhere. And so, when it gets tough, you gotta dig in and work hard. I’d say the final thing I’d add is that sales cures all. There’s never been a business that succeeded without sales. So, if you focus on selling … if you’re able to sell … and that’s something that is one of your core competencies, then you’ll be okay.”
These are wise words from one of the world’s few billionaires.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.