How to Get Your Small Business on Television
All small business owners want to be seen and respected as an authority in their fields. For Clint Arthur, one strategy stands out as the best way to gain trust and influence: Get your business on TV.
“The most important thing any entrepreneur can do is raise their status in the eyes of customers and prospects,” said Arthur, CEO of Status Factory, which provides speaking and TV training. “The lowest-hanging fruit—the easiest way, the most cost-effective way—any entrepreneur can raise their status is to be featured as a guest on a TV station or talk show.”
In an era when any entrepreneur can share expertise online, the “as seen on TV” badge still makes a powerful statement, Arthur said. A TV appearance implies that you know what you’re talking about—so much so that you were invited to share your knowledge with thousands of viewers.
Regardless of industry or speaking experience, any small business owner can land a TV appearance that can result in speaking appearances, leads, and sales. Here are Arthur’s tips for getting your small business on TV.
Trust your expertise
Arthur’s first words of advice for small business owners about being on TV: You can do it—despite the doubts you might have about your type of business, your experience, your speaking skills, or even your appearance.
“It’s amazing, the amount of self-sabotage, the amount of ‘who am I?’ that people have,” Arthur said. “‘Who am I to think that I could be a celebrity? Who am I to think I could be on the news?”
The fact that you know your industry makes you valuable to TV producers, who look for subject matter experts to interview on a daily basis.
One of most Arthur’s most successful clients has a small business that’s decidedly unglamorous. But the auto mechanic from Pittsburgh, Arthur said, has worked his way from local TV appearances to becoming a main-stage speaker at a national conference.
Send a pitch
TV may seem like show biz, where all that matters is who you know. But Arthur said any small business can successfully send a cold pitch to TV producers, as long as it answers two questions: Who are you? And why should anyone care?
“It’s a matter of putting together a one-page proposal that pushes TV producers’ hot buttons and makes them believe that you are somebody they should have on the show,” he said.
Your pitch should correlate your expertise with a story idea, preferably one that’s timely. For example, you won’t attract much interest if you introduce yourself as the owner of an HVAC company with great customer service. There are dozens or hundreds of people like you in your city.
But a TV producer might take notice if you pitch your five tips for getting an A/C unit ready for summer—when next week’s forecast calls for unseasonably hot weather.
Every day, TV stations need stories, and those stories need sources. If the topic of your pitch is going to be on everyone’s minds, you can bet it will be on TV.
Prep for your appearance
You might be the type of person who can talk to anyone on an airplane or at a party. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your conversational skills will translate to a short TV segment.
If a TV interviewer asks why you started your business or what makes you an expert in your field, you’ll of course know the answers. But can you respond in only a few sentences? Arthur recommends practicing your introduction, business story, and advice in sound-bite form.
“You have to start learning how to speak and deliver something that’s moving and gets people to take action in only three minutes,” Arthur said.
Help, don’t sell
As a business owner, you obviously hope that a TV appearance will result in leads and sales. But unless they’re watching commercials or QVC, no viewer wants to see a sales pitch on TV.
“The whole reason they have you on the show is for you to give valuable information to the audience,” Arthur said. “If you try to do a commercial for your auto repair shop or say that everything is in your book, that’s not going to be enough.”
Instead of talking about the success of your business, consider discussing how you helped a customer through a particular challenge. Think of what you’d say to a friend or family member who called you looking for advice, Arthur said.
“Every great TV segment starts with a great problem,” he said.
As a business owner, the goal of appearing on TV isn’t necessarily closing sales but gaining awareness and trust from people who might need your product or services in the future.
Build your speaking resume
The best way to get the gig is to show you’ve done it before. Arthur recommends that small business owners who aspire to be on TV also work on speaking at events—whether you talk at a conference or as part of a local Toastmasters chapter. Public speaking not only helps you polish your skills, it also allows you to build a speaking resume that heightens your credibility among TV producers and event organizers.
“You need to be speaking everywhere you can,” Arthur said. “Try to develop signature stories for your life, about how your adventures made you who you are and why you do what you do today.”
The TV segment may be only three minutes, but its benefits can last for months and years to come. Arthur recommends leveraging your TV appearance in the rest of your marketing materials: The video makes for high-quality, visual content that stands out on your website, social media channels, and emails.
Moreover, he said, showing that you’ve appeared on TV makes you appear to be knowledgeable, trustworthy, and superior to your competitors—the kind of person every small business owner should aim to portray, Arthur said.
“Your job as an entrepreneur is to position yourself as that kind of person in the eyes of your customers and prospects,” Arthur said.
Clint Arthur is a featured speaker at ICON, Infusionsoft’s annual conference dedicated to small business success, taking place April 24-27, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. For more information, visit attendicon.com.
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