The Birth of DRTV

A comparison of infomercials and DRTV Spots with all types of TV advertising from 30 years ago reveals what made direct response TV advertising feasible. Three services made available during the last decade made direct response television possible.

They are:

Toll Free 800 Numbers

The consumer is now able to respond or interact directly with the advertiser. The numbers are widely available, convenient, and most importantly, free to the consumer.

Proliferation of Credit Cards

Over 100 million credit cares are in circulation in the U.S. alone. This tool enables a huge number of consumers to make purchases over the telephone.

Overnight Delivery

To get consumers to respond to your sales offer right away, make sure you give them the satisfaction of having you product right away. Remember, consumers are willing to pay a premium to get you product overnight. They want it now!!

Merchant Account

Service bureaus that handle order taking for you will almost certainly require you to have your own merchant account. Without a merchant account, you will not be able to accept credit card payments. Needless to say, this will seriously affect your overall sales figures.

If you do not have your own merchant account to process credit card orders, it is essential that you use a service bureaus or enter into a joint marketing venture with a company that is able to extend you this privilege.

Accepting Checks over the Phone

Don't limit your phone in sales to credit card holders. By expanding the way TV viewers can pay for their purchases, you increase you probability of making a sale (with the introduction of checks-by-ph9one, your potential market is likely to grow by another 30%). Check Verification makes you product available to millions of people who do not have a credit card but do have a checking account. Here are some practical reasons why you should consider accepting check orders over the phone:

IT COMMITS THE BUYER - The buyer doesn't have to write a check, write his name and address on a piece of paper, look for an envelope, get postage, and then mail the order. These steps can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. The longer it takes, the higher the odds your potential buyer will change his mind.

INSTANT GRATIFICATION - Your customer's order can be cleared and processed faster if he doesn't have to mail a check which you bank has to clear before the order is processed. With Check Verification, you get the money within 48 hours and you customer receives you product sooner.

COMPETITIVE RATES - If your ticket price is over $59.00, you unit cost to process a check order by phone will be almost the same as the commission the bank charges your merchant account. As this service become more readily available, and as merchant account become more difficult to acquire, accepting check orders over telephone is a feature DRTV marketers can no longer ignore.

Continuity Programs

Develop a product or service that will fit into your back-end marketing program. Remember, the easiest person to sell is one who has already purchased from you.

A continually program will product sales or products or services to customers who have just made a purchase through an infomercial. The best way to promote a continuity item is through a brochure or other sales literature inserted with the original order.

Developing a successful continuity program will only enhance you bottom line, particularly since your advertising message is usually delivered at not additional expense to you. Furthermore, your continuity item is being offered to satisfied customers, because your company made their TV buying pleasant and satisfying.

SEEK RELATED ITEMS - Continuity items should normally be related to the initial product. The consumer purchases your initial product to satisfy a specific need, so it stands to reason that auxiliary products catering to this same need stand a higher chance of success than totally unrelated products. For example: If an exercise machine is you main product in the infomercial, a monthly vitamin subscription plan can be an ideal continuity program of you.; It is related to the customer's original need (to be healthy and fit), and you can count on a hefty profit margin because you advertising costs for the vitamin subscription are minimal.

RELATIONSHIP MARKETING - Continuity may also be looked at as a means to establish a marketing relationship with your customers. Through profile response cars and other dynamic data, you can product a catalog that features several products that cater to the needs and wants defined by your customer base.

To continue with the example above, you can offer your customer (who originally purchased exercise equipment via your infomercial) a wide variety of products and services in a catalog - duffel bags, running shorts, portable CD players, you name it. As the cost of acquiring new customers increases, selling more to the same customers expands the potential for DRTV in almost any market.


When a product becomes an infomercial success story, vultures hover in a hurry, trying to duplicate your product and you marketing campaign. Such competitors are called knock-offs.

In more cases, knock-offs are cheaper versions - in both quality and price. However, one of the most brilliant knock-off DRTV campaigns we've seen broke all the files:

  1. The company introduced a product of a higher quality and at a higher price than the original.

  2. Both products came from the same company, so the company was actually competing against itself.

  3. The same celebrity hosted the infomercials for both products.

The product was Stair Climber Plus, an upscale version of its predecessor, Super Step. Both infomercials featured Bruce Jenner, clearly showing the manufacturer's intent to present competition that did not exist - in the process preempting any legitimate competition. Neither infomercial mentioned the other product, and for a while they were running at the same time.

What Does This Strategy Achieve?

Producing your own knock-offs, by competing against yourself, preempts competitors by giving them less room to maneuver. Instead of competing with just one other brand, they have to position their products somewhere between the two that are already in the market.

BROADER MARKET FOR YOU - There is nothing wrong with producing a cheaper or more expensive version of your own product. It expands the appeal to other market segments that may be outside the range of you original product.

GUARANTEED SUCCESS - If people bought you original product, your knock -off is likely to score the same success with its respective market segment.

CREATES A BANDWAGON EFFECT - When viewers see two stair-climbing exercise gadgets competing against each other, it creates more awareness of stair-climbing as a method of exercise. Furthermore, the competition creates the sense that the product is both a popular and effective way to exercise.

Related Articles

Ad Sheet & Printer Ripoff Report

If you've been in mail order for more than a month...chances are you've been ripped off by one or more ad sheet printers. This report won't make you a mail-order genius but might keep you from loosing your shirt prematurely.

Publishing Your Own Ad Sheet

When you have accumulated sufficient knowledge from preparing your own circulars and from co-publishing magazines and ad sheets of others, you may want to become a publisher.

How to Make Money with Circulars and Ad Sheets

Have you placed your display ad in a national magazine with over 20 million readers, then waited for the orders to pour in? But the days go by and there is little or no responses?

How and Where to Advertise

There have been entire volumes written on mail order selling. For printed information, the best way to learn HOW & WHERE to advertise is to go to your newsstand and check through all the magazines carrying large numbers of classified and space ads.

The Secrets of Million Dollar Sales Letters

Regardless of what you're trying to sell, you really can't sell it without "talking" with your prospective buyer. An in attempting to sell anything by mail, the sales letter you send out is when and how you talk to your prospect.

How to Get Free Printing

This method of getting free printing is currently being used by several different mail dealers. It works! Here's the plan: Run an ad similar to this in any mail order magazine:

Insider's Secrets to Obtaining Advertising...Absolutely Free

The opportunities for getting free advertising for your product or services are limited only by your own imagination and energies.

Facts & Figures About Magazine Ad Readership

Here are some interesting results of a study conducted on readerships of magazine ads. Most of the stats are from Starch INRA Hopper, Inc and other studies.

How to Turn Big Mails Into Profit-Making Ventures

What is a Big Mail? If you are a total beginner to the mail order world, you will have no idea what the term means. Before I knew better, I used to think a Big Mail was just a big envelope containing some type of free samples.

How to Put Together a Winning Direct Mail Package

Most business beginners think Direct Mail means purchasing a mailing list and mailing an advertising flyer to a bunch of folks they know absolutely nothing about. This IS NOT what Direct Mail marketing is.