How Reality TV Can Help You Better Promote Your Brand

Apr 15, 2014 - Joe Matar

It’s OK to admit it. You’re not the only one. We’ve all fallen victim at some time or another to the mind-numbing hold that reality TV can place on us.

“Did she really just say that?” “What on earth is he doing?” “Are you kidding me!? They’re about to eat that!”

Millions of viewers around the globe have uttered these phrases from their couches, sucked into the vortex that is reality TV. Luckily, the hours you spent watching greased up guidos from Jersey were not in vain. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Believe it or not, there are valuable lessons to learn from these shows, and not just about how not to live your life, but also how to successfully market your business.

1. Develop your brand like the Jersey Shore

The amount of time people have spent watching eight Italian-Americans run rampant with fist pumps in the streets and nightclubs across the world is almost sickening.

Yet despite their drunken shenanigans, several members of the Jersey Shore cast were able to become icons who are still relevant years later. You may laugh at the mention of Snooki, The Situation and JWoww, but these characters have now become major brands. And it all started with their stint on reality TV.

Use the same mentalities as the Jersey Shore cast with your company. No, I’m not saying take your employees to Miami for Ultra Festival (although I’m up for it if you’re reading this, boss). What I am saying is to market what you’re good at. Don’t be afraid to be different, and don’t hide who you are.

What benefit does your company provide? Tailor your branding to support your benefit and not your product. Your target audience is likely to be more concerned with what you can do for them and less about how you do it. Once you’ve segmented your brand, you’ll be able to focus your strategies with that market in mind.

2. Keep 'em engaged like The Bachelor

Sensationalism is an excellent tool that reality TV producers have used for years to keep viewers tuning in. For instance, The Bachelor has kept fans tuning in for 18 seasons and counting.

There are a lot of reasons why, but there’s no doubt the producers have an ability to hook viewers from week to week. After every episode, they tease the upcoming week’s episode with “next week on the most dramatic episode ever…” Well heck, you have to tune in to see the most dramatic episode ever!

Take this principle and apply it to your marketing efforts. Once you’ve actually gotten someone to visit your business or website, the next step is to keep them coming back.

There are marketing tools and software on the Web that can help you retarget users who visit their pages. You can track where the user came in from and see what they did while they were on your site. This information can help you formulate more targeted follow-ups.

Moreover, consider using conversion content to gather subscribers to your email lists. If you’re a brick and mortar business, try to gain as much information about your customer or lead without being intrusive.

Once you have their emails, social profiles or home addresses, be sure to remain top of mind. Send relevant and timely direct mailers highlighting upcoming events they can attend. Use your email lists to send newsletters updating users about relevant-to-them info. Finally, maximize your brand’s personality by communicating with people on social pages like Twitter or Facebook.

3. Keep a Big Brother eye on your competition

Some of the most entertaining reality shows are competition-based. Real World Road Rules Challenge, Big Brother, Survivor and countless others feature challenging events that test the physical and mental strength of the competitors. You quickly learn the most dramatic competitors earn most of the attention and screen time, but the ones who fly under the radar often end up winning.

One of the most important aspects of marketing your business is monitoring your competition. It’s vital that you know who you’re going up against and make strategic adjustments to outmaneuver them.

Much like on reality TV shows, you can quickly identify the obvious competitors. Your specific vertical will have direct and indirect competition. You should look at your competition from all vantage points. Many marketers overlook the indirect substitutes, but don’t follow suit with this oversight. By keeping an eye on indirect substitutes, you can monitor their moves and reach into that market when you see fit.

We’ve come a long way in television over the years. No more are the days when the MTV only played music videos or the Sports Network only played sports. Now everyone seems to be jumping on the reality TV bandwagon because… well, it works.

Luckily, there are lessons from these shows that can be applied to the business world. Consider these three reality TV lessons on marketing for your business and you will be rolling in the dough (drama) in no time.

Derek Miller has an entrepreneurial spirit, scattered mind and marketing background. He’s a novice comic who spins humor into fantasy sports columns on Fantasy Help. You can follow him on Twitter @DereksAlterEgo.