Three Reasons Why Infomercials Don’t Work

Infomercials are used to market a huge variety of products, but of course, not every infomercial is successful.  For every Sweating to the Oldies DVD, Set It and Forget It rotisserie, and Thighmaster phenomenon, there are thousands of infomercials that provide zero ROI for hopeful business owners.  The truth is that up to 50% of interested organizations shouldn’t do an infomercial at all, but many of those companies learn that the hard way.

Wouldn’t you love to know ahead of time if your infomercial was going to be a dud in terms of revenue generation – that your phone wouldn’t ring, no one would visit your website, and all the extra packing supplies you purchased in anticipation of a stampede of sales would go to waste?  Well, by taking a hard look at your business and at the infomercial production company, you can predict whether your infomercial will succeed or fail.  Here are three reasons you should run for the hills instead of ramping it up.

1. No one wants your product. This is a tough one, but it should be the first thing you examine.  Of the three reasons not to do an infomercial, this is the only one outside the purview of the infomercial production company, so naturally you want to look at it first.  Even if the production company is honest with you about this fact, they’ll charge you a consultation fee to tell you, and it will be hard to accept if you don’t already suspect the truth.  If you’ve tried a variety of other advertising campaigns that haven’t worked, focus groups don’t indicate an interest in your product, or you’ve had other indications that sales for the product will always be weak, an infomercial is unlikely to correct the problem.  On the other hand, if you truly believe in your product and are sure that you just haven’t found the right marketing niche for it, a consultation with someone in the industry (about $200) would be worthwhile.  Look for a company with some longevity; people who want your business over the long term won’t encourage you to throw your money away.

2. No one is watching the infomercial. This is the reason microcosmic testing of your markets and timeslots is so important.  Rolling out a national or even regional paid programming campaign is an expensive proposition if you haven’t tested.  The media buyer at the infomercial company should have significant hard data on how and why particular markets and timeslots are being selected for your product.  That data should be supported by new data showing increased phone calls and website traffic when you test.  Testing generally lasts for about four months and costs $20K-$40K.  Once you roll out the program, investigate obtaining financing or paying a per-inquiry charge to fund airing it so you can make sure it’s placed in the best markets and timeslots for your product.

3. The program itself doesn’t work. Even if people are watching your infomercial, it doesn’t work if they don’t obey the call to action and pick up the phone or go to your website and buy your product.  Paid programming works for its money because viewers support it with their purchases.  Infomercials use tried-and-true direct marketing practices, so many companies are able to save money on production and use it to get the best airtimes.  But business owners sometimes get caught up in making a “quality” program, when the truth is that subtlety and direct sales don’t go together.  Don’t discount the parts of the infomercial that seem “cheesy;” they’re there because they work.  A one-stop shop with years of experience in the industry can help you put together a great program in a short time.

Paid programming may be the perfect way to direct-market your product, but due diligence is key.  Taking an objective look at your product and making the most of your consultation with the infomercial production company will help you determine whether or not paid programming will pay off for you.

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