“Come and buy my widget!  My widget is the best because it has A, B, and C and, as well as all that, it’s on special this week.”

Blog: Want effective marketing? Try the Informercial Formula

For many small businesses, this is the marketing message they are relying on to keep the cash registers ticking over.  The problem is that their competitors’ widgets also have A, B and C.  So the only real difference is the price and competing on price is not a good basis for a sustainable business model.

A more successful marketing model which threatens to swamp our television screens particularly after midnight is the infomercial.  Judging by the diverse array of widgets marketed this way, the model must be effective.  This is despite the clearly scripted “interviews”, the painstaking revealing of each layer and the longer than 30 second time limit.

Analysing the infomercial format reveals some clues any business can use to create a more effective marketing message.

  • First, the infomercial will alert the viewer to a common problem. Examples of problems would be weight, nutrition, stress, need to exercise or even handyman problems.
  • Next, the problem is exaggerated. Ladders balancing precariously on uneven surfaces, sleep disorders, exercise discomfort or back/head aches etc all are made to appear insurmountable or at least a living hell.
  • Then the easy solution provided by the widget is presented along with plenty of “unique technologies” and “only availables” to emphasise that this widget is unlike any other widget. The A’s, B’s and C’s are not mentioned unless they can be directly linked to the solution being offered.
  • Of course, social proof is added with plenty of before and after vision, spoken testimonials and guarantees that the solution will work for you too.
  • And finally we have the “very special offer for the viewers”. Here the value equation is emphasised with the common “buy one and get a second one free” or call now to get the steak knives too as well as the instruction book that is valued at $99!

The actual price is rarely mentioned – usually it’s a free 30 day trial in your home but the uniqueness is often repeated to dissuade comparisons.

It is important that small businesses planning to apply the infomercial formula to marketing their own widgets remember that this is only a lead generation process.  The sale is still made when the viewer calls the 1800 number to order.

Having an efficient and effective back office system to complete the sale and, where possible, convince the viewer that the deluxe model is really going to solve the problem so much better is an essential part of the process.

Take some time today to consider what problem your widget is solving (if you don’t know, ask your customers – please don’t assume you know or assume that what you think is in fact the case).  Then consider whether focussing on the solution infomercial style will improve the effectiveness of your marketing process.