Tag Archives: andrew-warner

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.

The Entrepreneur’s Ignored Demographic

Andrew Warner of Mix­ergy recently inter­viewed Alex Algard: the entre­pren­eur who foun­ded the $57m a year (rev­en­ue) busi­ness White­Pages.

One exchange in the inter­view I par­tic­u­larly enjoyed is when Warner pon­ders White­Pages’ tar­get demo­graph­ic. Real­ising that he, his col­leagues and his friends don’t use the site, don’t talk about the site or even hear about the site he asks who are the people that bring in this rev­en­ue: who are the users?

Algard’s answer touches on some­thing I dis­cussed with a friend recently: that many (most?) entre­pren­eurs and soft­ware developers pro­duce products and sys­tems tar­geted at people like them: com­puter-lit­er­ate, pro­gress­ive power users. The huge mar­ket of barely-com­puter lit­er­ate cas­u­al users who are enthu­si­ast­ic about the Inter­net (yet need help for basic tasks) is largely ignored.

Andrew Warner: Well tell me about it, because you know that all I hear about every­day is Twit­ter and Face­book and some of the hot­ter sites, some of the sex­i­er sites. I don’t hear people talk about White­Pages. I don’t remem­ber when I went on White­Pages, or referred White­Pages to some­body else, but obvi­ously a lot of people are on the site. What am I miss­ing here?

Alex Algard: For one thing I think we do a good job in cater­ing to what the typ­ic­al Amer­ic­an needs, as far as con­tent inform­a­tion goes. A lot of our friends, I think, tend to be a little bit more focused on, you know, what’s hot in the Bay area and so forth. So I think it’s very import­ant that we, every once in awhile, pinch ourselves and remind ourselves that not every­one in the world, or in the US, is neces­sar­ily liv­ing on Twit­ter, or quite yet on the social net­work. Cer­tainly that’s the way things are mov­ing, but I think we’re doing a good job on address­ing Amer­ic­ans’ needs as of the here and now. Like I said, I’m a here and now kind of guy. I think that’s also how our com­pany thinks.

When asked if any­thing in par­tic­u­lar sticks out that helped him sep­ar­ate him­self from the com­pet­i­tion, Alex replied:

I think in ret­ro­spect, it was just being really, really focused around what users are look­ing for; provid­ing a rel­ev­ant ser­vice; really try­ing to put myself in the users’ shoes. In the White­Pages scen­ario it’s find­ing con­tact inform­a­tion, so doing a bet­ter job than any­body else: being sin­gu­larly-focused on help­ing our users find the con­tact inform­a­tion that they’re look­ing for. That more than any­thing has helped our suc­cess.