Even though we know they are going to try and embarrass us, why do we go on the show? Of course, I’m talking about the hit TV series, “Dragons’ Den”. In the US, the equivalent show is called “The Shark Tank”. The premise of the show is entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to investors; referred to as “Dragons”. Business owners place a value on their business and then ask the investors for money in exchange for a percentage of their business. Most of the guests on the show walk away empty handed. For whatever reason, the investors opt out of the deal. There are very few people who receive the money they request. One of the successful entrepreneurs this Fall was a company selling “Muskoka” chairs made out of 100% recycled materials. They needed additional capital investment in order to keep up with the demand for their products. The demand has been so high that they’ve had to turn down some orders. The Dragons gave them the $1,000,000 they were looking for but the owners were forced to give away 50% of their business; not the 30% they originally offered. More often than not, the investors try to make a fool out of the business owner. Kevin O’Leary is well known for his arrogant put-downs of some of the guests on the show. I will never forget the episode when Kevin belittled two young kids who wanted money to help manufacture and market the board game they created. Kevin was so rude to those kids … what ever happened to encouraging entrepreneurship amongst kids? Fortunately, Brett, another one of the Dragons is kind hearted and he gave the kids $500.00 to help them get their small business off the ground. Another episode involved a young mom pitching her environmentally friendly diapers. The Dragons left her speechless when they bombarded her with questions about statistics related to the diaper market. She probably should have known the answers but were her efforts detrimental to her business in the long run? My guess is not! Because of the show, there are now over 2 million people knowledgeable about her business. Keep in mind that marketing is all about exposure for your product. The cost of advertising for a small business is usually cost prohibitive. Appearing on the Dragons’ Den is absolutely FREE. And that’s why my business, Tail Wags Helmet Covers, faced the fire of the Dragons! I had no intention of giving up a percentage of my business and I knew the Dragons would have wanted me to mass-produce my product overseas. I’m proud of the fact they are 100% Canadian made. How do I know if the publicity from the Dragons’ Den worked? First of all, I experienced an increase in sales after my episode aired. Second of all, every time I’m at a marketplace event, at least 50% of the people who walk by my booth say they saw me on the Dragons’ Den and their feedback is always positive! Would I take the risk and appear on TV again to promote my product? Absolutely! If Oprah Winfrey or “Kelly & Regis” called me tomorrow and asked me to appear as a guest on their show, I’d hop on the next flight over. What marketing tools work best for your company?
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