How to Tell a Story – Shark Tankaway #3

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How to tell a story. A timeless conundrum that can be one of the most common and frustrating challenges entrepreneurs face. At Wheelhouse Factory, we love to find creative ways to remove these obstacles. Not only did we build workbooks with tons of great exercises to help you along the way, but we also launched the Shark Tankaway series. A collection of articles that explore the lessons learned from the show, Shark Tank. In this article, we will dive into how to tell a story in a way that captures your audience.

For longtime viewers, you know there is no shortage of wild and unexpected outcomes. Since 2009, the show has been an absolute goldmine for people interested in building a product or service. There are dozens of takeaways and educational moments within each episode. We love to synthesize these moments into useful tips and tricks you can apply to your entrepreneurial venture. In previous articles, we’ve looked at how you can remain confident and persistent, even after receiving negative feedback. We’ve also explored how you can ensure your idea is useful before you pitch it to the world. Now, we’re going to hone in on how you can create a stronger connection with your audience. With that goal in mind, let dive into Shark Tank can teach you how to tell a story investors, customers and partners will want to hear.

Create an environment your audience wants to be a part of.

The ability to create an engaging story around your product or service is a true talent. When communicating the origin, purpose and impact of your idea, the audience needs to feel welcomed. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Bringing customers into your world can differentiate your business. Find a way to help your audience connect the dots between what motivated you to pursue a venture in the first place and the reason why the world needs your product to exist. Failure to make this connection could be a show stopper regardless of how great the product is. We can’t let your audience feel that way.

There are some fantastic Shark Tank examples of storytelling out there on YouTube. Our favorite has to be from the RuckPack pitch. In less than one-minute, creator Rob Dyer leads the sharks into a compelling environment. Once they are in, Rob has their unwavering attention. With all eyes on him, he shows how his energy drink is different from all the others in the marketplace. Let’s walk through the play-by-play of this pitch and appreciate how excellent it is.

It’s all about the first impression.

Within the first ten seconds, you know everything you need to know about the product. First and foremost, the entrepreneur is in his military uniform. Before Rob says a single word, your eyes are immediately drawn to him. His camouflage pants, matching top and traditional military crew cut command respect. Right off the bat what does the audience know about the product? Someone diligent, focused and courageous built this product. All main ingredients for a soldier as well as an entrepreneur.

Next, you hear the hook. “What is RuckPack? It’s the world’s first peak perform nutrition shot. And it was designed and tested by spec ops forces.” Wow. This is an energy shot for special operations soldiers designed by special operations soldiers? Talk about instant credibility. If this nutrition shot works for soldiers risking their lives every day, then it must be good enough for Joe Schmoe trying to get over his hangover on some random Tuesday morning.

Engage and immerse.

As the pitch continues, Rob makes a sharp left turn and brings the sharks, as well as the viewers, into his world. At this point we are without question fully immersed in watching Rob tell us his story. He effectively describes the nature of his work. First, by explaining that each mission can last for over a week. Then, sharing that the only food available is what he brings into the mission with him. The product can be the difference between life or death. This isn’t something that some convenience store manager is going to take a flyer on. This is a product that soldiers handpicked to bring alongside other essential materials. In Rob’s world, this is not a nice to have, he needs this product to survive. But we’re not all soldiers. Why does the everyday person also need this product?

The answer is that other energy shots out there aren’t as effective! They are caffeine bombs that bring you up and then drag you down. Rob takes us even deeper into his world, “in that environment lives can be lost if you’re not operating at 100%”. As a viewer, you relate it to your world. You think about the things in your workplace, in your life, that can’t afford to be compromised by a crash. And that is when you’re hit with the real game-changer. The energy shot is caffeine-free. You mean, people can have the energy boost without the jittery side effects, sleep deprivation and unavoidable crash? Sign us up! To no surprise, Rob walked out with a deal with not one, but two sharks

Great stories are not complicated.

The thing we love about Rob’s storytelling is simplicity. All he did was perfect the art of how to tell a story. There weren’t any fog machines, gimmicks or lasers. The entire pitch was a man in his uniform sharing his connection to the product. It was more powerful than any PowerPoint presentation or celebrity endorsement. This effective approach is not out of reach for you. Above all else, the takeaway here is that you need to invest in developing your story. What was your catalyst to pursue your idea in the first place? How will it change the world for the better? At the end of the day, the most powerful and convincing pitch you could give is one that is genuine and unapologetically your own.

If you want to read more of our Shark Tankaways, please check them out here!

– Trevor Lightfoot

Wheelhouse Factory Team - Trevor Lightfoot - Executive Officer - headshot photo

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