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What is it about all of those infomercials?

September 7, 2011

Mario Taormina, O2 Media, Inc.

I have always been a fan of infomercials.  After all, who can forget products like the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, the Chia Pet, and K-Tel Records?  I remember sitting home watching a music awards show in 1980 with the Legends of 70’s Rock hosted by Davey Jones of the Monkees.  I always wondered why all of the awards went to “one hit wonders” and not the Who or the Rolling Stones!   It was because they were going to sell you the “20 original hits by the original stars” at the end of the show in an exclusive television offer!

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In the early 80’s many of these “shows” were disguised as entertainment programs.  You would watch a show and then have the opportunity to buy the product.  Savvy brand marketers wanted in on the action.  Even Apple Computer produced an infomercial called “The Martinetti’s Bring Home A Computer.”  Things have come a long way in the direct response industry.  Ron Popiel’s company Ronco went bankrupt even after earning over 2 billion dollars with his Showtime Rotisserie oven and other gadgets.  But wait, there’s more! The company is now in its 50th year and is back as strong as ever.   

WHY?

Inventors and consumer product manufacturers realize that Direct Response is one of the most cost effective ways to create a brand and drive consumer interest. For every product that you see being sold on television, many more are sold at retail if the proper strategy is executed.  So why do so many products never make it to retail?   It is a poorly executed go-to-market strategy.

In Direct Response Television, the product must be king.  It must be a unique solution to a problem that is easy to explain and represent an exceptional value to the consumer.  The offer needs to be compelling so the consumer must connect to the product immediately (after all, that’s why we call it Direct Response).  Most importantly, the offer must have a sufficient margin to make it profitable.  Traditionally, DRTV products must have at least a 5-1 markup.  Once the first version of the creative message is complete, it needs to be tested on the air.  Never take a shotgun approach when testing media as you should look at networks, stations, markets and networks that have proven successful with similar products in the category.  This approach will minimize wasted media and give you a clear test of how the consumer is reacting to your message and it’s likely that you will adjust your creative multiple times in order to maximize the impact of your campaign.  Remember that the video production is a very small slice of a very large project. 

The product branding that is accrued through a DRTV campaign has a tremendous amount of value that when combined with other marketing tools can lift your brand while generating revenue at the same time.

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