How Watching Shark Tank Makes You a Better Copywriter

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If you want to improve your copywriting skills watch the shark tank each week. Notice how the product pitchers use the most potent words in the least amount of time. Plus notice how they weave an engaging story into their pitch.

I've noticed that even if the product or service is weak an engaging story will always get at least one of the sharks to bite.

I'm sure they must have help with their pitches from seasoned professionals, at first I thought they wrote their own pitches. But as I learn more about copywriting I notice "The disciplined formula" is always followed.

#makes #shark #tank #watching
  • Profile picture of the author JohnRussell
    You can also learn some amazing lessons in positioning by watching the Sharks.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by JohnRussell View Post

      You can also learn some amazing lessons in positioning by watching the Sharks.
      You're right, I think they should give college credit for watching it. If you pay attention you can learn multiple skills in action from each episode. In fact, it's so may things going on I'm sure most people miss 70%. That's why I find myself watching each episode multiple times. I'm always surprised how much I miss when I watch it again.
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        I actually learn the most from seeing how the contestants respond to questions from the Sharks. Too many of them act like they're thrown by concerns that they should have been able to anticipate if they had previously watched the show several times.

        It's also interesting to see what types of products are selected to appear on the show. 90% of the time it's something that can easily be demo'd right in front of the Sharks' eyes (or noses or taste buds...).

        Marcia Yudkin
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        • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
          Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

          I actually learn the most from seeing how the contestants respond to questions from the Sharks. Too many of them act like they're thrown by concerns that they should have been able to anticipate if they had previously watched the show several times.

          It's also interesting to see what types of products are selected to appear on the show. 90% of the time it's something that can easily be demo'd right in front of the Sharks' eyes (or noses or taste buds...).

          Marcia Yudkin
          Exactly. It seems like some of them have never seen the show. Plus, they never seem to know basics like Lifetime Customer Value, which they could learn in 10 minutes from a Google search. That said, the Sharks also sometimes confuse their personal beliefs or preferences with a market's behavior. You are not your market.
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          What I get out of it is how intelligent wealthy people look at deals. What do they look for? What makes them instantly peg you as a waste of time?

          Do you want to see how wealthy business people think? Watch the show.

          I like the mix of each show. Maybe 2 people pitching moronic ideas, or ideas where they have done no research. Maybe one average deal, where one Shark offers them some money...and one home run deal. Where the Sharks fight over the deal.

          To the OP. Brilliant title for a thread, Man. Made me look.
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  • Profile picture of the author elmo033057
    I noticed on the show that the entrepreneurs that almost always get the Shark People to bankroll them are the one's that have a proven market place. If you walk in there with at least $500,000+ in sales and about $100,000 in profits you are a shoe-in, fer shure!

    ELMO
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Funny thing is, when a shark's hot button gets pressed, and he or she wants the deal badly, they're no different than anybody else...

      ... their passion drives them.

      Alex
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      • Profile picture of the author thebert
        Yeah Alex! You got it. Passion rules.
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      • Profile picture of the author Chriswrighto
        Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        Funny thing is, when a shark's hot button has been pressed, and he or she wants in the deal badly, they're no different than anybody else...

        ... their passion drives them.

        Alex
        No doubt.

        I want to tell everyone about a lesson from an episode last night.

        Over here in the UK, the show is called "Dragon's Den".

        A chap came in, confident and charismatic, selling "Graffiti Prints". You could design and order a Graffiti Print to stick on your wall. A good product, targeting 7-13 year olds... but 4 dragon's quickly switched off.

        Who was left?

        Peter Jones.

        Known for some quirky and unusual investments in the past, he stated his interest. The passion was there.

        After praising the graffiti man for a while he declared himself out, because of one simple thing:

        The logic didn't support the emotional appeal.

        The chap had not sat down with an app developer to get the figures, he barely knew his figures and his main focus of the pitch was on "giving back to the community" not making a return".

        "You have to sell to two people, the man and his wife."

        He sold to the man, but the wife (logic) was not supportive and shut the deal down.

        Emotion backed by logic is a deadly power. One that'll make you money.

        Yeaaaaaah.

        Chris
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  • Profile picture of the author Samuel Adams
    Although his sales presentation or pitch was just perfect, this guy fell down when he was prodded with questions on product placement in big retail stores. I think he needs to get his act together and polish up that 'interview' portion so he doesn't act so flustered over lack of success with getting his product placed. As mentioned before, lots to be learned from a show like this, not just for copywriting but for any type of sales, especially live presentations which depend on over coming customer objections face to face.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by Samuel Adams View Post

      Although his sales presentation or pitch was just perfect, this guy fell down when he was prodded with questions on product placement in big retail stores. I think he needs to get his act together and polish up that 'interview' portion so he doesn't act so flustered over lack of success with getting his product placed. As mentioned before, lots to be learned from a show like this, not just for copywriting but for any type of sales, especially live presentations which depend on over coming customer objections face to face.
      Good point. I'm always baffled by the ones who always wait for one of the Sharks to ask them about sales figures, instead of making that a part of their presentation. Especially the ones who have impressive sales.

