Written by Aiden Holczer
As-Seen-on-TV products. To many they are a cheap novelty that “nobody could possibly buy”, and yet it is a booming 400 billion dollar industry. I’m sure by now you have heard of at least a few of these “revolutionary new products”, from the infamous Flex Tape all the way to the Red Copper Pan. What makes us remember these products isn’t their ingenius engineering, but the over-the-topness of their accompanying ads. I mean c’mon, who DOESN’T want to watch Phil Swift saw that boat in half. Perhaps you are looking to get into marketing, and if so you’ve come to the right place, because today Professor Aiden Holczer of the Heritage School of Crap Products is going to give a step-by-step crash course into the inner workings of the legendary As-Seen-on-Tv advertisement.
Step 1: Find a Problem
Remember, this can’t just be any problem, it has to be a problem easily solvable by simply not being lazy. So, world hunger, rampant deforestation, the cure for cancer, etc are all off the table. Along with being easy to solve it must be easy to demonstrate, this will make sense later.
Step 2: Find a Solution
Once you have isolated your problem, the next step is to find your solution to such a momentous quandary. The most important part of the solution is that it has to require more effort to use than simply getting off the couch and solving the problem without the aid of your product.
Step 3: Build Your Product
the prospect of developing your product overseas in China or India—where it will be cheaper to produce—is tempting. It will help immensely in the long run, however, if you produce it in the good ol’ US of A. Slapping the “Made in America” sticker on any product, regardless of function, is scientifically proven to increase your chance of selling it by over 150%.
Step 4: Find a Middle-Aged Man
You finally have your revolutionary product and are ready to move on to the most exciting step of them all, the advertisement. And no good as-seen-on-TV ad would be complete without the middle-aged man. Not just any middle aged man though; it has to a man the audience is sure to have never heard of, a man that exudes confidence in droves, and a man with no qualms about making a fool out of themselves. Oops, I almost forgot the most important detail of them all: they must introduce themselves and your product with the following line: “Hi, I’m [insert name], and I’m here with the brand new [insert product]!” This is shaping up beautifully so far.
Step 5: Demonstrate the Problem
“Do you hate [super specific problem]?” Of course you do. If not, why else would possibly be watching? Your specific, easy-to-solve problem must be portrayed in a way that blows it largely out of proportion and into astronomical levels of stupid. For example, If your product is about a spice rack to put in a cabinet, show an 80-year-old woman reaching for cinnamon to add to her famous apple pie, then have all the spices fall on her with the force of a thousand suns, forcing her to get her fourth hip replacement.
Step 6: Demonstrate Your Products Capabilities
Perhaps the best part of any As-Seen-on-TV ad is the demonstration. It’s never good enough to show how your product is used 99% of the time. That would be boring. Instead of showing how your new cleaning tool can eliminate “minor spills” with ease, pour a mixture of cement, Gorilla Glue, honey, and your firstborn child on the floor, and show how your product ANNIHILATES this dastardly concoction in seconds! Instead of showing how your new pan can cook food more efficiently while producing less waste, you should first show a home cook preparing a meal straight out of a Fisher Price “Baby’s First Kitchen” with the competitor’s product. Then, contrast it immediately with a world famous, Michelin Star-awarded chef preparing a meal in less than thirty minutes that puts Gordon Ramsey to shame, all while using YOUR product.
Step 7: Set Your Price
I don’t know about you, but I can already taste the money. The question now is how much your product is going to cost. Remember, your audience can simply not comprehend any product whose price can’t be rounded to a multiple of five. $57.99? Off the table. $16.99? Are you crazy? $19.99 is my personal favorite price point, but if your product is expensive it must be divisible into multiple payments. For example, if your product is $79.99 you must state that it is available for “four easy payments of $19.99.”
Step 8: Two-for-one
What’s better than one overpriced piece of crap? Two oversized pieces of crap. Be sure to tell your audience that, if they “call now,” they will receive their second product “at no cost.” While the “two-for-one” is the most famous of the as-seen-on-TV gimmicks, it would be cruel to ignore its cousin: “Buy your first one now and get your second one at half the price!” Because we all know the only thing better than money is more money.
Step 9: “Call or text to…”
We are almost at the end of our long and storied journey, and it is time for your enthralled viewer to finally purchase your product. While having massive brick-and-mortar stores like Target or Walmart carry your product is great, it pales in comparison to having your soon-to-be customers pick up their phone and call 1800-[random numbers]-[catchy 4 digit numerical arrangement] or text “BUY” to 1800-[insert product here]-[catchy 4 digit numerical arrangement]. Be sure to include a guarantee stating that “if you aren’t satisfied with [insert product here], send [insert product here] back, and we will deliver a new [insert product here] absolutely free of charge!” Because after all, when you are disappointed by something, the only reasonable course of action is to go back to it. Believe me, I’m well versed in this phenomenon: I’m a Cowboys fan.
Step 10: Retire or Expand
Our final step is most of the time the most difficult one to make. After becoming a millionaire overnight, you may be tempted to retire and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You may want to expand your product into a line of products, create the same product again but at a smaller scale and call it the “[insert product name] Mini,” or branch off into a category of products you are totally (not) educated in. Whatever your course of action is, I can only advise you to do what makes you happy …and make a crap-ton of money in the process.