This guest post is by Jill Chivers of www.shopyourwardrobe.com.
I found myself entranced recently by a “presentation” on a TV shopping network. I usually flip straight past these networks, as I was of the opinion that they were cheesy shows, presented by couldn’t-quite-make-it TV presenters, and that they pushed sub-par products onto poor, lonely, hapless, housebound consumers who didn’t know better. Not that I was judgmental about them in any way…
But this time I found myself stopping for a moment, just to see what they were about.
As the “presentation” (which is what they called it—at this stage, I was still thinking of it as a cheesy, garbage-pushing intrusion) unfolded, I found myself becoming fascinated by the sheer audacity of it.
These shows face an enormous sales challenge, the scale of which could appropriately be linked to climbing to Base Camp, possibly without an oxygen mask. While no-one could call their techniques sophisticated, they are effective. The home shopping industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and sales actually increased during the global financial crisis, when all other retailing was going down the toilet.
What can we learn from how the TV shopping networks sell their wares? Without becoming cheesy and surrendering all integrity, of course. Well, the short answer is: a great deal! Here are the top 10 tips that we can take away from those who sell from, and to, the couch.
The messages the TV shopping networks provide are repeated, over and over and over and over. They know that telling us once isn’t going to do it. Telling us twice is not enough either. We need to be told repeatedly about the product, the offer, the deal, the limited stock. They tell us—and they keep on telling us.
Ask yourself: How often are you sharing your message with your readers? We get bored with our own message long before our readers do. Don’t tell ‘em once, don’t even tell ’em just twice. Tell ’em over and over.
2. Funnel the info
Not only is the information repeated on these shows, but it’s funneled. They start off by overviewing the entire list of products and packages that are being presented. Then they go through each one in turn, detailing each product—what the product’s about, what’s in the deal, and what’s in it for us.
Ask yourself: Have you structured your information so it’s easy to digest? Have you overviewed your offering (helicopter view) first, and then dropped into the detail? Don’t expect us, your readers, to organize your information—lay it out for us.
3. Features and benefits
Aren’t you utterly tired of marketing gurus telling us not to share the features of our products and focus exclusively on benefits? I am!
The TV shopping networks prove how false a technique that really is. Features tell us the what, while benefits tell us the so what. Without the what the so what seems contrived, or made up. Features provide us with evidence—they’re the proof so many of us need. If all we hear is that the product is made from “all-natural products that smooths and brightens the skin with no harmful ingredients” we can find ourselves responding with, “Meh … aren’t they all saying that?” But when we hear the list of ingredients, or hear what’s not in the product, or hear any of the other details about the product, it provides us with proof.
Ask yourself: Are you explaining the what and the so what of what’s in your product or service? Are you making it easy for us to believe in your benefits by sharing at least something about the features?
The TV shopping network presentations show us the products in action. We see the Mink, marble-pressed mineral foundation with hydrating beads being dusted onto the model’s face—see how quick and easy it is to apply? We see the weight loss powder being mixed up with fresh fruit in the blender—see how “pantry friendly” the pack size is?
Ask yourself: Are you showing us how easy, quick, simple, effective, or whatever else your product or service is to use? What else can you do to put your product or service into action so your prospects get to see it in use before they buy?
The TV shopping networks not only demo their products so we can see them in real-time action. They also show us people who have been using the products for a long period of time (often years), and get them to tell us what a difference their products have made to their lives. This is different to the demo, which is in real time and could possibly be faked. Results from real people aren’t quite so easy to simulate.
Ask yourself: Are you showing us the results that people who use your product and service get? Your testimonials page is one of the best ways of doing this—but are you keeping the testimonials fresh and updated? Build your “mountain of testimonials” over time, and keep adding to them.
Throughout the presentation, the presenters gave us updates about how the product was selling. When a certain level of stock had been sold, we were updated that “this product has just gone limited,” signalling that only a few were left. This happened from minute one: the presenters signaled that the product was already selling. Combined with point 9 below, this creates a compelling case to pick up the phone.
Ask yourself: How fresh is your information about your products and services? Have you updated your product or service in some way, and forgotten to tell your readers and prospects about it? Have you sold a milestone number, such as 100, or 1000 products? Has your list reached a milestone number of subscribers? Share what’s newsy and make your prospects and readers feel part of the action!