      It always makes me laugh when they appear bored until they ask about sales figures and the product owner gives them an impressive number - and everyone (including Mr. Wonderful) sits up in their seat.

      It makes me think, why didn't they say that it the first place? Instead of waiting to be asked. Past sales figures seems to be one of the open sesames to their investment dollars --No matter what their selling, whether it's a new technology or mud.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jeffery Moss
        Originally Posted by The Niche Man View Post

        Good point. I'm always baffled by the ones who always wait for one of the Sharks to ask them about sales figures, instead of making that a part of their presentation. Especially the ones who have impressive sales.

        It always makes me laugh when they appear bored until they ask about sales figures and the product owner gives them an impressive number - and everyone (including Mr. Wonderful) sits up in their seat.

        It makes me think, why didn't they say that it the first place? Instead of waiting to be asked. Past sales figures seems to be one of the open sesames to their investment dollars --No matter what their selling, whether it's a new technology or mud.

        Maybe a lesson to take away from this is to tailor your sales presentation to the end goals of the person you are presenting to.

        These investors have a 'Hey prove it to me! Tell me why your opportunity is worth investing into.' And, many of the people presenting don't actually give investors any reasons, whether sales figures or product placement to think the idea will turn a profit. Instead, they're focusing solely on the product, which might be good if this were an online site or in home presentation, where you are marketing directly to the customer. But, this is a sales pitch to investors who want to know, 'How much money will I earn if I give you money now and what are you doing now to earn that money for me?' Answering these questions would likely get the result wanted, money in pocket for the entrepreneur who is looking for funding.
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  • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
    It's also a good example of a company that can benefit from a Mr. or Mrs. Inside and a Mr. or Mrs. Outside.

    This guy sounds like a classic Mr. Outside, who has charisma and can effectively lead the PR and promotional effort.

    But every company needs an Inside person who is good with detail and execution.

    These traits are rarely found in high degrees in the same person.
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  • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
    Originally Posted by The Niche Man View Post

    I'm sure they must have help with their pitches from seasoned professionals, at first I thought they wrote their own pitches. But as I learn more about copywriting I notice "The disciplined formula" is always followed.

    Shark Tank : MONEY : Make It Rain Money! - YouTube
    I disagree with this point. They get a basic structure to follow, but many of the pitches are so bad I doubt they are getting much help. There doesn't seem to be a lot of discipline involved.

    In fact, a guy who does a podcast recap of Shark Tank says too many pitches are made as if they are talking to their friends and family.

    Here are some of the recommendations he makes to succeed on the show:
    -- Know your numbers like the back of your hand.
    -- Don't pitch like you are selling your mother. You are making a business pitch.
    -- Show me. Create a demo!
    -- Know your prospect. Tailor the pitch to the individuals on the panel.

    Perfect 'Shark Tank' Pitch - Business Insider
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    • Profile picture of the author ronr
      Although I'm a fan of Shark Tank and especially like some of the ideas and success stories whether or not they get a deal, remember what you see on Shark Tank show isn't necessarly what really happened.

      You are only seeing a few minutes of their pitch. They are actually 45 min to 1 hr. long. What you see on TV is the edited version for TV. So what may seem like a good/bad pitch depends on what the director chooses to show in the edited version that you see.

      Even when a deal is made, each side has months to do due diligence can back out at anytime.

      Ron
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      • Profile picture of the author Jeffery Moss
        Originally Posted by ronr View Post

        Although I'm a fan of Shark Tank and especially like some of the ideas and success stories whether or not they get a deal, remember what you see on Shark Tank show isn't necessarly what really happened.

        You are only seeing a few minutes of their pitch. They are actually 45 min to 1 hr. long. What you see on TV is the edited version for TV. So what may seem like a good/bad pitch depends on what the director chooses to show in the edited version that you see.

        Even when a deal is made, each side has months to do due diligence can back out at anytime.

