SOURCE: Script To Screen

June 05, 2013 11:00 ET

Script To Screen Principals Ken and Barbara Kerry Share Secrets to Success in Creating a Winning Infomercial

Principals of the Multi Award-Winning Santa Ana, California-Based Creative Production Agency Introduces Marketers to the Fundamentals of Direct Response Television

SANTA ANA, CA--(Marketwired - Jun 5, 2013) - You may joke about them, scoff at them or even turn your nose down on them -- but you should never dismiss them. Infomercials are big business. They make look easy -- but nothing could be further from the truth. Infomercials carry a big upfront cost -- product development, sourcing and manufacturing, production, media buying and vendor services such as telemarketing and product fulfillment. As a result, it's critical to obtain as much information as possible about your product, your target consumer -- and whether direct response television (DRTV) -- the industry term for 'infomercials' -- is the right platform for your product.

"Generally, the best products for infomercials are ones with mass appeal -- beauty, health, fitness, automotive, food preparation -- everyone wants to lose weight, look their best, take care of their cars and eat a healthy diet. Going as broad as possible with your product's appeal will enhance your chances for success by aiming for the widest possible market," says Script To Screen's Ken Kerry.

Consumer research is another critical early component. Professional research firms can be costly -- but it can be far more costly to launch a campaign that ultimately fails. Research can help you tweak your message, identify the best price point, even refine the product. You can opt to create your own focus group sessions by gathering consumers that match your target market, however bear in mind that the professionals who conduct them, do so via scientific and proven methods. 

Following consumer research, it is recommended you conduct a limited test, rather than proceed with a full national roll-out of your infomercial campaign. A test is usually a 2-week phase comprised of buying a cable network that best suits your product appeal (i.e. an automotive product media buy might best be suited on a male-skewing cable network). If the phones don't ring during the test period, you have a problem. It could be the infomercial script, the telemarketer script (what telemarketers say to consumers when they call) or the product itself. Consumers are very savvy and have the uncanny ability to identify products that are mediocre or worse. 

"Analyze your product to understand the specific markets you need to reach. Then analyze everything you can about your target market's viewing patterns. You have to reach them to have any chance at success. It is important to understand that infomercials are largely an impulse buy. As a result, your product -- and its core messaging -- must first demonstrate that consumers have a problem, (even though they may not be aware of it until they see your infomercial), and that your product presents the solution," adds Barbara Kerry. 

Given the channel choices viewers have, the infomercial itself must have entertainment value to immediately capture consumer attention -- and provide enough early enticement to ensure consumers will remain with the entire program. Properly positioning your product via the infomercial makes all the difference. This is where product demonstration comes in. One key to a successful infomercial is how compellingly it demonstrates the product. The demonstration must not only show the product at work -- it needs to prove that the product does work. The demonstration must go beyond merely the 'before and after' to dramatically show how the product delivered the results. Because viewers can't touch and feel your product as they can in a retail store, it becomes imperative that every possible question they have about the product is anticipated and answered. 

The features and benefits segment of the infomercial is equally important. List out every feature and benefit your product has -- the more the better. Features and benefits are what draws an audience and holds their attention -- and ultimately encourages them to make the call. Pay no attention to the axiom 'you can't please all the people all the time' -- your infomercial has to be all things to all people within your target market.

In addition to offering an impactful demonstration and sharing the product's features and benefits, infomercials must also incorporate an effective 'call to action.' Adds Ken Kerry: "The call to action segment ties it all together -- answering any possible consumer objection... summarizing the demonstration (how your product solves the problem they have)... summarizing benefits and features... then making it easy for consumers to respond. Multipay options for larger ticket items... toll-free telephone number so that consumers don't have to pay for the call... website URL for easy direct purchase... guaranteed satisfaction -- these are must-haves for every call to action."

The simple ROI formula in infomercials has historically been the '5:1 ratio' which means that you must sell your product for five times what it cost to make in order to realize a profit. However, use this ratio cautiously -- the cost of media, consumer research, the cost of producing a winning infomercial, inbound telemarketing and product fulfillment costs have increased over the years. Still, the many success stories in the infomercial business continue to make this form of consumer marketing an enticing one for product inventors and entrepreneurs. "Explore the infomercial option carefully -- with guidance from industry professionals -- and yours could become a success story too," cited Barbara Kerry.

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