Persuasive Infomercial Sales Techniques

I don’t take infomercials very seriously, mainly due to how hilarious and absurd they are. However I’ve now been won over and can see their potential for certain product–market combinations. How did this miraculous change come about? Through a surprisingly enjoyable interview between Andrew Warner and the master of the infomercial, Tim Hawthorne.

From his many years of experience (he created the fourth ever infomercial, developing over 300 since then; has worked with some well-respected companies such as Apple, Nikon, 3M and Braun; and is responsible for about a billion dollars in client sales), Hawthorne talks extensively and insightfuly on the many infomercial sales techniques that his data show are the most persuasive. Two items that I particularly liked:

The most persuasive deal types:

Buy one get one free, or get the second one at half price. So you’re getting an immediate discount. Buy one and get a second one super size, so you’re actually doubling or tripling the order. Buy one and the second is actually going to be double the size. Drop a payment. Let’s say that your offer is three payments of $19.95, that’s your initial offer. But wait, if you call now, if you order now, we’ll actually make one payment for you. So it’s only two payments of $19.95. So that’s drop a payment. […]

I think one of the most powerful bonuses or premiums that you can offer is free shipping. A lot of people don’t understand the power of this. For some reason, if I’m going to pay $99.95 and there’s an additional $9.95 or $14.95 or $19.95 for shipping, that additional amount which is very important to many vendors, if you can sacrifice that, it has an amazing impact on people.

Words and phrases that trigger action:

“Free” is still, I think, and will always be considered the most powerful word in selling. After that we would probably think of words such as now, you or your, easy, easily, guarantee, break-through, revolutionary, fast, quick, instant, magic, new, special, exclusive, limited time, risk free, only, save, money back, money back guarantee, call now, and in terms of a classic phrase, “but wait, there’s more”.

Everybody kinds of kicks around that particular phrase and it’s used often. One of the reasons it’s used so often is that it’s so effective.