7. Packaging and bonuses
These home shopping shows rarely showcase single products for sale. Even big-ticket items are bundled up with bonus products to sweeten the deal. Instead of a single bronzer being sold, they sell us the Forever Flawless package with 3in1 skin perfector and auto lip-liner in a choice of three colours with the Diamonds Are Forever dusting powder—all packaged in a lined satin make-up bag for touch-ups on the go!
Ask yourself: How can you add bonuses to what you already offer? Or how can you make clearer to your prospects the bonuses you already offer? Tell us how much we’re saving or the value of our bonuses, so the final sale price makes us feel fortunate to have been so smart.
These shows offer discounted pricing (although verifying that is problematic, giving the urgent timeframes they place on the offers); they sweeten the deal by offering some form of discount off ordinary pricing, however small. They also step out what we’re getting (the value of our whole package, with bonuses), and tell us what we’re saving.
Ask yourself: How have you explained your pricing? Is it a flat-footed statement of plain fact, or have you made an effort to show us what a great deal we’re getting? Even if you do not have a limited pricing offer, how can you make it easy for us to see how fabulous your pricing really is? Do you throw in postage and handling? Is your pricing less than some other poorer-quality, higher-priced competitor? What’s special about your pricing? How else can you position your pricing so that we feel oh-so-smart for buying what you’re offering?
Through the use of updates, limited availability, and discounted pricing, a sense of great urgency is created on these shows. Viewers of the TV shopping networks are lead down a carefully constructed path that leads inexorably to action. Namely: picking up the phone and ordering at least one, if not more, products. Sure, they educate. Yes, they demonstrate. But ultimately, they’re here for one thing—to sell their product. They aren’t embarrassed about it, either. There is no coyness in their communications, no hesitation in their message.
Ask yourself: Why would a prospect buy your product today? What have you done to make it easy for them to feel good about making a Right Now purchase, rather than making it easy for them to delay the buy? If you can only create a false sense of urgency (and that makes you feel sleazy), what else can you do encourage action now?
10. Recaps and the late up-sell
It’s never really finished with the TV shopping networks. The sell, that is. After the presentation ends, there are other messages (commercials on a home shopping network seem like the ultimate act of a snake eating its own tail, and yet they have them!). But they always come back for one more up-sell. Often it’s positioned as a Buyers’ Choice segment—a short segment that highlights one of the packaged up bumper-bonus deals that we’d be mad to miss!
Ask yourself: Where is there an opportunity for you to do a late up-sell in the education and sales process you offer? Where can you offer a “wait—there’s more!” opportunity that truly adds value and book-ends the sales message you are delivering?
TV tactics on your blog?
You may not wish, or even need, to use all of these strategies. The TV and home shopping networks are a particular breed that not all of us wish to emulate in full—their sales approaches are more sledgehammer than fine scalpel, for one thing. But they can teach us a lot about selling: how to position our products, how to present them, how to craft our communications, and how to make the sale. After all, that’s what they’re in business to do—make the sale.
Perhaps you aren’t using the right-kind-for-you aspects of these techniques as conscious convincers for your prospects. Perhaps all you need to offer is one more thing in one more way—a tweak rather than an overhaul—to increase your conversion rates.
Ask yourself: What more can I be doing to make this sale easy for my prospects? That’s what the TV shopping networks do.
Jill Chivers used to love shopping. After completing her own “year without clothes shopping challenge” in 2010, she created an award-winning website and international business that helps other women create a healthier relationship to shopping. Check it out here: www.shopyourwardrobe.com.
Thank you Jill for sharing this valuable information, I will definitely study closely the new TV shopping networks in Kenya and across Africa :-)
Anthony – glad you found it a useful read… I’ve been to only one African country (South Africa) and admit I didn’t watch that much TV while I was there… home shopping networks sure are pervasive – wasn’t even aware they were in African nations!
Where did you residue in South Africa?
Btw: Thank you for releasing this informative article.
Jill these all are great tips … we just need to figure out how and how much we are going to use in our blog.
Just a small amount or correct percentage with trial and run method can be really beneficial.
Thanks again Jill … for your awesome and in depth study of TV Shopping.
Great post Jill , thanks for sharing
hi Fisayo – thanks for reading and stopping by the comments… glad it was worth reading.
This has to be one of the best posts I have read here. Since I launched my first product the other day, although a short book, I can see how I can promote it better and show off its benefits. Thanks, this came in the right moment for me :)
Brankica – appreciate that! Sure was an enjoyable post to write, so I’m glad it was super useful to read, too. Nothing like finding the right input at the right time and all the best with your launch!
