Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Business Lesson From American Idol

I just finished watching an American Idol episode. Although I've seen maybe 10 minutes of the show over the years, my 5-year-old wanted to watch it tonight so I sat with him and we watched it for an hour before bedtime.
The show is certainly one of the most watched programs (No. 1 in last week's Nielson ratings), but it's not because of the singing. The show is tremendously produced. The producers of the show take you on a journey, where they let you meet and get to know each singer before he or she performs. These well-polished interviews take the viewers into the singers' homes and gives us a better idea of who they really are. For example, one contestant's wife just died a few months ago, making his journey unbelievable. Another had the challenge of raising a small child as a single parent, hoping to provide a great example for her daughter.
The show takes us into the lives of these individuals, gets us hooked into their personal story and then finishes (crescendo like) with the actual performance. Why would the show's producers do this? Why not just let the performers sing, just like any other karaoke contest?
The answer is simple: By telling their stories, it personalizes the entire process. The audience gets to know these individuals and starts rooting for them. You want to follow along with them on this journey.
If you are a small business, learn from this. Get out there and tell your customers and prospects your story. Let them know how you began with $200 and a phone book. Let them know how you've helped charities or how you've helped employees get through some tough times in their lives.
People will take notice and they'll began to root for you and your company. Don't underestimate how this support can help your business. Your fans will follow and support you. Now is not the time to be humble. Let people know your story.
--Ron Ameln, SBM