TOOLS & TIPS
TV Infomercials Offer Cure for Sluggish Sales
There are two things that middle, late middle, and senior age adults have in common: They all use/seek information on health & medical products, and they watch a lot of television. Direct Response TV (DRTV) taps into both opportunities. In recent years, pharmaceutical drug companies have aggressively invested in “lead generation” ads. The airwaves are now filled with 30- and 60-second ads – almost always of the “ask your doctor” style – that urge adults who suffer from a given ailment to seek information from physicians about “such-and-such” drug. These ads can’t directly sell product (it’s forbidden in prescription drug categories), but they serve to drive consumers to ask for brands by name. Viewers also buy medical products based on what they see on television. Using direct response TV spots and TV infomercials to sell health-related items has long been a tactic of companies who understand the ability of television to inform and educate consumers about product benefits. Infomercials are a natural fit if you’re seeking to sell as product in the home health category. These tips can help:
1. Increase sales and generate leads.
Many companies have literally created their businesses from infomercial-based purchases. The Ionic Breeze, Bowflex, Miracle Ear and others were built almost solely on infomercial selling. That sales volume led to expansion into other product areas and/or sales outlets such as retail stores.
Yet, not every advertiser who uses infomercials is selling directly via toll-free numbers. Select Comfort’s Sleep Number infomercial is designed to stimulate inquiries to phone operators and Internet pages that contain more information. Many high-end purchases in health and fitness are marketed via infomercials that don’t sell directly; they seek to find prospects who will likely need more information before making a purchase decision.
2. Support in-store selling efforts.
Retailers today know that marketers who use infomercials are really helping their in-store selling effort. Consumers digest TV advertising for many products and are reminded of their benefits when they see them on store shelves. Retailers are not afraid of infomercials taking sales away from them but instead welcome them for the business they drive to the store from those prospects who either won’t buy on TV or prefer dealing directly with a merchant.
3. Make content compelling.
Whether in full half-hour viewing or in channel surfing extended stays, TV watchers devote significant minutes to infomercials if the content is relevant and compelling. Health and well-being products tend to hold viewers’ attention and they hit home! Your product gets more than a casual look-see in a well-crafted infomercial message that clearly articulates product benefits.
4. Deliver a purer message.
Commercial breaks routinely feature one or more vehicle ads, sometimes several. The “cancellation effect” in a half hour series of breaks renders the impact of your ad potentially insignificant. With an infomercial, you get the entire half-hour to yourself, customizing the time to best suit your needs and objectives. Your message is the program, and you eliminate competitive clutter.
5. Take advantage of the new mainstream marketing tool.
Long dismissed by major marketers as inferior television advertising, giants like P&G, Clorox, Microsoft, Pfizer, and others have jumped on the direct response TV bandwagon in recent years to launch new products, generate leads, or build awareness for items they want to create excitement for at the retail level. If big retailers are starting to discover the power of DRTV given all the choices those big ad budgets give them, it would seem to validate that this marketing approach works. No wonder why new health products use infomercials to the extent they do.
6. Get help.
If you’re thinking of exploring the idea, infomercials are a specialty marketing strategy best left to companies experienced in developing them. Infomercials are more than just a longer commercial. They require a sophisticated approach that generates an immediate response. This isn’t work that can be handled by traditional marketing agencies and suppliers. Look for a partner that has worked with large and small companies to create powerful infomercial campaigns that work. It’s a specialty marketing business, and you need specialization and talent that works in this space. It’s no different than most other supplier situations: You find someone who knows the market, provides what you need, and gets it done the right way.
The home health care industry is booming as our population both ages and grows increasingly concerned about its personal welfare. Television remains the singularly most important advertising vehicle. The wealth of channels and networks devoted to individuals’ needs and wants—from sports to news to entertainment to lifestyle to health—has opened up lots of opportunities to reach prospects interested in gaining more information about products that affect their lives.
To grow healthy sales for home health products, start by discovering the potential of infomercials and DRTV.
Dan Zifkin is president of Zephyr Media Group, which produces and places direct response advertising. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847)328-1519. Zephyr Media Group has offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago (Evanston); Portland, OR; Phoeniz, AZ; and Long Beach, CA.