I was reflecting on one of my favorite reality shows, Big Brother, and remembering a piece I wrote in 2014. Enjoy this throwback piece that I still think is relevant today!
Businesses can learn a lot from "Big Brother" - as in, the hit reality show on CBS that is now in its 16th season. This probably comes as a shock if you're familiar with the show's premise: contestants use deceit to achieve the ultimate goal: to be the last one left in the house and the winner of $500,000.
I’ll admit I’m a huge fan, and never took it all that seriously – but honestly, there’s a lot that can be learnt from the show that can easily be applied to business strategy.
#1. Honesty is unexpected and refreshing. The latest season of Big Brother has contained some pretty shocking moments – some shocking simply because they involved someone being open-faced and honest. One of this season’s contestants, Donny, is actually incredibly well-liked by both houseguests and audience members because of one simple reason – Donny is one the few people who came to play an honest game. He is immediately genuine and friendly in all of his actions. This, strangely enough, is actually analogous to the business world. Though a show about deceit seems incredibly disconnected to reality, consumers are so used to companies stretching and manipulating the truth that honesty about their products or business model may actually be a draw for business.
#2. Try, try again – people will remember it. You know that old adage – “If it at first you don’t succeed, try again.” This seems like pretty obvious advice, but it’s important to remember for another reason – your competitors will remember you as a tough challenger even if you don’t ever beat them. Big Brother contestants are constantly targeting other contestants that seem like true challengers who are really giving them a run for their money – even if they haven’t ever technically won a single competition. People – and companies – who are fiercely competitive are terrifying to others in the field, and are considered a force to be reckoned with.
#3. Being “the best” isn’t everything. If you ask Big Brother fans who their favorite contestants are, they’re not always going to bring up the people who did all that well – they might instead say it was someone who was outlandish, who was very funny, or was really relatable throughout the game. While being better than any of your competitors is always a great feeling, it doesn’t always mean you’ll have every customer in your pocket. Sometimes going for an alternative strategy may be more beneficial. Your company can be the funny one, or the quirky one – and you may find that it takes you places you were never expecting to go. Just like some Big Brother contestants have a small group of extremely dedicated and faithful fans, a brand that is unique in its strategy may attract a similar flock of loyal and profitable customers.
So, at the end of the day, it’s probably not best to base your entire business strategy over what’s going in the latest showmance or alliance – but it’s interesting to note how a crazy reality show like this can provide some useful insight for the real world.