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Marketing / Business marketing

Marketing lessons from reality TV

Watching reality TV is a guilty pleasure, but viewers can take heart in the fact it can also be educational, especially in the area of small-business marketing.

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Whether it’s a talent competition, a cooking contest or a renovation challenge, reality shows teach three key business marketing lessons.

1. Stories sell

The singer who is doing it for his dying grandma (who raised him from age 3) will always get a better response than the spoilt teenager who has a lifetime of singing lessons (and an attitude) under her belt. Your business needs to be able to tell a genuine story that resonates with your ‘viewers’. Do this, and you’ll get the votes (aka clients).

2. If it works, stick with it!

As a business owner, have you ever dreamt up a new and exciting idea to promote your business, only to find it didn’t work? Stop for a moment and consider renovation shows and cooking shows. At their basic level, there’s really not much difference between them other than the channel they’re shown on – and that’s because the stations know the formula works.

"Your business needs to be able to tell a genuine story that resonates with your 'viewers'. Do this, and you’ll get the votes (aka clients). "

If you’ve hit on a successful marketing strategy for your business, then use it again. Make small variations rather than a complete overhaul for subsequent promotions. Also, look at what works for competitors. The ‘me too’ approach isn’t always a bad thing.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business marketing section.

3. Know when something is not working

Even with all their promotional power, reality shows can be huge flops. Just remember The Mole, Celebrity Splash, or So You Think You Can Dance. All have been successes in some markets (or at some time), but have failed in the Australian market. Whether it’s your business model or your promotional methods, have a monitoring system in place to quantify your results and track the performance of different aspects of your business.

TV shows with bad ratings are usually mercilessly scrapped or put in a late-night timeslot – and the equivalent treatment should be given to business operations that aren’t performing. Don’t waste time or money on flops.

So, if you find yourself watching reality TV this week, don’t feel guilty: just say it’s all in the name of research.

What business marketing lessons have you learnt from reality TV?

Sarah-Joy Pierce and  Allan Johnson

are business coaches and the authors of Build Your Business, Build Your Life. Their mission is to help business owners enjoy their business and their life.

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