Small Business Marketing as Entertainment

Can witnessing the inner workings of small businesses be exciting? Anyone who operates a small business certainly knows it can be. Watching ABC’s Shark Tank is a fascinating study in small business marketing, business analysis, financing and negotiation. If you haven’t seen the show, here’s the premise:

“Budding entrepreneurs with big ideas can still make their dreams come true and ABC is about to give them the chance to make it happen. Each week a group of self-made millionaires [Sharks] from all corners of the business world take their own hard earned money and offer everyday people their one true shot at making their dreams a reality. Some will sink, some will swim and some will be eaten alive.”

The show’s investors (or “Sharks”) are start-up and entrepreneurial experts. Small business owners can learn a wealth of free knowledge from these investors.  In the final episode of Season 2, watch some interesting and instructive entrepreneurs as they wheel and deal with the sharks. There’s a custom jewelry artist trying to take his designs to the masses. Another woman has patents for a brilliant shoe design that lets women change the uppers while using the same sole– perfect for traveling.

In this clip, a woman makes the case to reposition her maternity clothing brand in face of a declining boutique women’s market. But, as the sharks adeptly conclude, this strategy will require as much investment as building a new brand from nothing (and in a still-persistent tough economy, no less):

From a marketing perspective, it’s interesting how many entrepreneurs benefit from the show just by making the pitch and explaining their innovative products to television audiences. These entrepreneurs might make a deal, or they might not, but the exposure does wonders for their marketing. It’s a good strategy, and I recommend it for charismatic entrepreneurs selling a great consumer product.

Having all those sharks devouring her desserts helped Daisy Cakes‘ founder Kim Daisy sell a lot of cake. And Rebecca Rescate of CitiKitty may not have overly impressed the sharks, but her great presentation certainly won over many cat lovers, causing shipping delays from the high order volume. Watch her presentation below:

I definitely recommend this show to small business owners. It’s rare that you get free advice that’s worth more than you pay for it.

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