After years of relentless media rate increases, the direct response industry is enjoying (indeed rejoicing in) the abundance of inexpensive airtime.¬† Lower rates translate to a lower cost per order and the greater possibility of a product succeeding in DRTV.
But while many marketers are prospering during this golden age of direct response, the cost of creating DRTV spots and infomercials has risen dramatically.¬† By working with a creative team with a winning record and following these 10 smart tips, a savvy marketer can realize tremendous cost savings.
1 Infomercial talent: Hire the best demonstrator/host you can afford.¬† An infomercial is only as good as the host.¬† An on-camera spokesperson who can sell with integrity is worth every penny.¬† Pay them fairly up front or negotiate a sales commission or rollout bonus, but always hire a seasoned pro.¬† Negotiate all rights to TV, packaging and home sopping appearances for local and international broadcast.¬† Negotiate prior to airing for future years of success.
2 Product offer: Shoot all possible product configuration.¬† Whether you are offering four widgets and two bonuses or six widgets and doubling the deal, plan to capture all configurations on days of the shoot.¬† Rather than waste valuable time arranging and re-arranging products, shoot all the products on a green screen and then you can ‚“cut them out” and reconfigure the offer in the edit suite.¬† This is invaluable when you are testing the viability or more than one offer and helps to avoid costly re-shooting.
3 Location: Don’t build an elaborate set or pay for an expensive studio.¬† Scout a large, tastefully decorated home with a mellow homeowner and pay a fraction of studio fees.
4 Crew: The biggest production costs are the crew and equipment.¬† Anyone straight out of film school can operate a camera, but good lighting is crucial to commercial production and can make or break a product’s success.¬† Poor audio or washed out video can seriously impact the credibility of a production and the belief in the quality of a product.¬† Lost credibility translates into lost sales.
5 Testimonial development/Sound bites: While testimonials are of secondary importance for a short-form spot, they are the lifeblood of the infomercial.¬† Clients should spend the time and effort developing testimonials in-house.¬† Only then should they hire the production team to make the final selections.¬† The interview process is a very labor-intensive expense that can be managed more efficiently by the client.
6 Travel expenses: If it’s necessary to travel to various locations, whenever possible utilize local crews rather than flying your crew to the location.¬† Use the same format (HD, SD, or Digibeta), but save the costs of hotel and airfare.¬† When using testimonials from around the country, fly them to you and shoot them all in two or three intense days at one location.
7 Catering: Skip the ‚“L.A.-style craft services” and feed the crew and clients good deli or top-shelf pizza.¬† (No Chinese food or your crew will go to sleep after lunch.)¬† But always feed the crew on time and treat everyone to an afternoon ‚“sweet treat” pick-me-up.¬† A well-fed crew works harder.
8 Audio/Music: Skip the ‚“original score” and use a needle drop.¬† Don’t get crazy-music is very subjective.¬† Just don’t let it be too noticeable.¬† The voiceover is a vitally important element.¬† Don’t skimp on experienced voiceover talent.¬† Do record additional offers or later ‚“tweaks.”
9 Editing: The magic of most DRTV productions is created in the edit suite.¬† The pacing, the angles, the sound mix, eye-catching graphics, the elegant touches‚Ä¶it all takes place here.
10 Creative: There’s no substitute for experience‚Äìif you don’t have any, hire the people who do and then work together to create a hard-working show that will bankroll the more expensive production you’ll work on next time.
Don’t get too creative on your first try.¬† Use the ‚“problem-solution” DRTV formula to see if your product is a home run, marginal or a dog.¬† If it’s a dog, walk away and don’t send good money after bad.¬† If it’s marginal, tweak it by testing price points and offers.¬† If it’s a home run, buy your producer a good bottle of Piper Heidsieck or (my favorite) Malbec wine and plan your rollout.
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