Written by Dr Polly McGee
Competitive reality TV has had to evolve and change to keep viewers engaged. Along the way it has given us many principles to live by, as well as numerous sayings and taglines. For that, and many hours of entertainment, I’m sure we are all thankful. Two formats that always resonate with me when thinking about the parallels of small business are The Voice Australia and Recipe to Riches.
In the early stages of the competitions, the judges have to make a call on which contestants would go through and which would be abandoned back into anonymity. Consumers have the same experience when interacting with your brand.
On The Voice, success is determined by how well the contestant ‘authentically’ spoke to the audience. Recipe to Riches not only looks at the capacity for a brand to resonate in the market place, but asks the other critical question – can you scale? Brand values can work well in a micro setting, but can the product and your delivery of it move from a hands-on controlled environment, and be replicated for a larger market?
There is a powerful business truth in these interrogations. We don’t succeed because we are the best, although we must have a measure of competence [insert market demand or engagement] to be part of the selection process. When our brands are competing in a big, noisy, crowded market, there has to be an outstanding quality that makes people choose us and our products over our competitors.
Most initial interactions consumers have with our products and brands is online, via a website, blogs, social media or a combination of all three. So ask yourself, how do you and your product represent? Do you speak authentically to your audience, walk the stage and perform in a natural, believable way especially when the performance is being mediated by technology? Can you scale to speak to hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and still have a voice in the market?
Even search engine optimisation (SEO) is getting its lines from reality TV. Google and Bing love ‘truth and authenticity’ in content and ‘scale’ in interactions. You are ‘incentivized’ by higher search engine ranking when your content is fresh, authentic and endorsed by a quantum of reputable backlinks to your site. The mysterious, ever-changing Google algorithm is now attuned to site content being ‘real’, as in by a ‘real person,’ and to the most intangible of machine measurements, ‘passion.’
If there was ever a deus ex machina to convey us to business success through being found online, it would surely be replacing endless key words with clear market communication that represents the real. All very fluffy and non-evidence based, I know. But this is the point. We don’t make purchase decisions based on evidence, perfection or competence. We make them largely on emotional behaviour, triggered by a connection on some real, human, emotional level.
SEO is based on popularity, as is social media and competitive reality TV. Look at your content, digital collateral and social media interactions and make sure that it speaks to your audience and customer in a way that stirs emotion, builds trust and ultimately keeps you centre stage.
Dr Polly McGee has worked as a digital strategist and business consultant, freelance writer in entrepreneurship and commercialisation and has been published in Start-up Smart. She is regularly featured as an expert on Startups and women in entrepreneurship. Polly is the current Chair of Tasmanian literary magazine Island, occasional media commentator, wannabe novelist and sporadic food blogger.