Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Exercise the Strengths of Infomercials

A recent New York Times article analyzes the outstanding success of infomercials for Tony Horton’s P90X bodybuilding workout program. More than three million copies of the DVD set have been sold. Annual sales are at about $500 million. Singer Sheryl Crow, former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, and U.S. congressman Paul Ryan have all publically praised the P90X program.
     We think of infomercials as being limited to late-night television and home shopping channels. Those certainly has been their main arenas. But vendor expos, state fairs, and trade shows can serve as places for a live theatre infomercial format.
     The hyper-frenetic pace, a dramatic presentation style, and limited-time bonus offers are all staples of the successful infomercial. Here are a few other research-supported twists added by Beachbody, the California company behind the P90X campaign.
  • Do more than make product and service claims. Document them in a documentary style. The P90X infomercials have less of the pitchman and more of the effusive testimonials from users. Research finds that consumers, conditioned by picks and pans on social networking sites, expect to hear the words of actual users. You might not be able to have all of your most successful customers at every state fair presentation. You can bring their success stories with you to share with the audiences.
  • Do more than tell the identical dramatic accounts to every audience. Tailor the tale. Use different stories, with distinctively designed benefits statements, for different audiences. Beachbody has infomercials aimed toward senior citizens and evangelical Christians. Consumers want person-to-person. Maintain pleasant eye contact, whether it’s looking in the camera or at the people in front of you. Not a harsh staring, though. And be aware how among some cultures, direct prolonged eye contact is considered aggressive, flirtatious, or worse. In these cases, use briefer and less continuous glances.
  • Do more than guarantee results. Challenge the shoppers to experience the product or service. The NYT article says that the breakout difference with the P90X campaign was positioning the workout as so tough that only the elite could handle it. Consumers overall want ease of use and turnkey solutions. At the same time, researchers at Harvard University and Columbia University find that consumers who are interested in being productive in their lives are attracted to collecting experiences. Productive people are also especially likely to have the disposable income to buy whatever it is you’re selling in your infomercial.
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Personalize the Selling Message

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