        Ron
        This is a valid point. There's no way a really smart investor would devote so much money to anyone based on a TV related pitch. As you say, these guys are doing their homework (due diligence) on the people involved. And, though they might be acting surprised or amazed over the presentations, let's just remember how this is a television show, so much of the reactions are likely scripted anyway. When it comes to actually writing out that check for the person wanting money for their business, you can bet these sharks have done all the investigations needed to ensure success and they're not just taking the words of the person during the presentation.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by joe golfer View Post

      I disagree with this point. They get a basic structure to follow, but many of the pitches are so bad I doubt they are getting much help. There doesn't seem to be a lot of discipline involved.

      In fact, a guy who does a podcast recap of Shark Tank says too many pitches are made as if they are talking to their friends and family.

      Here are some of the recommendations he makes to succeed on the show:
      -- Know your numbers like the back of your hand.
      -- Don't pitch like you are selling your mother. You are making a business pitch.
      -- Show me. Create a demo!
      -- Know your prospect. Tailor the pitch to the individuals on the panel.

      Perfect 'Shark Tank' Pitch - Business Insider
      One thing the gentleman's list didn't have. And the one thing I noticed most of the pitches contain that lands the deal is, drumroll please....
      Tell a compelling story.

      I've even seen episodes where the product was routine, the sales figures marginal and the presentation amaturish. But a deal was still made because of the compelling story.

      In fact, notice the number of compelling stories this contestant weaves in his presentation (on the fly) to seal the deal, despite the barrage of objections the Sharks fling at him.
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      • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
        Originally Posted by The Niche Man View Post

        One thing the gentleman's list didn't have. And the one thing I noticed most of the pitches contain that lands the deal is, drumroll please....
        Tell a compelling story.
        Good point. I notice Barbara Corcoran in particular asks about their background in many shows. Why does she need to ask? It should be built in to the pitch.
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        • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
          Originally Posted by joe golfer View Post

          Good point. I notice Barbara Corcoran in particular asks about their background in many shows. Why does she need to ask? It should be built in to the pitch.
          Yes, it's a very risky move not to include your background. Most prospects won't ask, and just assume you either don't have one or it's shaky.
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  • Profile picture of the author crosshairs
    Really love Shark Tank too. There are a lot of lessons to be learned there.

    I bet less people hate Mark Cuban because of it too lol
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by crosshairs View Post

      Really love Shark Tank too. There are a lot of lessons to be learned there.

      I bet less people hate Mark Cuban because of it too lol
      I agree. Mark Cuban seems a bit more humane and less "insane" in the Shark Tank than he is in the basketball arena.
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  • Profile picture of the author Max Anderson
    I love the show... However, I don´t think it will help with developing better copywriting skills.
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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    What stuns me about Shark Tank is how terrible these gazillionaires can be when it comes to persuading the contestants to accept their offers. Many times speaking like newbie sales people.

    No particular examples in mind but I know I've seen it countless times. Instead of reeling in the contestant and getting them to decide in their favor, they'll threaten, saying things like "you really need me if you want to make money" or put down the competition "Lori doesn't know what she's talking about", they plead, "Come to Mr. Wonderful!"

    Their sales abilities are limited to throwing their weight around.

    If you reply to this post, I get a royalty for every response in perpetuity. C'mon, what are you waiting for? Come to MisterMe! The others are just going to take your equity and leave you with nothing, my friend.
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    • Profile picture of the author JDWater
      misterme I think that's intentional to fit the "evil investor" archetype, it is called "Shark tank".

      Just a thought.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by misterme View Post

      What stuns me about Shark Tank is how terrible these gazillionaires can be when it comes to persuading the contestants to accept their offers. Many times speaking like newbie sales people.

      No particular examples in mind but I know I've seen it countless times. Instead of reeling in the contestant and getting them to decide in their favor, they'll threaten, saying things like "you really need me if you want to make money" or put down the competition "Lori doesn't know what she's talking about", they plead, "Come to Mr. Wonderful!"

      Their sales abilities are limited to throwing their weight around.

      If you reply to this post, I get a royalty for every response in perpetuity. C'mon, what are you waiting for? Come to MisterMe! The others are just going to take your equity and leave you with nothing, my friend.
      Good point.
      Here's a quick example I just saw.

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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Evil investor archetype is one thing. Smart business is another. Sometimes they overlap. Often, they do not.
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  • Profile picture of the author RedShifted
    My brothers good friend John was on their latest episode. His name is John Depaola the guy who pitched the paint brush cover.

    Whats funny is 3 years ago John was annoying us about this stupid piece of plastic he made to cover paint brushes. At the time, me and my brother would make fun of him behind his back. Although we saw potential in the idea, we thought it was too "stupid simple" to get any attention. And the guy was so passionate about this stupid piece of plastic we thought he was losing his mind.

    But damn were we wrong.

