3 Early Observations From ‘Shark Tank’ Email

As a rule, I’ve never liked reality television shows. But because of some of the email I’ve been getting, I’m more than happy to make a big exception.

As a rule, I’ve never liked reality television shows. But because of some of the email I’ve been getting, I’m more than happy to make a big exception.

It’s ABC’s “Shark Tank,” which has become one of the few must-sees on my schedule. In case you’ve missed it, the basics are pretty simple. Entrepreneurs seeking money for their business or idea make a pitch before a lineup of six “sharks” — potential investors — who then have to decide whether to make an equity offer or bow out.

There are questions about the product, the business model, actual profits, even the character of the entrepreneur. There are lump-in-your-throat moments when budding businesspeople talk about their struggles and what’s inspired them to innovate. There are cheers from the winners. And there’s lots of dramatic music.

notsimplysharkIt’s seriously addictive. Last fall, I started watching replays on CNBC, following the cover story and interview we ran with FUBU founder (and shark) Daymond John.

Some of the programs date from as far back as 2009, when it premiered. So I started to think about some of the products and services that tried to get funding. Did the victors make it? Did the rejected contestants succeed anyway without help from the sharks?

While watching the show, I’ve been looking up the business hopefuls with my smartphone. I check out their websites, and because Who’s Mailing What! looks at email, I sign up for that too.

Here are some quick takes on what I’ve seen so far for businesses that didn’t succeed in hooking any of the sharks. Please keep in mind this isn’t scientific, just my two cents.

1. Leverage Shark Tank

EcoNutsQuite a few companies advertise their appearance on “Shark Tank” on their websites, which is pretty smart for several reasons. These shows are constantly being repeated, which advances consumer awareness.

Eco Nuts manufactures and sells natural soap nuts for laundry use. It often refers to “Shark Tank” in its emails, like a recent one announcing a sale: “Shark Tank Special: Buy 2 Get 1 Free.” It also announced the upcoming date for its appearance to be replayed.

2.  Create Community

NajaTopAnother “Shark Tank” reject is Naja, a lingerie brand. As shown on the company’s segment, it employs single women or heads of household to sew its garments at above-market wages. That message appears at the bottom of each email.And many of Naja’s emails highlight famous women in history while making only a minimum sales effort.

3. Keep Yourself Top of Mind

eCreameryDespite not being funded, eCreamery, which creates and ships custom ice cream and gelato, has managed to find success thanks at least in part to exposure from the show.

Within moments of signing up for its email, I received a confirmation request. It was soon followed by an email thanking me and offering a 10 percent discount on my first order. How many other people watching either the original segment or the follow-up were sent an offer?

I’m going to continue looking at what these and other “Shark Tank ” companies do to market themselves with email, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you watch the show? Do you follow any of these companies after they appear there, win or lose? Let’s talk.

 

The First Marketer Daymond John Ever Hired

One topic that came up during our interview with Daymond John was what he looks for in a marketer, and what made him hire his first.

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Daymond John — Star of Shark Tank, Founder of Shark Branding, Founder of FUBU.

One of the interesting topics that came up during my interview with Daymond John was what he looks for in a marketer, including who was the first marketer he ever hired, and why.

Here’s that story. And if you want to read more, including his recommendations when you’re marketing to a culture you don’t know well, click here to download the full interview (transcript and audio).

Thorin: Do you remember the first time you hired someone in marketing for FUBU?

Daymond: The first time I hired somebody in marketing was basically public relations. It was a fusion of public relations and marketing, and perfect example of what you’re asking if people weren’t part of it and how did they help.

I did an event at Macy’s, it was with LL Cool J. The woman that worked over at Macy’s side who was there to look over the event, she was an African-American woman, but she had just came back from Japan, and she was a ballerina for most of her life, and she was in France and Japan and wasn’t exposed to hip-hop — didn’t know what it was. She grew up in Jersey at a younger age.

But she handled the event with LL Cool J and us. And the people at Macy’s, they were okay, but they kind of were like … they weren’t treating us — remember, this was when hip-hop and hip-hop empowerment was young — they weren’t treating us, like, the best. You know? They kind of gave us a side area and they told her, “Eh, Just do what you can for the guys, they’re cool, but you know, whatever.”

