Infomercials have taken on numerous forms over the past three decades. This article explores which are used in various industries and what strategies are best for each product or service.
Short Form – Known as TV commercials or DRTV commercials, short form Infomercials are either :30 or :60 seconds in length and are typically designed to air on Local and Regional Cable Television.
Long-Form – Traditionally coined as Infomercials, these are 30 to 60 minute shows, that convey the value of a product through a variety of formats (see below).
Micro-Form – A newer, more flexible Infomercial length, that incorporates the elements of Direct Response in a 30 second-or-less format. Increasingly used in Online advertising.
Hosted Talk Show – in this Infomercial format, the production is designed as a talk show, resembling those on major national channels. This discussion format allows for professional hosts to present the features and benefits of the Infomercial product in a conversational manner, and offers the opportunity for a variety of personalized calls to action, that may reach different audience segments, based on the the personal characteristics of the host. This is often considered the most entertaining Infomercial format by viewers.
Product Demonstration – A product demonstration Infomercial focuses on the variety of uses that a product has. These work particularly well for multi-use appliances and home products. Each additional use for the product adds perceived value, and thus calls to action typically build throughout the show. A common format is one where a product representative shows a consumer how the product can work for them in many ways.
Telethon & Live Caller – Telethon Infomercials emphasize the principals of group buying psychology, by demonstrating to the viewer that others are calling in and purchasing a product or service. Often a time limit, or limitation on the number of available products is presented, and counted down to zero. These shows are typically taped, but can also be aired live during key marketing periods, including the November and December holiday buying season.
Testimonial-Centric – Infomercials that display numerous testimonials, usually paired with live product demonstrations are considered to be testimonial centric. This provides the viewer with experiences from the point of view of other product buyers, and can be a very powerful vehicle for conveying product value, and motivational drivers for response.
Documentary – this format of Infomercial is designed to resemble an hourly news show, presenting key headlines and facts that indicate a wide spread issue, or problem, and then use experts and professionals to describe a product or service that presents the solution. Unfortunately, this format can be so well disguised as an actual TV show, the call to acton, as well as important decision making information can be “lost in the show.”
Brand Equity – This Infomercial format emphasizes adding equity to the product or parent company’s brand. This is achieved by creating an attractive brand, and discussing the foundational strengths of the company and product that make it superior to others. In an increasingly crowded “me too” Infomercial market, Brand Equity focused shows are becoming synonymous with high performing Infomercials. Brand Equity is also an essential part of long term planning, for multiple distribution channels as well as continuity of purchases from existing customers.
Infomercial Product Categories
What makes a good Infomercial Product?
Product economics play a major role in assessing the viability of marketing through an Infomercial. The profit margin per unit must be high, but the product price must be low (between $20-50) so that it can be purchased by a wide range of people with different levels of disposable income. The product must also be readily demonstrable, and have multiple value points that can be displayed throughout the Infomercial. This drives the perception that the product has real value, and is worth much more than the price. This is heightened by dramatic before and after transformations that show how much better the product makes the life of the buyer. In general, products from the following categories best fit the requirements for a successful Infomercial: Diet & Nutrition, Exercise & Fitness, Financial Services, Beauty & Cosmetics, TV to Web.
For more information about how to make Infomercials work for your business, see: How to make Infomercials work for your business or contact us at (808) 909-6670