From the Entrepreneur’s Perspective: Do retailers want me to do a show like “Shark Tank”?

Your buyers/retailers care about their bottom line, as they should.  If that means you are driving sales to their doors, then yes you should consider a show like Shark Tank that has approximately 7 million  viewers and can create some amazing brand awareness, thus driving consumers to your retailers’ doors.

That said, your chances of making it on air are very slim due to tens of thousands of others applying. Additionally, your readiness to appear on air has to also be closely managed. Timing is sometimes everything – you want to make sure that you are fully ready to leverage such an opportunity and that means having a solid infrastructure and inventory readily available (i.e. you have the resources to produce that inventory).

So, are you ready to apply? Consider the following when answering that question. Do you have the time to apply? If you are already strapped for time, the answer may already be no and you can stop reading this blog post. The process is time consuming. If you apply and are invited to go to the next round(s), they include submitting a video, a ton of paperwork, researching the Sharks (you want to know who you are pitching to), familiarizing yourself with your financials so that you know them inside and out, practicing your pitch, a lot of communication with your assigned producers, travel, etc. If you film (and there are no guarantees that you will film even after going through the above steps), there is the time between filming and airing (and there are no guarantees that you will make it on air). Between the time of filming and airing, you will need to prepare for many steps (keep reading) – and you will have to make a leap of faith that you will air because there is not enough time to wait until you “know” that you will air. You will likely be given 2-3 weeks’ notice that you will appear on air. With this short lead time, consider the following short list readiness factors:

  • Is your web site prepared for the traffic (highly likely not) so you will need to get this all dialed in.
  • Do you have the inventory on hand to sell directly from your web site and/or ready to ship to your retailers should they request some in advance and/or wait to post airing and then suddenly want your product shipped pronto? This means investing in the inventory. Do you have the cash to do so? No one wants to wait for product. Not consumers and not retailers. Don’t put yourself in the situation of being in “reactive” mode and aggravate everyone in the process.
  • There are a lot of emails, social media posts, and phone calls that will follow in the days and weeks post airing. Do you have the support staff to handle these communications and stay on top of your day to day operations?

Ask yourself: Do you have the bandwidth to leverage and fully maximize these opportunities?  Opportunities include inquiries from press, retailers, distributors, investors, etc. It’s super exciting! But, would you be better served applying to the show next season? That’s for you to answer.

Building a brand is an ongoing effort though. So, whether you have a great platform like Shark Tank to spread the word, most companies won’t have this unique opportunity. So, like everything, stay the course and build your brand over time. Create a story and build upon it. Your retailers want to know that you are a partner for the long term. Show them visually how you are generating awareness for your brand over time. Example: http://psibands.com/press.html

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