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Infomercials are more than just a great way to sell a product. "[They're also] one of the most effective tools in generating consumer demand to get your product into retail stores," says Tim Hawthorne, an infomercial industry pioneer and author of The Complete Guide to Infomercial Marketing (NTC Contemporary Publishing, $60, 800-323-4900).

There's a catch, of course: Infomercials are expensive. Hawthorne, whose Fairfield, Iowa, company, hawthorne direct, specializes in creating, producing and managing marketing campaigns, says producing and airing a 30- to 60-second test spot for one week costs between $25,000 and $40,000; running a longer national spot costs another $100,000 per week.

Fortunately, there's an alternative. An infomercial or direct-response TV marketer may be willing to buy your product wholesale or pay you a royalty based on a percentage of sales. In return, they put up the entire cost of the production and campaign.

To find such companies, Hawthorne suggests combing ads in trade publications such as Response TV or DRTV News. You've got the best chance of striking a deal if your product is a unique item that has mass appeal, solves a common problem, can be easily demonstrated, and costs less than $50 with a markup of 500 percent or more.

Marketers are attracted to infomercials that test well because they're virtually guaranteed to make back every dollar spent for advertising. The bonus for you: A successful infomercial will generate a flood of calls from major retail chains seeking your product for their shelves.

Contact Sources

Hawthorne Direct, 300 N. 16th St., Fairfield, IA 52556, (515) 472-3800

Probe Inc., (310) 657-6333, http://www.spytechagency.com

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