7 Things Infomercials Teach Us About Sales

1. The writing is the most powerful tool. “We worship at the altar of sales copywriting,” says infomercial pioneer Greg Renker. “The way we structure our writing—to build and create the fear of loss and scarcity—it’s a real science.”

2. Music is also powerful. And familiar music is even more effective. “We’re constantly maneuvering and switching how music fits into a production,” Renker says. “It can make an incredible difference in pacing.” Guthy-Renker productions typically open with slower-paced music but keep viewers interested with increasingly up-tempo tunes. Familiar hits that jibe with the content are key to consistent and emotional messaging. For example, products for aging skin get a boost from oldies like Rod Stewart’s Forever Young and Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time.

3. Promise a life-changer. “Whether you’re promising to change the way someone looks to make them happier or healthier, that is a very large promise, but it’s generally the kind of promise that gets someone’s attention,” says infomercial producer Lenny Lieberman.

4. It has to be legit. All Guthy-Renker testimonials are real. The before and after photos are not retouched. And Proactiv abides by its strict rule that its spokesmen and spokeswomen must have used the products before they sign on to represent them.

5. Reciprocity works. There is a reason so many infomercials harp on the bonus product or free shipping. “If I offer a free gift or two, subliminally you will feel you owe me in return,” Renker says.

6. The biggest star isn’t always the best spokesperson. Guthy-Renker invests millions of dollars researching the likability of its on-air advocates. “If we want them to hang out in your living room for 30 minutes, they’d better be darned likable,” Renker says. Intriguing does not equal likable. Case in point: Madonna consistently ranks high in many celebrity metrics but low in likability. One spectacular Guthy-Renker miscast: naming Morgan Fairchild as spokeswoman for an audiovisual parenting course called “How to Raise Drug-Free Kids.” At the time, Fairchild was seen as a childless sex goddess identified with her vampy role on Falcon Crest. “That was the dumbest choice,” Renker says.

7. Products benefit from the authority of an expert. A physician, scientist or pharmacist lends credence that celebrities lack. Renker points out that broadcast laws in Europe restrict anyone but physicians from wearing white lab coats on television because doing so is considered misleading.


Read more about Greg Renker and how he revolutionized the infomercial industry, only on SUCCESS.com.


Emma Johnson is a business journalist, gender-equality activist, and founder of the world's largest community of single moms, WealthySingleMommy.com. Emma and her best-selling book, The Kickass Single Mom, and her organization, Moms for Shared Parenting, have been featured in hundreds of national and international media outlets.

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