Should You Pay to Be on TV? Maybe…

By , The Entrepreneurial Guru for Women

Solo-E Certified Solo Entrepreneur Expert


, Text Only Admin

Solo-E Certified Solo Entrepreneur Expert

Ali Brown - The Entrepreneurial Guru for Women

Most of us would do anything to snag a TV interview where we could promote our business, book, program, or event to viewers around the country. And there’s a rise of a certain type of talk show called “branded entertainment” that could get you there faster than you think, because you can pay to appear on them.

This is no secret in our industry, but because these shows are targeting many of my clients and members, I’ve received several questions asking about these types of opportunities and if they are worth it.

So let’s discuss what these opportunities are, the pros and cons of this type of marketing tool, and open up a conversation about it as well.

Not Your Average Infomercial

These shows aren’t the cheesy infomercial-type talk shows you see repeatedly running in the middle of the night. Instead, they are beautifully produced, professional shows that run on networks you know. What’s different about them compared with traditional TV talk and news shows is you typically pay a fee in the thousands of dollars for a 5-minute segment.

A great example of one of these types of shows is The Balancing Act—a high-quality talk show that airs on Lifetime weekday mornings at 6am. They pursued me two years ago, and at that time they were asking for a $40,000 “production fee”! (I declined.) I have heard recently they are offering appearances for around $5,000, but I have not been able to verify that. There are also emails going around now promoting the opportunity.

Seems like there are more shows like this popping up, including The Art of Living, a fun one hosted by the vivacious Marilu Henner, whose producers contacted us last year. And I’m sure there are many more.  But these are the two I have been getting questions about.

The producers of these shows seek out authors, speakers, and experts on the Web—people who would love to be on TV and know it would help their business—and offer them an appearance on the show for a fee. They buy the airtime from the networks (typically at off hours that don’t get peak viewership), and then sell featured spots. Some call their practices “predatory”, but honestly I think it’s a brilliant business model. Their guests pay to play. And the networks sell off-peak airtime. And like it or not, ALL of TV is based on making money, whether shows are selling ads or appearances.

What to Expect if You Are Contacted

Because you may be approached by these types of shows, you should know what to expect. The part that I personally experienced, and did not like, was their dancing around the fee issue. I hear this is their standard practice.

I was a bit naïve when first contacted early last year, and I was already doing a lot of media. So when they called, we treated it like any other conversation with producers.

Then I noticed they had us on the phone for quite awhile… much longer than any producer had ever had us on the phone. I was starting to think something was fishy, because this was all about a 5-minute appearance… Why so many questions? Then after we hit the 30-minute mark, they slipped in the fact that there was a “production fee”. Another show called it a “distribution fee”, so be aware of other terms.

So beware if they are keeping you on the phone for a long time. It means the big price reveal is coming up! Also be cautious if they want to talk with you multiple times. No TV producers of any “real” show I have ever appeared on have kept me on the phone for longer than 10 minutes, and we rarely talked more than once. For example, I think Fox Business Network talked with me once for about just 5 minutes before they sent a car for me to appear on the Cavuto show, same day.

Pros and Cons of Saying “YES”

Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of appearing on a show like this. On the upside, you get your business on TV! You can reach a national audience that you might never have thought of or ever reached before, and this could result in more leads, more sales, and expanded exposure.

You also get great quality footage of you on TV and promoting your product or service, which you can use on your website, YouTube, marketing materials, your media reel, and more. This is broadcast quality material, with a top-notch set and versatile host. You typically can’t do this stuff on your own budget.

And for positioning, you can now say you were seen on the ”XYZ network”, etc. It’s great for your credibility, and you’ll be able to say that forever. So if you have the cash, and you think it’s worth it, go for it! Just be smart and ask upfront about any and all fees involved. You don’t want to be surprised later on.

On the downside, it might not be an affordable option for you. And honestly, don’t expect a slew of new leads or sales from these types of shows. It’s only a 5-minute spot, and typically airing at an off-peak time on a cable network. And even if the producers say they include web marketing in their “package”, I have never known a client to get great response from these things. So don’t blow your entire marketing budget for the year on this one spot.

Again, I’m all about TV and the credibility it can bring. I just want to make sure you know how to decide if this model is a fit for YOU.

It’s All About You and Your Budget

In most cases I’d rather see my clients put that money into a targeted media campaign that results in multiple appearances. Hire a PR expert to help you target television, print, radio, and other media to be featured in as an expert. Get clips of all your shows and put together a strong media reel. This will help you get on more prominent shows, your media will start to snowball, and they’ll see you’re not a one-hit wonder.

Another alternative, and a more direct marketing approach, is to take that same budget and have your own “talk show” style infomercial produced that you can use on the Web, send to prospects on DVD, or even air it on targeted TV stations. This way you have a full 30 minutes, and are in control of your production. For these you can estimate a budget range of $10,000+, depending on the setup and quality.

Ali Brown is fast becoming regarded as the voice for women in business and success. After launching her first business from her tiny New York City studio apartment in 1999, she has grown it into what is today Ali International, a multimillion-dollar enterprise with 50,000 members that ranked in 2009’s Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies in the nation. recently ranked Ali as #1 Woman for Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter. Ali is dedicated to helping women start and grow their own businesses via her coaching and publishing company the Millionaire Protégé Club; her female-centric Ali Magazine; her online Ali Boutique; and Shine, her annual fall conference where Ali delivers the best in business-building strategies for entrepreneurs of all levels.

© Copyright 2011 Ali Brown

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