    First they got the product on the shelves of home depot (John, his brother Sal and their friend Anthony Caputo), and I nearly crapped my pants. Then they struck a deal with Lori and I almost lost my mind. I was so bitter and jealous I wanted to put my head through a wall.

    It hasn't been uploaded to ABC's website yet but you can catch their pitch here: (starts at 29 mins) http://billionuploads.com/huyh8gkwh43g

    It starts off as a complete disaster but within 20 minutes they manage to double their evaluation. I'm still in a state of shock since I saw the show. John had filmed this last September and managed to keep the deal a secret till a few days ago. Thats 7 months that he couldn't tell anyone. Because Shark Tank prohibits you from talking about anything until the show airs.

    I've been watching every episode of Shark Tank since the first season airred. A lot of episodes I've seen more than twice. And I agree, you can learn a lot just by watching the show. Not just about copywriting but sales, marketing and business in general.

    The only thing I don't like... they have to dumb down the show so much for your average tv viewer. John told us they took out like 80% of his pitch & evaluation. So all those technical & creative things that people on WF would love to see... they take most that stuff out. I'm sure it helps for ratings. But it makes the Sharks seem a lot dumber than they really are. Along with the people pitching their products.

    I remember back in like Season 2 or 3, when those fresh lobster guys pitched their mobile lobster truck. Then Barbara gave them some great advice on how they could change their design & copy. And that was one of my favorite episodes. Even though the business concept was far from perfect, I loved the fact that the Sharks were freely giving out all these great ideas.

    These days I see much less of that type of creative collaboration. Its all about numbers and jokes. But they have gotten better at screening out bad business ideas. So I can't really complain.

    -RS
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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    What I mean is more like this. I just happened to grab one episode of out the search results and fast forwarded through it to get to a point where the moment of decision comes.

    And here's what I see:

    From 9:41 to 10:26:

    Herjavec makes an offer and then attempts to close the entrepreneur by saying:

    "What do you say?"

    Huh???? That's something a newbie salesperson says.

    But let's continue...

    The entrepreneur rejects his deal. How does Herjavec maneuver from that point to bring the guy around? What does he say to the guy to persuade him?

    He takes it personally and loses his cool. Then he rejects the guy, even though the guy already rejected him first.

    Huh???

    By 10:26 O'Leary's not getting the deal he wants either as it seems to be going to Mark Cuban. Out of frustration or impatience he tells the entrepreneur what he wishes the entrepreneur would do. He says to the guy:

    "Why don't you counter me with less of a royalty?"

    That's like a sales person not getting a sale and saying to the prospect, "Why don't you offer me less? Then maybe I'll take your offer."

    Just terrible.

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    • Profile picture of the author Chriswrighto
      Originally Posted by misterme View Post

      Just terrible.
      Yup, it's a terrible lesson in negotiation and sales.

      I take Dragon's Den/Shark Tank with a pinch of salt really.

      The main aim is to get viewership, not to actually show good business acumen.

      And non-sales minded people would just assume that the Shark's know their stuff.

      Check out this article with The Independent.

      To sum it up, a large majority of deals that the Dragon's here in the UK made were actually loans.

      It's a good show... but it's just that, a show.
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      • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
        Originally Posted by Chriswrighto View Post

        non-sales minded people would just assume that the Shark's know their stuff.

        .
        Not to defend them, they can defend themselves. But they are millionaire and billionaires. They may know a little something about sales, don't ya think? The only thing I can conclude is they're not perfect yet.
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        • Profile picture of the author Chriswrighto
          Originally Posted by The Niche Man View Post

          Not to defend them, they can defend themselves. But they are millionaire and billionaires. They may know a little something about sales, don't ya think? The only thing I can conclude is they're not perfect yet.
          Yeah, I didn't phrase that correctly.

          My point was that everything they say/do is for viewership first, business deals second.

          So when they act in a way which isn't optimal for the actual business situation, the average person would take it as being optimal.
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      • Profile picture of the author James Clouser
        Originally Posted by Chriswrighto View Post

        Yup, it's a terrible lesson in negotiation and sales.

        I take Dragon's Den/Shark Tank with a pinch of salt really.

        The main aim is to get viewership, not to actually show good business acumen.

        And non-sales minded people would just assume that the Shark's know their stuff.

        Check out this article with The Independent.

        To sum it up, a large majority of deals that the Dragon's here in the UK made were actually loans.

