Station Breaks

Going Live

Home shopping channels like West Chester, Pennsylvania-based QVC are another road to potential DRTV riches. On the air 24 hours per day, seven days per week--and reaching more than 64 million U.S. households--QVC is always looking for new and innovative products to sell on its show "Big Time With Phyllis George." Unlike videotaped infomercials, "Big Time" is always live, and entrepreneurs who demonstrate their products can speak directly to consumers who call in to the show.

Scott Ellis, a buyer for QVC, says only products with "great demonstration quality" work with the QVC format. Some items sell very well on store shelves, says Ellis. But if you have a product that requires a demonstration to be understood or appreciated--especially if it's a new gadget no one has seen before--QVC may be your best bet.

To get your product on QVC, first call its Vendor Relations department. "You need [to provide] a picture of the item and a good description of what it does," says Ellis. "You need to be creative here because the buyer makes the decision based on this [information.] Spell out exactly why your item is different and better than [the competition's,] and highlight all the benefits your product delivers. We also need to know the wholesale and retail costs of the product."

Ellis says that while Vendor Relations reviews about 500 items per week, only 5 percent actually get selected. "The reason that number is so low is because I often find I've done a similar item [in the past] or that the product we receive isn't yet in production. I can't work with prototypes; I need items I can buy."

But the future is bright for DRTV marketing. As the number of homes with cable and satellite TV receivers continues to rise, entrepreneurs who want to hit the DRTV circuit will find more opportunities (and more viewers) than ever before. With a little marketing savvy and a photogenic product, perhaps you, too, can become a TV star.

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Station Breaks.

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