After 15 successful seasons, you’ve probably heard of the ABC competition series, Shark Tank.
This popular reality show offers business owners and entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their ideas (some great, some… not so great) to real prospective investors.
If you’re an avid viewer like us, you’ll notice much of the advice given by these multi-millionaires is rooted in the same essential business lessons, which we dive deeper into below. Keep reading for five essential lessons viewers may remember learning about in the tank…
1. Know Your Audience
Season 1, Episode 5
In the premier season, the sharks hear from a Urologist who invented a discrete “golf club” that provides urinary relief on the course. “UroClub” was being sold to real customers who felt the product was valuable, but it was also being bought as a gag gift.
After hearing more about the product and sales numbers, Daymon, the self-proclaimed “brand whisper,” admitted he wouldn’t know how to market this kind of product, to which Barbara agreed. This offers an important lesson for entrepreneurs and marketers alike: You have to know your audience to successfully market a product or service.
It’s important to know who you’re speaking to, what they want and enjoy, and what they’re willing to spend their money on. Simply having perceived value isn’t enough—you have to know how to reach and resonate with your audience and inspire them to take action. That’s what effective marketing is all about!
2. Branding Makes a Difference
Season 4, Episode 7
One of the more well-known brands to come out of the tank, Scrub Daddy knew a thing or two about branding from the get-go… and the sharks noticed! Owner, Aaron Krause, started the pitch by presenting himself as the “ultimate daddy,” giving his brand a unique personality and putting a real smiling face behind the smiley-faced product.
Sure, the Scrub Daddy product is awesome. It solves multiple problems for anyone who cleans on a regular basis. But beyond functionality and an affordable price point, the brand is colorful, consistent, and FUN. So much so that it convinced Lori, one of the sharks, to invest despite other concerns. To use her own words: she instantly recognized Aaron had “a hero, not a zero,” and it wasn’t because of the product alone.
3. Bread and Butter > Big Ideas
Season 5, Episode 12
First things first: Big ideas aren’t bad! In fact, the right creative inspiration can go a long way in helping a business reach new heights. However, as told by the sharks in this episode, once you already HAVE a product or service your audience loves (and more importantly, buys), it’s not always the big ideas that keep you making the big bucks.
Take the holiday-themed apparel and merchandise company, Tipsy Elves, as an example. The two founders of this online company were killing it at SEO (search engine optimization), becoming the top search result in their primary sales categories. Being a seasonal company and feeling “maxed out” online, the duo was considering entering a crowded retail market—which can be a beast of its own.
The sharks’ advice was clear: stick to your bread and butter. Don’t try to do everything just because you can. As intriguing as new opportunities can be, this company’s sales weren’t hurting when they came to the sharks for an investment… but they could be after taking on substantial risk, which can come with changing up a winning strategy. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
4. Don’t Just Get to the Top — Plan to Stay at the Top
Season 9, Episode 5
Most business owners and brand leaders work their way to the top of their industry, looking for new opportunities around every corner. Their goal? To be the best of the best in their product or service category. But what happens once they make it to the top?
As the sharks advised, there’s nothing wrong with taking time to celebrate success, but you should never stop long enough to fall behind again. In other words, keep planning ahead! Once your business makes it to the top, it typically becomes more difficult to stay there, especially if you’re in a competitive market like the photo technology brand “Mirmir” featured in this episode.
This is a key takeaway from the sharks throughout the series, and leads us to our next lesson…
5. Find the Right Partner
Season 14, Episode 15
One of the lessons that sticks out to us most is this: Product value matters, the right social media strategy matters, a company’s story matters… It ALL matters (and it’s all covered in this episode, too). But at the end of the day, “the best investment can be in the right people.”
Long-time shark, Barbara, said this just before landing the deal with Eat Your Flowers, a high-end dessert company that uses edible flowers in its products. At Asen, we can’t stress the importance of this lesson enough. Finding the right marketing fit, whether it be on an internal team or through an agency partner, can be essential in a business’s success.
If you’re searching for the right Knoxville marketing agency, check out this quick read on 4 things to look for in a partnership.