Thursday, May 14, 2009

#7 Your Product: The answers to blog #6

Just to review
So, this is a continuation of previous Blog #6. Below are the basic answers to the questions as to whether your product might work on TV.
FYI, I do product evaluations and am happy to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement with you, or your company, if necessary. Read on and enjoy.

Question #1

If it’s not easily demonstrated it’s probably not going to work on tv. Think of products like “The Pasta Maker” pot, with holes in the lid, or that spatula that grabs fried eggs, or the Dyson Vacuum, or Pro Active Acne product, or Oxi Clean (my personal fav). They're all extremely demonstrable products and perfect for a visual medium like tv. So demonstration is a key factor.

The very first infomercial I was hired to write was for the Black & Decker Handy Steamer. So, you tell me. “Does this qualify as a demonstrable product?” Not really, unless you really love the idea of watching food steam slowly, under a fogged-up clear cover. Horrible show, didn’t work at all, but I learned a lot. More on the “Handy Steamer” in “Stories from the Trenches”.

Ron Popiel and his rotisserie and his pasta maker are good demonstration products. Even better, Ron is a great pitchman, uses wildly cheering, live audiences and he shows a lot of finished products to overcome any weaknesses of the live part of the demonstration.

Question #2

By magic transformation think "before and after" shots; woman “before” shot at 200+ pounds and “after” shot where she’s lost 100 and now weighs 100 pounds.

Think of the knife demonstrators at the state fairs, the cheese graters, the slicers, reducing a carrot, a potato, an entire head of cabbage into cute spirals, julienne fries, or a mound of coleslaw with flick of the wrist. They are all magic transformations….and have made 100’s of millions of dollars, going all the way back to when Dr. Phinieas with his "snake oil" made little Billy walk again, right in front of his horse drawn wagon in Oklahoma 150 years ago.

Great examples of magic transformations are seen constantly in the Weight Loss, Exercise category of infomercial, loaded with Before and After shots (B&A's).

You see “Before” pics, usually stills, then we see the live “After” shots where Suzy Slimbody is spinning slowly on a turntable, in her size 2 pants, while holding up her size 112’s that she used to wear.

It’s a transformation and it looks amazing and we become more and more convinced by shot after shot of B&A’s until we’re convinced the Ab Schmoozer is going to make us into a new person for our 30th High School Reunion in 2 weeks, so we cough up the $300 buck + $89 for super rush delivery (BTW, rush delivery is a huge profit center in the infomercial biz…….) and somebody has made a bunch of money and in just about every case, you won't lose the weight.

Do most of the AB FLAB machines really work? Not usually and if they do, you've got to change your eating habits, usually drastically and workout at least 5 times a week.

When I did the second infomercial for the Fantom Vacuum which was the first version of today’s Dyson Vacuum, we went to some people’s homes, had a professional carpet cleaning company come and clean all the carpet in their home. Then we came in the next day and used the Fantom Vacuum and it really did kick butt. Picked up a ton of dirt, lint, hair, dog fur etc, which our field reporter dumped out of the clear, Fantom canister onto a plate, to the astonishment of everyone. It was a great transformation shot for a vacuum and one of the wonderful real "demos" that we created that won that program "Best Demonstration Infomercial" back in the 90's.

Remember this, if your product doesn’t really work, do not try to fleece anyone into thinking it does, or that it will do things it really can’t do. There's way too many of these kinds of programs and products around. Do yourself and your family proud. Only bring great products and ideas to market.

One of the things that I'm most proud of is the fact that I only will take on a great product. In the beginning, I was mostly lucky to find a succession of great ones. These days I'm extremely selective and it pays off, over and over. My shows work and I have a great reputation in this business, that I'm extremely proud of.

Question #3.

If it is, look elsewhere, find a new product.

Don't misunderstand me, there's always room for a new and better mousetrap, but for the most part, the better mousetrap won't do well as a TV product. TV products need to be new. Of course the new and improved rotisserie, vacuum cleaner and the latest weight loss craze are new and improved, but usually they're the first of their particular kind. In fact, many of the weight loss programs you see, are simply a new angle on the same old story, or product. If it's a good product and it's got a great new angle, it may be worth considering, if it meets all the other requirements.

Question #4

This is just as important as all the rest, because if there's not enough margin, enough mark-up between the cost of goods (COG) of the product and the retail price, you don't stand a chance.

For most people, this is an unknown answer, because you make your product one at a time, in the garage, and have no idea how much it will cost to make 1,000 or 10,000, or 100,000 of these suckers….heck, you get tired even thinking about it…

If you do know the markup, aim for a 10:1 ratio. In other words, you pay $1.00 for the product, which we’ll being calling “Cost of Goods, or COG” and you sell it for $10.

I realize this is a breathtaking markup. And it’s a tough one. There can be some leeway on this but as we go in this discussion you’ll see why we want to always shoot for a 10 to 1 ratio.

As always this is covered in very helpful detail in my book. In fact this is from part of Chapter 3.

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