On ABC's Shark Tank, Tania Patruno owner of Pro NRG, a water based energy, vitamin and protein enhanced fitness drink was seeking a $1.7 million investment from one of the highly successful "Sharks" – real estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran, founder of FUBU clothing Daymond John, venture capitalist Kevin O'Leary, technology magnate Robert Herjavec, and business mogul Marc Cuban. She did walk away with a financier in Daymond John for $250,000 at 30 percent ownership contingent on him taking control and making a deal with another product in which he is an investor. O'Leary forbid John to offer a $1.7 million investment after pointing out her distributors are making more money than she is and she is upside down – two reasons why he was out as a stakeholder. Knowing the numbers is extremely important but for the purpose of this commentary, I was captured by Corcoran's advice.
Patruno lost out on a higher investment for two reasons 1) not fully understanding her numbers 2) not being a compelling storyteller.
Once Patruno got past her rehearsed lines about the product a barrage of questions from the "Sharks" began:
O'Leary – "Tania what am I actually buying here? Am I trying to get a boost, do I get jacked up, am I trying to lose weight?"
Patruno – "It's the only one of its kind. Pro NRG simplifies what your body needs."
John – "Is it like a Gatorade or Red Bull?"
Brandon Jacobs – "No. It's not either one of those."
Herjavec – "Is it a weight loss product?"
Cuban – "Because these guys have never been in a gym they don't quite understand." "This is a complement to a workout. You want to rehydrate and you also want protein to rebuild your muscles."
O'Leary – "Well Mark, shouldn't Pro Nerve tell me that?"
Corcoran – "Tania you failed to be clear as to what the product was after a lot of conversation. Even when I look at your packaging here, it's even confusing as a standalone. And I want to make a note about Brandon. I don't think you utilize him well at all... The first time he engaged me was when he told his locker room story... but, because of your confusion of your message alone, which I think you've got to clean up, I'm out."
Her endorser San Francisco 49er Brandon Jacobs told the his story better because he had something to say as a pro athlete and two-time Super Bowl champion. He shared a tale about drinking the product in the locker room when he was a New York Giant during the playoffs and while playing in the Super Bowl. Patruno's story was a quick mention about weight loss and trying other diets fads before coming up with Pro NRG to "Rehydrate. Replenish. Refresh." And then rapidly moving on to the number of distribution points.
The segment ends with O'Leary stating, "I think you need to reposition this." And Cuban disagreeing with, "I think anybody who works outs understands completely."
Another reason having a clear message is vital. It will dictate your target market and remove any confusion.