Why Your Business Needs to Get Ready for Britain’s Got Talent

Like it or love it, you can’t have missed the UK’s biggest variety contest on TV this week. (If you’re outside the UK and don’t know what it is, the winner gets to perform in front of the Queen – whoop!)

And if you saw it, maybe you noticed that it was a massive advert for why you need to start thinking differently about your marketing strategy.

“What?” I hear you ask. “I thought it was just a load of b…”. (Yes, let’s just leave that there.)

Circus of Horrors (from talent.itv.com)

Circus of Horrors (from talent.itv.com)

How to Get Noticed

From thousands of auditions, only 40 acts are chosen to progress to the semi-finals. Each act is selected to go on either because it was a near perfect display of someone doing something everyone’s seen before (like singing or dancing – yawn), or because it’s completely unexpected and original. Even if the judges don’t particularly like the act, an audience full of booing fans soon changes their minds.

Cue zany circus acts, bell ringers and even a man in his 50’s prancing around with sexy dancers in his brown tie and trousers.

If you’re extremely good at singing or dancing, you could get far, but you’re not guaranteed to win – there are just so many people doing what you do. There are just so many excellent singers, we don’t know who to listen to any more.

“Look! Some gran who’s also a great opera singer.” Nah, we’ve had one of those before. How about a daring dance troop? No, seen loads of them too. As my kids say – Boring!

It’s the original acts which people remember.

Originality – It’s the Name of the Game

But there’s a big problem with being original – it can only happen once. After that, any original act gets boring too. You’ll hardly ever see an original act get past the semi-finals.

Judges on Britain’s Got Talent invariably tell original acts, “you were great in the auditions, but we wanted you to step it up a level.” Now we all know that doesn’t make any sense – you don’t put someone forward because they did something unexpectedly amusing, then expect them to change their act the next time you see it. The problem was the original act you first saw isn’t original any more, and it just got boring. Really boring.

Watching the show, I was interested to see how often judges often said something like, “I could see that being a hit on YouTube, but not here.” They’re alluding to our psychological need to see something novel and surprising; a need which has become more insatiable as the internet has made it easier to find them.

So want to see something funny? Check your Facebook wall – your mates have probably put something there. Want to some some cute pictures of a cat in a small hat? Read your Twitter feed every day, and you’ll probably see one soon. It’s why internet usage is already matching that of TV. It’s why magazine readership is falling fast and why newspapers are clambering over each other to get on the iPad. They want electronic eyeballs.

So the question is, why are you still marketing like it’s 1980?

People don’t want leaflets now (they’ve got email). They don’t watch TV adverts (they record TV and skip adverts). They don’t want to read cheap magazines – they’re too busy checking out what their friends are doing on their phones. And they definitely aren’t going to take notice of your advertising if it’s just the same as everyone else’s.

The only thing that stops them in their tracks is something original and amusing – something which they can pass on to their friends later. Otherwise they’re just going to ignore it – because it’s boring.

So what can you do about it?

How to Be An Original Business Every Day

People want original and new stuff. They love it. They can’t get enough of it. But as a business, you can’t realistically offer funny videos or snippets of original humour every day – you’re too busy making a living.

But there is something original you can offer again and again – good deals.

People want good deals. They want them all the time. Interestingly, they don’t even have to be great deals, just good deals will do. Most of all, they want deals they can share. That’s why companies like Groupon are doing so well – users don’t unsubscribe from emails full of vouchers because something might just come up tomorrow that’s worth buying or, better still, worth sharing. A free voucher for a free coffee turns into asking a friend if they want to go out for coffee and they both head on out to get it. (And due to the reciprocation effect inherent in all of us, while they’re there, they’ll probably buy something else.)

So stop what you’re doing with advertising and marketing right now. Stop spending a small fortune on advertising which isn’t ever going to noticed any more. Start thinking like Groupon instead. Find a way for your business to make that that original “act” and get noticed by your new fans.

Find a way to get into their Facebook feeds and list of Tweets. Think about how you can get them to be amused or interested, even if it is just for that split-second of involuntary attention. Think about a deal you can entice them with which will enable you to get more deals to them in future.

And the next time they dodge past your advertising board in the street, with their head down reading on their phone, maybe they’ll have just seen your advert in their Facebook app, and they won’t have missed you after all.

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