Nice tips for those trying to sell something from their blog, whether it is an affiliate product or their own. It can even apply to other calls to action, such as repeating your subscription options in your sidebar, at the end of your posts, and so on.
Kristi – exactly! It’s not just about selling a product (yours or someone else’s). It may be about selling an idea (which great posts do), or increasing your subscribers, or some other target you’re aiming for. We’re always closer to our own message than our readers are.
Yes these tips can be applicable for anything provided you use in your stream according to the requirements.
People who read your blog can be more smart than people who just seat in front of TV.
So be careful for that :)
This is a great post and I will certainly be applying this to help me with future posts. Whilst as yet I am selling more of a message rather than a product as such, there is much to be gained from this perspective. I particularly like the ideas laid out in the first 3 points. It is good to be reminded that whilst sometimes you think you may be repeating the message it is probably because you have it so entrenched in your own head and rather the different contexts and presentations of the message are what help to get the point across! The attention to detail, the funnelling of the information and the focus on the features and benefits certainly make for a compelling argument.
hi Martine, glad this was ueful to you – and yes, all these ideas can be applied to the ‘selling’ or positioning of a message rather than a product. When I worked in “big corporate” we used to say that if you haven’t said it 6 times, assume no-one has heard it… that may not be strictly true, but repetition of message is important – and is effective. All the best with getting your message out there!
This is a good reminder for how to sell our products and business to others. We often become jaded with creating our products that we sometimes get “foggy-minded” on how to sell them.
Justin, I agree – we are often so close to our own message and offering that we forget what it’s like “on the other side” – on the receiving side of our message. When we put our reader/customer ‘front and centre’, it can be a shift in focus that sharpens our message and directs our attention to the important stuff. Thanks for your comment!
Good strategy on selling our own products. But i need to find a good material for my niche
You have given a very effective way to sell product online.
Excellent article Jill. You really did pay attention to that TV sales pitch. One thing I can add to the discussion is to watch how the TV presenters “build value.” They state what price it would cost to replace the new gadget or to buy all of the accessories you may or may not want, but their stated value builds and builds until the deal is too hard to pass up. Then they offer two for the price of one and you’re hooked!
This is a good method to use to promote your brand, product, e-book, blog or program. The more value you can build the more likely your customer will not waiver to pay to you the asking price.
Thanks for your spirited post!
Timothy – ah, yes – they do that, too! Building value is a great addition to the things we can learn from TV shopping networks. Thanks for your comment.
Darren my friend … I think you should optimise your blog for the mobile as well.
or if you have done and if there is other URL than please let us know …
Hi Jill, props for your article :) The point about Features and benefits gave me an eye-opening flashback . I was working as SEO copywriter (my very first humble beginnings) and I had to write about products I hadn’t even seen IRL and whose features I vaguely knew (some were still in development). I had read and I was told to focus on the benefits, only. NO Features. However, this lack of info made my writing process difficult. It felt like walking down a hill with an eye closed. Clients are tired of the drums and whistles, they are getting smarter thanks to info (the good one) they can search for on the Internet, so you really need to present convincing arguments to your sales speech/copy in order to close the deal. Greetings!
Charlotte – thanks for your comment. I can relate to what you say about having one eye closed when you were instructed to write solely about benefits, and not features. Better to have two eyes open, right?!
This is a great outlook on a marketing strategy that can very well be adapted for marketing products on our blogs. What I take from the home shopping network is that they are creating an experience for the viewer. They attempt to engage the senses through demonstration, touching the product, using it, etc. We have to create a similar experience when we sell products on our own blogs.
Jacob – YES… they are creating an experience for us, engaging us on all levels. Something that many of us don’t think about consistently with our own blogs… Thanks for your comment.
Great tips. Nice way of writing. If I use all of these strategies I can be success. thanks for listing those in here Jill. anyway great post.!
Thanks for your comment – glad you enjoyed the post!
I hate to admit that one of my favorite past-times, recently, has been to thoroughly study the strategies and tactics put forth in these infomercials. While I will rarely purchase, it’s no surprise to me that this is a multi-billion dollar industry. Combined with the right marketing personality who is trusted (think, Billy Mays), these tactics are, indeed, highly effective. Thank you for the outstanding post!
hey Howie – yes indeed! It was amazing to me when I did some research for this post that sales on home shopping networks INCREASED during the global financial crisis, when every other retail sector went down. Love it or loathe it – these networks are doing something to attract, and keep, customers… thanks for your comment.
