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.