There are many entrepreneurs, business owners and inventors that have made huge sums of money selling their products on direct response TV--from QVC to HSN.
Needless to say, only a few products are viable for TV sales, but many eligible candidates get rejected for wholly avoidable reasons. In this hyper-competitive environment where many people are chasing few opportunities, there are specific things you can do to greatly improve your odds of getting picked to sell your product on TV.
Consider Your Product
First, does your product fit into the key criteria that the buyers look for in a new product submission? Is it easily demonstrated on camera? Does it solve a problem? Is it unique enough and not in the mass market yet? Is there perceived value? What other products made it on the DRTV medium of your choice, and why?
Doing your homework is a huge part of your success later on. Remember, luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. Study the programs you're looking to pitch your product to--what do they offer, what types of products do they feature, what are their benefits, listen to their testimonials.
Consider Your Presentation
Once you determine which of your product offerings is right for TV you need to put together the right package. The presentation is extremely important. Sometimes buyers will only give you only a few minutes to convince them that your product is worth looking into more. One way to move buyers is to prove your product has an audience built in already, before it goes on air. Has it sold successfully in other markets like Fortune 500 companies, the promotional products industry or others?
Also the use of testimonials in your presentation--to show how your product has solved problems and provided value--always helps.
Lastly, if your product has already been featured in other media it's a good idea to include that in your presentation. I struggled through two years of rejection before getting my product on QVC. One of the shows that helped get my product featured was when the hit HGTV show I Want That finally featured one of my products. The clip from that show was then used as part of my QVC presentation.
Consider Your Supply Chain and QC Standards
Close the sale by backing up your pitch with action and follow through. Buyers need to know you can deliver on what you promised. Late shipments can cost you thousands and buyers need to know your manufacturer (and therefore product) is reliable.
Passing the quality assurance tests and having a manufacturing partner with a positive track record is critical.
Recently I interviewed AJ Khubani, who founded TeleBrands Corporation in 1983 on a "shoestring" with his life-savings of $20,000. Today, TeleBrands is a thriving hundred million dollar marketing giant well known for such hit products as the Jupiter Jack PediPaws and Windshield Wonder.
Here are some key strategies AJ Khubani recommends to keep in mind when preparing your product and sales pitch:
- Do the research. People who approach us must give us their research on the size of the market. Fundamentally they have to do their homework, come up with a good product and make sure no one else has a similar product out there.
- Understand the DRTV customer. If I want my product to sell in Walmart I have to understand how it's going to help Walmart. I have to understand Walmart's business philosophy and its customer.
I can't tell you how many people walk in here that don't know anything about my company, don't know what we're looking for. They come up with niche items that retail for hundreds of dollars. That's not who we are. We sell $10 and $20 products.
- Salesmanship is critical. We're in the business of sales, that's what we do. The person that comes in to pitch us has to really think about their own sales skills. I sit on the panel with my wife and another judge and we look at products and we get convinced. So the skill of the salesperson, that's a big part of it.
- You have to have a passion for what you're selling. Enthusiasm is a big part of a convincing presentation. Enthusiasm is contagious. If people are not enthusiastic about their own product, who else is going to be enthusiastic about it? It's got to rub off. I just had a national sales meeting and one comment I got back from my people is; "You're so enthusiastic, how do you keep that up for a two hour meeting?" I gave that a little bit of thought and realized I don't plan on being enthusiastic, it's just that I'm so excited about my business and so excited about my products. You have to be excited about your own business; if you're not then you shouldn't be in that business.
- There must be a problem that your product solves. Telebrands looks for products that have a demonstrable solution to a clear problem and have good potential for sale in retail stores.
You may have heard the saying, "Failing isn't falling as long as you don't fail to get back up..." Well, I added this ".with more intelligent action". It takes research, patience and perseverance to get picked up by a TV buyer. Sometimes you'll need to make adjustments to the product offering, the presentation or our supplier chain. The question you have to ask yourself is; is it worth it?