Holding anyone’s attention–let alone a highly influential investor–is not for the faint of heart.
Whether it’s an investor or an influencer, there will come a time when you have only five minutes to make the most important pitch of your life. How you are perceived in those five minutes will make or break your career.
Watching other people experience those five minutes is exhilarating.
That brings me to one of the best shows on television Shark Tank. In this series five investors are tasked with weeding out the most promising pitches and using their wealth to back them. The sharks glean insights into how to better position products and services–most importantly how to make busy people care.
Today I pose the question “what qualities can brands exhibit to make influencers care?” Below I look at each shark’s style and the qualities that appeal to them.
While fellow shark Mr. Wonderful often calls Barbara “grandma” don’t be fooled, there will be no milk and cookies served. Recently at the Fancy Food Show I met two entrepreneurs who secured 50K from Corcoran for 50% of their company–only after she told one of them he looked like the pig featured on the label of his bbq sauce. He could take a joke and he’s grateful he could because there was more to Barbara than the bellicose style. If you have thick skin and have a clever new idea, she might just fall for you too, ugly or not. Note she doesn’t like to invest in things she wouldn’t use herself and she doesn’t like products that come with baggage. If you’ve got charisma she’s more likely to work with you. The scene is 5 mins 48 seconds in to the clip below.
You might not know that “Cuban” is a surname shortened from “Chabenisky”–Cuban’s grandparents were Russian Jews who got a name change at Ellis Island. Cuban is the darling of the show. He’s the wealthiest of the investors and the most famous. He rarely speaks first and he’s a straight shooter who is quick to calculate a situation. He often politely backs out of deals by acknowledging the product is out of his focus area. He’s also quick to call b.s on products he feel lack integrity (remember the power band–the “negative ions” products Cuban accused of being a scam?). Did I tell you he owns the Dallas Mavericks? He’s not shy, and Cuban has been fined for at least $1,665,000 for 13 incidents called out by the NBA for being critical about…the NBA. Mark appreciates humility, ingenuity and spirit in entrepreneurs. Exhibit these qualities and he might just choose you.
Maybe it’s the Canadian in Herjavec that makes him seem like the boy next door, or maybe it’s his big blue eyes. Either way he’s usually the one who empathizes with the underdogs. He will step in and try to explain things to the contestants in layman’s terms. From what I can tell he’s the most sensitive of the male sharks and would do very well in a room full of women. If you reach him on an emotional level it is likely he will love you and your product. He was eight years old when his family immigrated to Canada from Croatia hence his appreciation for a strong work ethic. He also appears to have an affinity for conscious capitalism.
Greiner is known on the show as Mrs. QVC. She has hundreds of patents and a sharp eye for what will sell to the QVC audience. Greiner has an ability to retain her femininity without being swallowed up by the shark tank. She makes no apologies, stands her ground and knows how to deal with any negative criticism about QVC. On her Facebook Page she posts inspirational status updates and is the only shark who engages directly with her fans. She invests in products and even more importantly, people. While Greiner has a big heart, it’s a heart of gold–and that’s what she’s after. Keep in mind if she makes you an offer and you put it over ice for too long, she might just rescind it. She values creativity, relevance and loyalty.
Kevin O’Leary (AKA Mr. Wonderful)
Mr Wonderful is possibly the most shark-like-shark out of the group. He can be outright mean but will surprise you. Who knew he decided to be an entrepreneur as a teenager when he was bullied by his boss at the local ice cream shop? O’Leary-the second wealthiest shark on the show-is not cuddly, but if he believes in your product (and thinks you can take the heat) you might get lucky. Looking at O’Leary’s record he prefers royalties to equity. If you don’t need a warm fuzzy relationship with this investor he might just help you realize your dream. If he let’s you in perhaps he’ll play you a song on his guitar.
John is a sought after shark due to his marketing genius and world re-known brand Fubu. If the product is retail or appeals to the industry you might get his interest. John personally values work ethic since he started his business with not much money and a wife and one year old at home. He likes products with a strong sales track record out the gate and entrepreneurs who don’t fumble on their numbers. He’ll question your valuation, and isn’t above rolling his eyes. If he rejects you he’ll at least have the decency to do it in a cute and sassy way.
Getting influencers to care about products and services can be more difficult than securing an investment. What can you possibly give an influencer to make them interested?
I’ll answer that question in another post. For now you have some tips around values, personality and style to think about.