“You should go on Shark Tank,” This is something that many entrepreneurs hear regularly. But, how realistic is that really? Working to get on the ABC reality show is a journey in itself and NOT easy; 10,000 on average apply for 120 slots.
But, what if is DOES happen to you like it did for our client TekDry?
If you are so lucky, here are some tips on how to make the most of this amazing opportunity.
The goals are to maximize and amplify the spotlight, to stretch that 15 minutes of fame into 45 minutes. A couple of the challenges making this more difficult include secrecy and short notice.
As with any reality TV show, the Shark Tank has very strict non-disclosure policies with significant consequences if they are violated. Expect to have to sit on the biggest secret of your company’s life, and not be able to leverage this information until the last minute.
While you know that your company made it the finals and filmed an episode, there are still no guarantees that your product will actually see airtime. The show typically films approximately twice the number of segments that there are slots for and you will only have about two weeks’ notice that your pitch was selected.
Planning with a team covered under an NDA is essential. Once you get the call, the next days and weeks will be insanely busy, and having a plan in place will help you capitalize and enjoy the ride.
First, assess your brand assets and determine if they are positioned to maximize the attention and can stand up to the increased traffic volume.
Is now the time to jump into Snapchat or Instagram?
Which platforms have you been using and will you be able to effectively support ongoing? You may think that the best way to take advantage of this opportunity is add more platforms to make sure your brand is everywhere. But, remember, you don’t have to do EVERYTHING, you just have to manage the social media you use effectively and consistently. However, if you are not on Twitter, this is the arena where you can immediately engage with viewers and Sharks during the airing.
Are your messages clear and consistent across all of your platforms? Your messaging matrix is a helpful tool for this audit. While your voice may have a different tone on different social platforms, the message should be consistent.
Develop and have ready messaging and responses and plan to have a team monitoring and responding live during the show’s airing. The Sharks, with their millions of followers, may tweet at you live during the airing and you want to engage in this conversation.
Reinforce and capitalize
Explore your hosting capacity and understand how much notice you will need to increase it. Ideally, you can pull the trigger as soon as you get the call. Refine the messaging and graphics but resist the urge to undertake major upgrades. Stability is key and now is not the time to introduce new uncertainty.
Shark Tank will provide you with photos from the set when you get the call. Be ready to immediately get these on you home page in a manner that reinforces your main messages. Don’t let “We are going to be on Shark Tank” appear anywhere without bridging it to your company’s mission and message. For example, instead of, “TekDry will be on Shark Tank,” we used messages like “TekDry Entrepreneurs swim with sharks but don’t worry about getting their phones wet.”
Make sure your security measures are all up to date. National attention also brings the attention of the hackers. The last thing you want is for someone to hijack your moment of glory.
Amplify the opportunity
The minute you get the green light, get on the phone with your local ABC affiliate, they are your most important ally. Getting them to do an interview in advance of the show is your best chance to easily secure national coverage in advance of the show’s airing. But you can’t assume they will be interested. Like any good PR pitch, you need to make the story relevant – and just being on Shark Tank might not be enough. If you succeed in getting your local station involved, make sure to ask them to make the interview available on internal ABC network. You can then pitch ABC nationwide and let them know that the package is available, making it an easy story for them to cover.
Again, it is PR 101, but customize your pitch as much as possible – the business angle, “hometown local” to appear, “college grad to appear,” etc.
Enlist your business or other partners help to increase your coverage. TekDry’s retail partner Staples offered help and PR muscle when they send out a news release announcing a partnership expansion. With TekDry, the original plan was to announce this at a later date, but they recognized the timing opportunity and this helped significantly increase the coverage. The idea for TekDry originated in a University of Denver MBA class. DU stepped up as an amazing partner hosting a viewing party and also helping to promote the story.
A few days before airing, preview video clips will be made available and this again is another media opportunity.
Viewing parties, private and public, are not only fun, but also provide photo opportunities for media. And following the airing, be prepared with results and metrics – website hits, social media results etc.
No one wants to think about what might go wrong at an exciting time like this, but that is exactly what you need to do. Spend some time outlining all the things that could go wrong and build messaging and plans to deal with it. For example: What if something negative mentioned on the show blows up and gets attention? What if the show is pre-empted? Hurricane Matthew was looming during our planning, so we had a “Plan B” ready for our live viewing party. What if, in spite of best efforts and planning, your website goes down?
Most importantly, entrepreneurship is a long road with hard work. While you are working to capitalize on this amazing opportunity, build in time to celebrate this success, enjoy the journey and thank your team and family. And then, take a deep breath, because everything outlined here is just for leading up to and during the viewing. Next you will want develop your strategic plan for the next week, month, quarter, and year to continue to get the most marketing value out of this incredible opportunity.