When I turned the corner on East 80th Street in Manhattan there were more than 150 people waiting in line to buy my 88 unsold New York City apartments. 1988 was the worst real estate market in a decade and the unwanted units had been sitting on the market for more than three years. So, I had decided to price them all alike – big apartments, small apartments, high floors, low floors, some with views and other units facing brick walls. I announced to my salespeople we would be having a secret sale on Monday and they should only tell their very best customers and family members, as the best apartments would surely go first! My first come, first served warning brought more than 200 larger buyers to our sales office, creating a feeding frenzy. We sold everything within the hour! I tucked my happy million dollar commission check in my pocket 30 days later, knowing the one-priced sale saved my tiny real estate business from bankruptcy.
Today, as an investor shark on ABC’s hit reality show Shark Tank, I wouldn’t invest in many businesses if not for the other four greedy sharks bidding on them. Once an entrepreneur gets one shark to bite, he can count on a few more jumping and the ensuing feeding frenzy gets him the money he came in for. The feeding frenzy continues when the episode airs, with viewers at home ordering merchandise online in minutes. The entrepreneur is wooed by all the big box stores–angel investors who had absolutely no interest in the business the week before. Everybody wants what everybody wants.
When Rick and Melissa Hinnant of Grace and Lace showed off their trendy socks on Shark Tank, they sold a million dollars in socks within four days! When fashion designer Gayla Bentley showcased her snappy dresses “for the plus-size woman,” Stage Stores became the first national retailer to carry her line. When Tiffany Krumins demonstrated her little elephant-shaped medicine dispenser to help sick kids take their medicine, giant CVS immediately ordered fifteen thousand units. And when Kim Daisy showed her delicious home-baked Daisy Cakes on Shark Tank, her website crashed as folks ordered 20,000 cakes within eight minutes.
Everybody wants what everybody wants – and nobody wants what nobody wants – is what I learned in selling 2 billion dollars of real estate over 30 years and is the dictum played out every week on Shark Tank, to the both the viewers’ and the entrepreneurs’ delight. If you don’t have enough demand for your product or for your service, you should dream up a way to create the illusion that there is.