Few consumers will admit to watching infomercials—those 30-minute TV commercials peddling everything from kitchen appliances to beauty creams—let alone to buying from them. What consumers say and what they do are, however, are two different things. The fact is, infomercials give entrepreneurs the chance to tell their product’s story, to not only say what it does, but also to show how it works. And while few people confess to it, the reality is that one in four Americans has purchased a product sold in an infomercial.
Infomercials are big business for anyone who’s willing to look beyond their reputation at the facts. After all, infomercials enjoy $91 billion per year in sales and one successful spot alone can generate more than $40 million in sales within only three months. Given the right product and the right value proposition, infomercials can work wonders. And lucky for you, the winning formula is simple. Successful infomercials require:
2. Demonstrated solutions to everyday problems
3. A visible spokesperson
4. Honest endorsements
5. A compelling sales pitch
Evaluate your productBecause infomercials are product-driven, their success hinges upon the existence of buzz-worthy merchandise. To decide if your product is infomercial-worthy, ask yourself these five questions: Is it unique? Does it have broad appeal? Does it have benefits and features that can be visually demonstrated? Does it offer a convenient solution to a common problem? Can you reasonably sell the product for three to five times what it costs to make?
Build a strong sales propositionBefore you move forward with producing an infomercial, or even planning one, you must decide on a compelling value proposition. Structure your offer carefully; consider product features, price point, add-ons and premiums, as well as strategies such as two-for-one deals and free gifts, which are especially effective when selling to television audiences.
Plan your creativeSave money by developing as much of your infomercial in pre-production as possible. Start by scouting locations in which to film, building sets on which to work, writing your script and casting your actors, as well as getting a head start on any market research and public relations you might need to do.
Produce your infomercialProduction-actually filming and editing your infomercial-can take several months. Help the process along by hiring professionals-actors, producers, directors, technicians, etc. -who have infomercial experience. They know what strategies, formats and techniques work, and they can minimize both headaches and hiccups.
Buy airtimeWhen it's time to air your infomercial, be conservative. Test your ad first in smaller markets, running it for two weeks on broadcast and cable television and at various times of day in order to find out what gets the best results. When you're confident in your response, proceed with a more aggressive rollout.
Take and fulfill ordersAdvertising a product is useless if customers can't actually buy it. Infomercials aren't only about filming, after all; successful ones also have efficient ordering, fulfillment and customer service systems in place.
Expand into retailAn infomercial should never be your end goal. Make retail rollout part of your plan, too, in order to maximize profits and extend the lifecycle of your product.
- Good infomercials feature real customers and professional actors alike. Take the time and spend the money to find and film both.
- The best infomercial advice, according to experts: Don't fake it. Consumers appreciate and reward honesty and can always tell when an offer is too good to be true.
- If you're interested in infomercials, be willing to invest time as well as money; most infomercials cost between $20,000 and $250,000 to make and take many months to produce.
- Infomercials come in many formats; choose one that fits both your objective and your budget. The demonstration, in which a product is used on screen; the storymercial, which features fictional vignettes; and the documercial, which resembles a news report about your product; are examples of different formats.
- Successful infomercials rely on a visible spokesperson to both vouch for the product and sell it. And while celebrity endorsements can give your product instant cache, you do not need a famous spokesperson in order to succeed. Instead, focus on casting as your lead an approachable and experienced actor who will appeal to your target audience.
- Customers aren't likely to watch your entire infomercial from beginning to end; as such, infomercials generally contain several smaller "segments." Include a call to action at the end of each segment-at least every 10 minutes-to encourage viewers to, "Buy now!"
- The average lifecycle for an infomercial-before product saturation occurs-is six to 18 months.