7 Things Shark Tank Can Teach You About Video

I love hearing about, thinking about, and working on new business ideas. It’s part of the reason I enjoy my job so much. Having made some 400 videos for companies of all shapes and sizes, and having had the opportunity to talk with hundreds more, I never tire of learning about the creative, clever business concepts people are cooking up. All of which fuels my love for Shark Tank. On Shark Tank, entrepreneurs pitch their companies for a chance at raising money from “the sharks”, wealthy individual investors with a keen eye for the next big thing.

What I didn’t realize until recently is just how much overlap there is between a successful Shark Tank pitch and a successful explainer video. Everything about a solid pitch, right down to the order in which the information is presented, gives us plenty to learn from. So without further ado, here are 7 things Shark Tank can teach you about making an explainer video for your business.

1. Grab attention immediately

With so much content floating around out there competing for attention, it’s absolutely vital to grab your audience’s attention right off the bat. To me, few have exemplified this better than Chicago local Steve Gadlin and his company I Want to Draw a Cat For You. Steve was able to draw the sharks in with a fun albeit silly song and dance.


This doesn’t mean you have to use humor to grab attention, although when done well it’s hard to beat. You may want to throw out a compelling stat, tell a personal story, or some good ol’ shock and awe. If your intro is boring, good luck getting anyone to stick around for the rest of the video. And when it comes to the Shark Tank, if you bomb the pitch, you’re likely gone before Steve can draw a cat.

2. Make them feel the pain

Relating a problem in the status quo to an audience of four multi-millionaires isn’t always easy because, let’s face it, their lives are a lot different than ours. But if you break down the pain enough that it can be understood by them, they will start to see through the same lens as your target customer.

Steve’s company doesn’t exactly fill a need. At least I can’t imagine there were too many people out there before Steve came along who had been scouring the Internet trying to find a cat drawing business. But I could be wrong. He has drawn nearly 19,000 of these things at 10 bucks a pop. But I digress.

3. Introduce them to a better way

Assuming you’ve been able to clearly convey the pain point(s) your company is addressing, your solution should come as breath of fresh air. It should be lightbulb moment when your audience immediately understands what you’re doing and why. Nate Holzapfel and his company Mission Belt did exactly that on Shark Tank a few years back.

Mission Belt takes a unique approach to a seemingly simple product that hasn’t changed in decades – the belt. By removing the holes and introducing a ratchet system instead, Nate’s belts provide a precise fit that don’t leave you pulling up your pants or gasping for air. It’s a clear value proposition that just makes sense and makes you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

In any video you produce, you should try to have a clear, single line value proposition that makes it instantly obvious what you do and why it matters. Here’s a great article from Help Scout on how to craft a magnetic value prop. In it they include some examples, like the headline at Unbounce, “Build, publish, and A/B test landing pages without I.T”. Easier said than done, but spending the time to develop clear language that anyone can understand, regardless of context, is a must.

4. Creatively show and tell them how it works

Take Oru Kayak for example, they sneakily unveiled the compact kayak after they already had the full fledged one on display. They then walked the sharks through the process of unfolding it and hit on benefits during that process.

Not only did they come across articulate but also very organized. They practiced their pitch and timed it perfectly to the length of time it would take to assemble their product. It made them seem like they had their stuff together and built a level of trust between themselves and the sharks (viewers too).

5. Always be positive

It’s not always the easiest thing to do when the Sharks start poking holes in your product or numbers. It seems like Spikeball wasn’t going to get a deal at first with some of the negativity coming from the Sharks. Chris stays positive despite some early rejections, politely negotiates, and lands himself a great deal.

Staying positive probably feels like a no brainer for your video, but sometimes companies go astray from this during their problem section. The focus too much on their competitors and take some unnecessary shots at them. We find it best to keep the focus on your great company and all the benefits you offer rather than drag other people’s names through the mud.

6. Know your numbers

If not the sharks will eat you up, and don’t be like Amber.

If your company has statistics to back up the value in what you’re offering it can be a good idea to add those into the video, either through visuals or the narration.

7. Give them the next step

If there is one constant among all the pitches it’s that the pitch will wrap up with a pun-laden call-to-action question for the Sharks to invest in the business. It’s most likely prompted by the show’s producers, but it’s still a nice prompt to let the Sharks know it’s time to ask questions and works towards closing the sale.

Whether it’s asking “Who is ready to make a splash?”or “Which one of you wants to Bee Sweet with me?” every pitch ends with a question that doubles as a call to action. You don’t need to ask a question at the end of your video but make the next step as clear as possible for your viewers.

Summary

No matter what your product or service is, make sure to take the time needed to perfect your video because hard work goes a long way – even if that’s just moving your shoulders awkwardly while singing a weird song.

Have you been inspired by any particular Shark Tank pitches for your company? Let us know in the comments!

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