        It's a good show... but it's just that, a show.
        I agree. You can glean better market intel by watching people in their natural environment.
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  • Profile picture of the author Romina82
    Are there any similarities you notice between how these guys pitch their ideas/products to written mediums used for sales copy?
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by Romina82 View Post

      Are there any similarities you notice between how these guys pitch their ideas/products to written mediums used for sales copy?
      1. Introduce Problem With Engaging Story!
      2. What's Your Personal Background Story!
      3. Offer Product or Service Solution!
      4. Proof: Demonstration, Sales figures!
      5. Ask For The Order Trial Close!
      6. Overcome Residual Objections!
      7. Close!

      Note: Plus it points out some of the things not to do, as previous contributors to this post have pointed out.
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      • Profile picture of the author Romina82
        Originally Posted by The Niche Man View Post

        1. Introduce Problem With Engaging Story!
        2.What's Your Personal Background Story!
        3. Offer Product or Service Solution!
        4. Proof: Demonstration, Sales figures!
        5. Ask For The Order Trial Close!
        6. Overcome Residual Objections!
        7. Close!
        Thanks for the recap.

        So my understanding is similar to the sales pitching process
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  • Profile picture of the author jjosephs
    I always wonder how many of the contestants are blathering idiots...

    And how many were simply edited into blathering idiots

    Also... I imagine the creators get together in a little room and go "OK, this week, we need a:

    1X Heartwarming single mom "engine that could" that brings 2 judges to the verge of tears
    2X Delusional optimists that get about 20% of their target funding
    1X Cringe-worthy contestant Kevin can smack around like a pinata
    1X Contestant that smacks judges around like a pinata

    Voila, drama
    "
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    • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
      Whether it's staged or not, there's a lot to learn from that show IF you know what to listen for.

      If you've read Jack Trout's books on positioning, Shark Tank takes on a whole new context. You see the principles in books like "22 Immutable Laws of Marketing" at work.

      Frankly, I wish more new entrepreneurs would watch it.

      Too many of them think all they need is an idea and a whole lot of startup capital.

      It would get them out of that "How do I find funding for my small business" ...mindset and get them thinking..."How can I better serve my niche and find funding in the CUSTOMER'S pockets, instead of the bank's pockets.
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      • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
        Originally Posted by sethczerepak View Post

        Whether it's staged or not, there's a lot to learn from that show IF you know what to listen for.
        Interesting. What are some of the things you personally listen for?

        What gets my attention is the story, the sharks objections, ways the contestant overcomes them and what seals the deal (the close).
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        • Profile picture of the author Chriswrighto
          Originally Posted by The Niche Man View Post

          Interesting. What are some of the things you personally listen for?

          What gets my attention is the story, the sharks objections, ways the contestant overcomes them and what seals the deal (the close).
          I personally love the story element.

          Check this one out:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2w_a1wAo_M

          Story begins at 1:08.

          Just so powerful.
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        • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
          Originally Posted by The Niche Man View Post

          Interesting. What are some of the things you personally listen for?
          Whether their pitch is relevant.

          The ones that get good offers give stats about their company performance, how their brand is different and how it fills an unmet need in the market.

          Those who don't will quote irrelevant stats like:

          "Health and beauty is a ____ billion dollar industry..."

          ...as if that matters. If the product doesn't fill in a gap using a strong positioning strategy, it doesn't matter how much money people are spending in the niche.

          Second, it's interesting how some contestants "get" that the shark is buying THEM just as much as they're buying the business. Other's are completely oblivious to that and get rejected in spite of having a good biz idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author LudwigReithofer
    You should also watch "Bar Rescue" with Jon Taffer.

    And "the Pitch".
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by LudwigReithofer View Post

      You should also watch "Bar Rescue" with Jon Taffer.

      And "the Pitch".
      I've watched the Pitch, earlier in the year, but I haven't seen it lately. Is it still on.
      I haven't heard of Bar Rescue, I'll look it up. Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author ItsJasonWright
    I love Shark Tank, but haven't seen the Pitch.

    But one that I like even more than the shark tank is The Profit.

    The Profit

    Where Shark Tank is about buying the businesses, The Profit is about how to maximize the revenue of an existing one.

    You can pick up on a lot of tips on how run a really successful business.

    Sure these are brick and mortar, but you can still get a lot out of it.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by ItsJasonWright View Post

      I love Shark Tank, but haven't seen the Pitch.

      But one that I like even more than the shark tank is The Profit.

      The Profit

      Where Shark Tank is about buying the businesses, The Profit is about how to maximize the revenue of an existing one.

      You can pick up on a lot of tips on how run a really successful business.

      Sure these are brick and mortar, but you can still get a lot out of it.
      I agree it is a lot you can learn from The Profit. It shows how to run and improve a business, as opposed to a money making opportunity as most I.M courses, books and DVD's teach.
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