I think that the teachings/sugegstions you listed can well apply to any business, not only to web based marketing activities. My “day job” is at a service engineering company, and so often we focus on the characteristics of our products and don’t know how to communicate the features and benefits, provide demonstrations, show results, etc. It’s all about communication.
Thanks for the effective list!
hi Stefano – I agree, we can learn a lot from TV shopping networks and apply them to ANY business, including storefronts and services businesses. Glad you found the list helpful!
Fantastic post – Happy that you shared this with us. TV Shopping is a massive industry and while I have watched a few it appears that they ‘are talking to you – individually’ making it that little more special.
hi there – well, TV shopping networks are doing something “right” aren’t they? As much as our conscious brain might tell us one thing, enough of us are picking up the phone and buying things to keep them in business! Thanks for your comment.
What a timely post! Just a couple of months ago I was flipping through channels and came across one of these shopping channels. I was intrigued and watched the presentation for a couple of minutes. Before that day I had never watched one of these home shopping channels. I kid you not, just five minutes into the presentation I was walking over to my purse to grab my credit card. These channels can be so persuasive!
Right then and there I promised myself that once I finally got my blog up and running that I would model my product reviews after the home shopping channel presentations!
Latoya – yes, there is something very persuasive about how the home shopping networks present their wares… they know a lot about human psychology, and even if we don’t agree with all the tactics, we can take away some that are applicable with integrity… all the best with your blog!
Jill you know what you are talking about!
Wow! I have never thought how TV shopping networks can be a source of ideas to improve marketing a blog. Thanks for sharing your analysis. I will make use of this as a guide to make my own blog better. Thanks!
Joel – I hadn’t thought of it either, until I sat, transfixed, to a program on the TV shopping network a few weeks ago… Glad you found it a useful post!
This is great. I am actually implementing ads on my sites starting next month and I will use this information to when doing so.
great Marcie – glad this was so useful and so timely for you!
Best TV shopping show I ever watched was the Southern gentleman selling 100 assorted high quality pocket knives for 40 bucks. It was so funny. No, I did not buy them. But what a great deal. lol
Pam – you didn’t buy them??! Yes, every deal is not for every person, for sure – another lesson we can apply… Some of us can take it personally when our offers are not taken up by practically every person who comes across our blog.. It’s helpful to remember that our offer can be the equivalent of those 100 assorted high quality pocket knives for $40 to some people – it’s simply not for them. thanks for your comment!
#3 is so true. I was in face-to-face sales for a number of years and we always stressed FAB, Features, Advantages, Benefits… it’s like a trail that leads from a physical (i.e. believable) THING you can show the customer… the feature… all the way to the ideal, vision of what could be and how it would feel… the benefit.
hi John, appreciate your comment… benefits are important sure – but they just don’t (can’t) tell the entire story. And it is a journey that we take our readers on, isn’t it…
This is a really insightful post — thanks so much for sharing. Definitely some items that can be easily incorporated into my marketing plans.
Kathy – glad you enjoyed the post!
As much as we all dislike them, we have to admit that we’ve been captured if not tempted at times.
Paulo – yes, we don’t always LIKE these techniques, but there’s no doubting how effective they are. For me, the thing is to take the strategies that are useful and adapt them to my own blog. thanks for your comment!
These all tips are simply great and they always this lkind of policy
Great article. Why try and re-invent the wheel when we have a proven system that already works?
I am always stuck somewhere in selling products. Thanks for the useful tips.
Lee – glad you found it useful!
Thanks for listing those in here Jill.very well done.
Great post! This really caught my eye as my life dream is to be a QVC host :-) Clever angle and great information.
Melissa, well a QVC host, they’re the best! Glad you enjoyed the post!
This is a really great and actionable post. It is interesting to see how market lessons can be transferable. As marketers we can always learn from every experience.
We put your posters up around town
David, glad you found it actionable – every one of those 10 ideas can be put in place (in one way or another), or just one or two… sometimes we don’t need to overhaul our blogs – just a tweak here or there can make the difference. Thanks for your comment!
Good information, a well defined marketing plan can do wonders.
i am quite new to blogging and i don’t understand how do you think should we approach this….. i mean do you think tweeting or sharing on various sites the same message over n over again will do ??? won’t it be considered spamming ???
It is great concept from this article, and I think I got more methods to increase my sellings ,make more details, and more attracked information.
ur so great!!
ur my insipration..
You have a very nice blog and very useful article..thanks for sharing!