Marketing Information

Big Ticket Marketing in 28 Minutes


I read an article recently about how many mainstream retail companies are using the standard 28 minute infomercial to moreeffectively target customers and sell their products.

Now, I have to confess, I have never used an infomercial to market a Big Ticket product. But I have purchased many products after watching infomercials. The evidence is the Bowflex machine sitting upstairs in our spare room, the Tony Robbins CD sets on my shelf and the ProActiv solution my wife loves.

By the way, if you want to see a great example of a BIG Ticket exercise machine, check out the ROM Time Machine at http://www.fastexercise.com. They guarantee a workout in 4 minutes! But the price tag is $14,615. Think no one will buy this? I actually know one person who bought it. Not a bad day at the office when you make a sale like this one :-)

What I found interesting about this article is how infomercials were being successfully used to market Big Ticket items and how the infomercial is based on good, solid direct and internet marketing and copywriting principles.

First some statistics.

The article talked about Timothy Hawthorne of Hawthorne Direct based out of Iowa.

His company:

  • has produced and managed more than 500 infomercial campaigns for companies like Apple and Nissan
  • has nearly 70 employees
  • has $120 million in billings
  • owns a 15% share of the 1 Billion (Yes, Billion!) infomercial media buying customers

According to the article, Timothy Hawthorne does not consider himself an advertising guy. Instead he sees himself as what he calls an "audiovisual communicator" or storyteller." Hawthorne believes that an effective infomercial embeds a product in a tale of hope and transformation that entertains, delights and persuades".

Sounds an awful lot like the principles behind effective direct and internet Big Ticket marketing doesn't it?

You have a big ticket product. When you write copy for your product you want to really tell a story about how your product can transform a problem for your customer into a solution for that customer. The more closely you can make the customer feelas if he were the person in the story you are "painting" the easier it will be for him see how your product will solve his or her problem.

Persuasion occurs when you show the benefits of your product and also point out how your product can resolve any of the objections or reservations that a customer might have about the product.

In a long copy sales letter you persuade in print. In an infomercial you persuade with both sight and sound. Some website sales letters incorporate both by having audio or video testimonials for products just like an infomercial would have.

The article also states: "In contrast to the campaign-driven techniques that prevail in mainstream advertising, infomercial marketers combine rigorous product development, exhaustive consumer targeting, and daily scrutiny of advertising rates to create pitches that can be refined to maximize sales."

Again, this sounds just like what you would do in a direct or internet Big Ticket Marketing campaign.

You find a market hungry for a solution to their problems. You build a product which meets or preferably exceeds the desires and needs of that hungry market.

You ensure high quality in the product and you tailor your sales to your target audience (your defined niche).

As much as possible you pre-qualify the people who see your offer so they are already receptive to what you have to sell. On the web you could do this via Google Ad-Words and ensuring that keyword searches return a link to your product high up in the search results. If someone is already searching for keywords related to your product, chances are great they might be interested in your product.

In direct marketing, the pre-qualification might be managed by someone responding to an advertisement in a trade magazine on a topic related to the solution that your product delivers. They could call to hear a recorded message or write to obtain further information about your product. In both these cases, the customer is showing interest in your product and giving you information about how to contact them and follow up with them.

This is what is called "getting your customer to raise their hand" to show they might be interested in what you have to offer. And after you obtain their contact information and their permission for you to send them information, you follow up with them forever or until they tell you they are no longer interested.

Now, creating an infomercial is not the right approach for every product.

Here were some interesting points (from the article) about the infomercial business:

  • The typical infomercial viewer is a mass-market consumer between 30 and 50 years old with some college education and an annual income of $50,000
  • Only 30% of all TV viewers will buy anything sold on TV
  • Only 1 in 100 will actually dial the phone number given on the infomercial
  • The most successful infomercials are for products targeting fitness and diet, health and beauty, home convenience appliances and business opportunities.
  • Costs of product production, telemarketing and fulfillment for an infomercial can range from $35,000 to $350,000 per spot.
  • This can go as high as $1 Million if the infomercial uses a celebrity to endorse the product. And don't forget the cost of buying the media itself which can range from $20,000 for the initial small market test to as much as $1 million per week for a nationwide cable rollout.
  • Successful infomercials sell high margin products that sell for $30 to $1,000.
  • Only about 1 in 60 infomercials turns a profit
  • However, if your infomercial is successful annual sales could exceed 50 million
  • And if its a homerun infomercial it could be worth over 1 billion
  • Viewer recall of infomercials is 3 times higher than typical 30 second TV spots
  • Infomercials have phenomenal brand awareness

I also really liked another direct quote from the article: "'Real people' testimonials -- the backbone of all successful infomercials -- add credibility. And don't forget repetition. Lots and lots of repetition. Hawthorne's mantra: 'The more you tell, the more you sell.'"

Again, two more principles of direct and internet Big Ticket marketing.

In order to sell you must first get people to know you, like you and trust you. You can tell people how great your product is all day long but they will still be skeptical. Especially since your Big Ticket product has a much higher price! However,if you get other people to say how great your product is and how it solved their problem, you can convert other prospective customers because now you have people who have actually used your product and received the value of it telling them about it.

In email and direct marketing campaigns it sometimes takes as many as 7 customer contacts of essentially the SAME message before they even become "aware" of your product. There are lots of reasons for this. People are busy and ignore the your initial attempts. People may not be ready for your product right away but then their situation changes and they are finally ready for your "message". Your message may get lost in the mail or e-mail or just tossed away or deleted unread. That's why repetition is so necessary to get your message though!

Ok, and one final point: "Whatever the final sale price, the product must seem like a bargain -- all the better to trigger impulse purchases. Infomercial marketers know which consumer hot buttons to hit. 'Quick, easy, greed, new, fun, vanity,'Hawthorne lists. 'The infomercial needs to keep pushing as many of these as are relevant.'"

Again, classic direct and internet Big Ticket marketing principles used in copywriting in ads and sales letters. Both in infomercials and in direct and internet offers, you typically see a number of bonuses to entice the customer. In many cases the bonuses are worth more than the actual product itself, even for Big Ticket products. So in relative comparison the price of the product looks like a bargain based on the entire package that the customer gets when they purchase. Many times the sales copy will build a case for the high price of the product by comparing it to the cost of consulting or the pain and ongoing costs of not getting the solution. So again, in comparison, the price of even a Big Ticket product looks like a bargain to the costs of a more costly solution or the cost of continuing to ignore the problem.

Quick, easy, greed, new, fun, and vanity. If these describe the solution your product provides you definitely need to point these out as benefits or appeal to your customer based on their appeal. There is no difference here between the medias of direct, internet and infomercials. All of them address these because they are universally applicable.

Whether you decide to use an infomercial for your Big Ticket product or stick to Big Ticket direct and internet marketing I hope you can see that many of the principles involved for both are the same. Make sure you follow the principles whichever media you decide to use.

If you are interested in reading the article I read and on which this article is based you can find it in the June 2005 issue of Business 2.0 magazine. The article is entitled: "Stronger Sales in Just 28 Minutes" by Thomas Mucha.

Copyright (C) 2005 Chuck Daniel, Like Magic Marketing, LLC

Chuck is a former Microsoft software designer and program manager who spent more than a decade happily working on Email and CRM. Admittedly a seminar, workshop and information addict, Chuck left Microsoft to pursue his interests in personaldevelopment, internet, direct and information marketing and to promote and work for charitable causes.

Chuck Danielchuck@likemagicmarketing.com
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