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.