Spark into Marketing

Marketing and Inspiration for small businesses

Watching popular reality TV – good for your business?

Reality TV shows might be considered a waste of time.  Programmes like  Strictly Come Dancing, X Factor, The Apprentice, Masterchef, I am a Celebrity get me out of here, Big Brother, and the newcomers which are all about Sewing, or Pottery or Art.   .. there is a big list of reality TV shows.

I have to make a confession here.  I do enjoy reality TV shows especially the ones where people learn new skills.  I do find them incredibly inspirational!

Although all that wheat and sugar may not be good for your diet, the Great British Bake Off, for example,  can be good for your business health.

Will I learn to dance the tango or the American Smooth from watching Strictly?  Unlikely.  Will watching Bakeoff help me to bake a beautiful version of the Showstopper? I have got to be honest, probably not.  Although watching Masterchef has definitely encouraged me to cut vegetables smaller!  (But have I cooked any of their recipes? No.)

The promise of the unlived life on reality TV

But even while I am sitting on the sofa, do I feel inspired to get out to a dance class, pick up a paintbrush, or get into the kitchen?  Yes. We feel as if we could do these things … if we chose to.

Reality TV shows let you indulge in a life you may not have lived.

My absolutely favourite show of all time was on years ago, called “Faking It” where a complete beginner received expert help and support and entered a competition with people who had been doing the activity a long time.  Judges had to tell who was the “fake” which was often remarkably difficult.  It gave a great sense of possibility as you watched the show.  You felt you could be a steeplechaser, high diver, racing car driver etc with the right support.

The promise of the life you haven’t yet experienced is very powerful for your potential clients, too.  They, like the audience, need to see that these things are possible.

Watching reality TV means the drama of success and failure.

These shows let us experience at second hand what it must be like to do those things.  We see it all through the eyes of people who make mistakes, behave well or badly and overcome obstacles. Because we seem them actually during the process and not simply giving a presentation at the end, we get involved and we care more.

It is the journey that counts not simply the destination.  Interesting television that pulls in large audiences includes some drama – there need to be high and low points – and best of all we like to see people recovering from setbacks.  In Britain we are particularly good at wanting an underdog to win through.

The names change, the format of the shows change, but the formula remains the same.

As a business owner these TV shows are a useful reminder that personality and flaws are often what appeal.  Straightforward competence is impressive, but we like the human element, too.  It makes the process more memorable, and lets us engage more emotionally, which is ultimately very satisfying.

So whether you are doing a video, podcast, writing a blog post or giving a presentation, remember people like to identify with you.  Don’t be scared of making mistakes or of not being perfect. It will make you seem more real, more authentic, and the chances are they will remember you better.

If they share some of the highs and lows with you, they will be more involved in the process.  They may trust you more, and might let you be the bridge between where they are now and where they want to be.  Your potential clients don’t really know whether you can help them, but they definitely know whether they like you, and whether they can identify with you.

Reality TV lets you join in a conversation.

As the finals approach the conversations about the programme intensify.  Whether on social media, in person or in your writing you can comment on what is taking place.

Even better you may find that elements of the programme can be a metaphor for what your business does.

I remember the days when we all watched “Morecambe and Wise” on a particular night, and had conversations about it the next day at work.  So much of our culture is now fragmented, it is special when you watch one episode and have to wait for a week before the next. You might find you create an additional link with someone – client or prospect – when you share your views about reality TV shows.

Being able to talk about something that “everybody is talking about” shows that you have your finger on the pulse of what is going on.  Most people have views on them, and these views reveal values.   If you are completely ignorant of the modern world it may be harder for you to relate to your clients.

Choose the shows you watch. Stand up for the programmes you like and be able to share your views.  Don’t force yourself to watch something you thoroughly disapprove of, because the chances are that your ideal client wouldn’t dream of watching it either.

Listen to Jean Wolfe’s interview with Paul Bell, winner of the reality TV show the BBC Big Painting Challenge on Marlow FM.

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