Long before the writer's strike, they were already here to stay. Having a teenager in the house means I get to watch more than my fair share of them. Like the proverbial train wreck, they're sort of hard to turn away from. They are both grotesque and fascinating.
I realized tonight that there are some lessons for us in the reality show recipe. After all, wouldn't we like our marketing efforts to be mesmerizing?
High Emotion/Drama: There's not a dull moment on these shows. They have a wonderful sense of story-telling build up. You can feel the tension mounting and before you know it — someone is taking a swing at someone else or we've got a full on sob fest.
How about your marketing materials? Are you telling a story that builds up to a satisfying emotional reaction? Are you drawing your audience in?
Messy: There's nothing pretty or perfect on a reality show. But then again, life isn't perfect. It's messy. Especially when you are doing things "live" or on the fly.
I think one of the reasons many companies shy away from social media tactics is because they can't package them up and put a bow on them. It's okay to just get out there and wing it a little. Maybe it will look a little messy from time to time — but it will also look authentic.
Conflict: Most reality shows are some sort of contest. It pits people against each other and within that, secret alliances, grudge matches and villains. We need someone to root for. And against.
We know that all buying decisions are based on emotions. Do you know what emotions trigger a prospect to become a buyer for your product/service? Are you setting up conflicts to evoke those emotions?
Surprise: There are more twists and turns than the roller coasters at Cedar Point. They're always bringing back old contestants or revealing secrets, just to keep everyone on their toes. Adding an element of surprise enhances the three earlier elements — high emotions, messiness and conflict. Surprise also offers relief from those elements. So just about the time you can't handle any more drama, they'll take a twist and offer a sentimental moment.
Are you remembering to surprise your customers? That's a very powerful way to generate word of mouth and stickiness.
So next time you are feeling a little guilty about watching Dancing with the Stars or I Love New York 2 — have no fear. You're just enhancing your marketing knowledge!