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  • Writer's pictureNikki Obrien

What Rihanna’s halftime show taught me about smart business…

There’s a lot of noise in the online business space *especially for women* about "charging your worth” and “knowing your value” with Business Coaches often telling you to say NO to an unpaid gig - but is it worth a considered yes?

Whilst I wholeheartedly agree that you should know what an hour of your time is worth and to regularly re-evaluate your pricing and adjust accordingly – knowing when to accept an UNPAID golden opportunity is imperative to growing your business and marketing reach… RiRi taught me it’s just smart business and discerning this is what separates the Biz Queens from the burnt-out boss babes of the online business world.

So what did analysing the aftermath of Rihanna’s halftime Superbowl show teach me about smart business?



You may not know that the NFL doesn’t pay their artists to perform – they do it FOR FREE! Sure, they foot the production bill but the NFL understands the value of their audience (118 million viewers in 2023) so they leverage that platform to attract top tier performers in exchange for exposure to their audience.

Business Coaches love to tell us to “charge your worth” and “don’t do anything for free” yet Rihanna, one of the world’s biggest pop stars and a woman who knows her worth performed for free!

This is where it gets interesting – what she did instead to make sure she made BANK for her precious time and energy, amazing talent and mind-blowing expertise, is pure genius!

Pre-show warm up


Before she performed Rihanna put out a Tik Tok video showcasing Fenty Beauty Foundations, associating it to the Superbowl. She did this by moving through the different colours of the foundations and having those colours ‘drip’ onto footballs, so in our minds we are already associating Fenty Beauty with the SuperBowl.

During the performance she used that massive platform to ‘subtly sell’ her foundation by blotting her makeup live on stage mid performance. A small gesture that made massive ripples, resulting in searches for Fenty Beauty going up 883%.


Follow through

After her performance she edited down the halftime show video and released a Tik Tok video of the moment she blotted her makeup live on stage.

She had a plan… a strategy, to seamlessly associate Fenty Beauty with her Superbowl halftime show so that sales increased, ensuring she got paid for the performance after all.

Listen, music sales going up are a basically given, she’s a performer showcasing her musical talents in front of a new audience, it’s no surprise that she got an overall spike of streams on Spotify of a 640% increase and 331% on Apple. Song sales, album sales, all increased as a result – but what I LOVE about what Rihanna did was use the platform she had been given to increase sales and visibility for her beauty product line. This is smart business.

So how can we apply these kinds of tactics for online business?


There are five things you need to consider *before* saying YES to an unpaid opportunity:

How big is the audience


If you’re doing something for free SIZE DOES MATTER. This is where doing a few minutes of due diligence and asking the hard questions will pay dividends in the future. You need to look at how big their social media following is, ask them what their reach is i.e. email list etc, what is the calibre of their previous collaborations, have they had previous media exposure? All of these factors tell you whether this is a good investment of your time and energy. If you’re going to be bringing the goods you want the biggest bang for your buck!


Is it a high-quality audience?


Like I say in my free Guest Speaking Guide, sometimes big doesn’t always equal high-quality! The things to look out for here are, is the audience invested in their leader or host? Do they trust them? When you are borrowing someone’s audience the leader of that audience is handing you the baton of trust, they are saying by association that you are to be trusted too, so make sure their huge audience hasn’t been bought, but EARNED. Community leaders who are invested in their audience are like protective Lioness’ and will only bring in the most trusted, aligned people and brands to showcase or teach their audience so check this by looking at how much engagement they get or by scrolling back and having a look at the steady growth. If they’ve gone from 1K followers to 50K in a day, babe that ain’t what it’s cracked up to be – feel me?!


How can you associate your product or service to the borrowed audience


Rihanna did this so effortlessly we *almost* didn’t catch it, by running a pre and post-performance video via Tik Tok she seamlessly associated her Fenty beauty brand with the Superbowl. You can apply this to your online business by looking at whether your service or product fits the ‘borrowed’ audience without directly competing with the leader or host. If you directly compete with the leader or host, honey, it’s a waste of your time because that audience, that community is more invested in their leader than you no matter how awesome you are! Ideally you want some overlap so that the audience is filled with your target market without competing with the host, as an for example I am a podcast coach so speaking to the audiences of business coaches or social media managers is a great idea for me because there is some overlap with our audiences but I want to stay away from Podcast producers or studio because I would have to work harder to flip that audience to be loyal to me rather than their leader or host. Make sense?

If it’s not a direct match, how can you make the association for the audience… a great way to do this is use an experience you know most of the audience would have had and link in to your product or service.


Have you mastered the art of the subtle sell


Consumers are smarter than ever before and have moved away from being sold to directly, especially in the online space, so knowing how to stand out and ‘subtle sell’ is your biggest asset. Rihanna did this cleverly by casually blotting her foundation during her live performance, so how can you apply this kind of knowledge to your business? Through the art of storytelling. Rather than telling people about you and your brand (cold, hard sales pitch) how can you weave your product or service into the story of your life?

Educational content is great, but have you ever had your mind blown by someone saying something to you in a way you’ve never heard it before? THIS gets you remembered. Sharing stories that perfectly articulate what it is you do, with your unique sauce, or demonstrating an analogy or perspective shift to reframe something for that audience will have you shoot straight to the top for their list.




Is there an easy ‘next step’ for that audience to take with you


Before you execute your ‘performance’ you need a strategy to support you, this is you building the foundations, having a clear plan of where you want this audience to go next with you is imperative to success. What offer/product or service are you wanting to funnel them into? Low cost, easy access and automated systems will serve you (and your new audience) well here. You don’t want your new audience to have to jump through hoops, wait to book a discovery call with you or painstakingly wade through endless text on a sales page. The less clicks for them to reach a quick win with you the better!


There are lots of ways to do smart business, and entrepreneurial marketing *can* feel aligned and easy whilst effortlessly bringing in more sales. So next time someone reaches out and pitches to you about being an unpaid guest on their podcast, mastermind or community, have a think about whether this is a golden opportunity for you to bring in fresh new faces to your audience.


If you want to know more about Guest Speaking for business + learn how to make your own Media Kit checkout my Media Mogul Magic course here (just $99 AUD!)


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