And I loved her, and I loved how professional she was, and I hired her. And I remember her coming on board, and she didn’t know not one rapper, not one artist, but she knew how to communicate and get this information out to whatever magazine. Once she started talking to all the rap magazines and all the media outlets, she carried herself like a professional like she did in France and in Japan, and she communicated like she was at Macy’s.

A general view during the filming of Mark Burnett's "Shark Tank" in Chatsworth, Calif. on July 13, 2009 (by Sarah Hummert for Daymond John).
A general view during the filming of Mark Burnett’s “Shark Tank” in Chatsworth, Calif. on July 13, 2009 (by Sarah Hummert for Daymond John).

She didn’t go in there and try to have the hip-hop lingo and everything else. She went in there and she treated other people like professionals, and they actually stepped up their game and respected her, and the communication got better. And I think that that was part of how hip-hop has grown, from people of different cultures and different levels taking the same fundamentals they practiced and moving it and using it where, initially, hip-hop was just the music from the streets.

That was my first person, and she stayed with me for 20 years. She’s still with me today. Her name’s Leslie, Leslie Short. She handles some other stuff now, but that was the prime example of what you were talking about [earlier, about how to market to an audience you don’t know well]: She didn’t have anything to do with hip-hop at the moment, but she was a professional and she acted and carried herself that way and treated the brand that way.

Daymond John on Marketing – The Complete Interview and Audio

A couple magazine issues ago, I interviewed “Shark Tank” star Daymond John for our cover story “The Shark on Marketing.” That story included excerpts from our interview, but there were a lot of things we didn’t have room to fit in the magazine. Now you can read — and listen! — to the complete interview.

Daymond John on Marketing - The Complete Interview
You can hear the whole conversation between Thorin and Daymond John by downloading the whitepaper.

A couple magazine issues ago, I interviewed “Shark Tank” star Daymond John for our cover story “The Shark on Marketing.” That story included excerpts from our interview, but there were a lot of things we didn’t have room to fit in the magazine.

Now you can read — and listen! — to the complete interview in one handy PDF that you can download right here. (The audio is embedded in the file, so it’s about 20 megs.)

What takeaways didn’t make the cover story? For starters, here are some things John sees marketers getting wrong and right in their marketing.:

Thorin: When you see a company that’s getting its marketing wrong, how do you most often see them going wrong with that?

Daymond: When I see companies doing their marketing wrong, I see that they are not upselling and they don’t have a good CRM system and/or a way to really, really engage a current customer and keep upselling them in a way that it’s beneficial for both parties, them and the customer. Not offering them incentives to loop other people in and benefit all of them.

That’s the basic one. I see the fact that they’re saying, “Well, we know that our customer acquisition cost is $7,” or whatever the case is. Unless you go look at new pockets to find people instead of really, really trying to find a way to increase the offering to the current customer, that’s one of the things.

The other thing is, as I shared with you, they don’t create a lifestyle or a following. They just, as I said, [it’s like they’re doing a TV show and] 27 minutes is commercials and three minutes is information. So they don’t give the customer anything to take and learn and use in their life for their own benefit, not for the brand’s benefit.

Thorin: Other than doing those things correctly, is there anything else that you really notice when a marketer is doing it right?

Daymond: Yeah. You know what I’ve learned? When I see the guys that I know that I respect do it right, they start off the relationship with somebody from a transaction standpoint.

[Rather than saying] “Let me give you something free, free, free, free, free, and then hook you on something,” they generally have started off with the hook. “Let’s have a transaction now, and we will continue after this to always provide stuff for you free.” But at any given time, you were converted from transaction one. Now we’re going to give you a lot of stuff that’s going to improve your life, but we know anytime we have something to sell you, you believe in us already because the relationship was based off of a transaction.

I generally see that working more than the one before where it’s, “Try this for 30 days, try this, try that, try this, and then if you want more …” It just seems to be a little bit more successful at this point.

In a couple weeks, I’ll post about what John looks for when hiring marketers. But you don’t have to wait! Click on that link and you can read and listen to it all today.

It felt like a great interview to be a part of, and I think you’ll benefit from reading or hearing the whole thing.