This is a question I am asked by more people than I can count. It also would consume a ton of blog entries, so I am going to break it up over the next few days in several entries. The current hit reality TV show Shark Tank is a testament to this question. Thousands of inventors want the shot to get their product on TV. It is up to the judges to determine which ones are right for it and which ones are not. I have uncommon knowledge when it comes to this. I understand the process, what makes a product attractive to the TV viewer and which ones are destined to fail. Although this topic alone could be an entire book, I will do my best to provide a brief synopsis of what makes a product viable for DRTV (direct response television). If a product fails to sell decently on TV, there can be a multitude of reasons why. There could be a big game or breaking news pulling people to a different channel at the time the product airs. It could be a holiday when everyone is out watching fireworks. The upper administration could have decided to cut or change their coverage area and no one down on the studio floor knows any better. The presenter could be the wrong one to resonate with the viewer on that product. The demonstrations could have failed to engage. The host could be poor at executing good “Call To Actions.” The product could not have good support video, testimonials, before/afters, etc… The airtime could have been too short or too long. The product could be older technology. It could be on air to often, causing people to tire of seeing it. It could be the wrong season to air such a product. There are an almost indefinite number of factors to consider and it can be dizzying. This is why the merchandising departments for retail networks must be very discriminatory and plan carefully. They juggle all these reasons in their heads and attempt to make the best decisions when purchasing and planning products for air. However, there are some consistent factors that are non-negotiable when considering products for any kind of DRTV. At least one of these factors must be present for a product to be viable. If two of them are present, you could have a winner on your hands! When a television retail viewer clicks the TV on and begins watching they are expecting to find something they cannot at their local store. They are expecting any of the following 4 things alone or in combination with each other: 1) Uncommon value 2) Uncommon functionality 3) Uncommon craftsmanship 4) Uncommon pricing or offer structure Actually, the word “uncommon” might not be strong enough. Let’s call it “surprising.” It is never good enough to be just marginal with any of these characteristics. You must grab the viewer and you do not do that by giving them something slightly better than they can find elsewhere. You do that by being surprising! If your viewer can drive down to their local mart store and find a similar product of similar quality for a similar price, you cannot compete on TV. If they can have it in their hand that day without waiting a week for the mail or paying the cost of shipping, you will struggle and only sell to those few who are either ignorant, home-bound or simply don’t care about money…a very small market indeed. So, the first thing you need to ask yourself is: “How is my product special?” Once you have answered that, you can look at each of the 4 characteristics above. I will look at each of them individually in my next few posts.
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