Alright, before you start rolling your eyes and shutting down because you hate reality television, let me explain what sparked this post.

I admit I am an avid reality television watcher. It is a curse that I can’t cure. As I was watching the Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion, I was instantly startled by Vicki Gunvalson, one of the original housewives from the first season, who proclaimed she started the Real Housewives franchise. I immediately thought of those social media influencers and spokespeople who assist in marketing efforts. Are they free to take credit for a brand’s successes? Low and behold more marketing lessons began to emerge as I reflected on my reality binge watching experiences.

1. Be Careful About Who Represents Your Brand

Recently, it has become important to have a face representing your brand: this representative makes it possible for audiences to relate and feel connected to your company and products. Marketers are now outreaching to social media influencers and CEOs are contributing content as a representative of the company on third party sites. When it comes to reality shows, the more drama and outlandish acts – the better. However, for a brand and company, drama and outlandish acts do not hold the same value. An article from Forbes states, “all of the positive brand equity a company creates with the help of a spokesperson can evaporate in the space of a day.” Although it is useful for a CEO to create thought leadership opportunities, the usefulness of a spokesperson may be debatable. You have to ask yourself if the risk is worth it to have a potential reputation disaster if their image goes south.

2. There’s Safety in Numbers, So Find Your Cheerleaders

To all my fellow binge watchers, you know this to be true. There is safety in numbers on reality TV. You want to have people who will have your back when someone throws a drink at you at a dinner party, or in a marketing sense, when you want more positive reviews. Find those brand ambassadors who will spread positive word about your brand and assist in good old fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. Utilizing product reviews and increasing online reviews will build up your online support system. Quick hint: Start with your employees to be your brand cheerleaders.

3. Stir Up Discussions

If I had to guess, I would say about 90% of reality TV episodes are conversation. There always seems to be some pot stirring going on. In the marketing world, controversy or not, there are benefits to stirring up conversation about your brand. Ideally, though, when you stir up conversation you should shape a positive discussion. An easy way to do this is to create the messaging for your audience.  Focus your social media efforts and advertising messaging. Decide on what story you want to tell. For example, when Dove realized the alarming number of body issues facing women, they decided to start a conversation with their messaging by showcasing women of all shapes and sizes.  They focused on their target demographic and engaged in the typical conversations that audience was already interested in talking about.

4. Join Forces with Other Brands

In the reality TV world, you’ll often see reality stars on other shows as well. Shockingly, a commercial for the reality star’s original show will appear during their new venture. The cross-promotion is endless. In terms of marketing, find another brand that has a similar audience with a similar interest, but isn’t necessarily a competitor. You will reach double the audience and double your efforts.

5. Add Something New to the Mix but Stick to Your Roots

With television shows increasing at a rapid rate, reality television still needs to add new twists to keep their viewers engaged each season. However, it is important to the audience to still stick to the original reason they became viewers in the first place. For example, Bachelor fans were not too thrilled when the recent season of The Bachelorette brought in two contenders to be the next bachelorette. It strayed too far from the usual expectations of the show and offended more conservative fans. Your marketing efforts should continue to evolve and add new insight in the mix but stay true the initial reason people were drawn to your brand. Skyword sums it up best, “Taking some calculated risks that don’t pan out probably won’t ruin your marketing career, but never adding anything new to the conversation just might.”

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