Selling Inventions on TV
Selling through TV changed with the emergence of home shopping networks. Before, entrepreneurs would create an infomercial and sell directly to customers, which they still do, but now they also can place their product on television shopping networks. These networks require you to have certain inventory levels and then take anywhere from 45% to 60% of the retail price for their pay. They then handle shipping and taking orders. Selling through these networks is definitely putting a middle-man in the distribution, although they will greatly increase your sales if your product is right and you have a much lower risk since you don’t need to pay to create an infomercial and be ready to handle the phone calls to take orders. Many inventors use home shopping networks as their primary sales channel and have significant sales.
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TV also offers opportunities for a wide variety of products, much more so than many other distribution channels. The main attraction of selling through TV is you have a somewhat “captive” audience. Of course they can change the channel at any time, but they are much more likely to listen to your television pitch than to go to a retail store, pick up your product and carefully read the package. Because of this you can introduce products that consumers don’t know they need.
Selling a product consumers don’t know they need is nearly impossible in a retail setting. People are usually in a rush when they go shopping and rarely pick up products that they don’t know they need. But on television, you get a chance to first explain to people why they have a problem that needs solving (there are actually countless problems in our lives that we don’t realize need solving–we have simply gotten used to them or accepted the fact that “that is just how things are”) and then that your product solves that problem for them. TV is one of the only distribution channels that allows you to successfully market such a product.
Also, other distribution channels are often resistant to products way ahead of competition, only because it is not what consumers are used to and they might treat a radically new product with suspicion. Again, not so with TV, a brand new product is perfectly acceptable as well as products that aren’t so brand new, just with a different twist to them.
Products that sell especially well on television are products that have mass appeal and give great demonstrations. Demonstrations, and to a lesser degree before-and-after pictures, get people excited about products and make them believe that they really work and demonstrations of all types are easy to show on television.
Let’s look at an example of selling on TV:
Inventor Story: Maureen Kelly
Maureen Kelly was tired of buying cosmetics from the cosmetics counter. She liked how she looked at the store with the help of the make-up artist, but when she got home, she could never recreate the same look. She realized that the cosmetics industry was creating products for the experts that normal people like her didn’t know how to use. In 1999, she decided to solve this problem and create cosmetics that the everyday woman could use and look great.
She created an upscale cosmetics line called Tarte and in 2000 her products launched in up-scale Henri Bendel department stores. Since then her business has doubled every year and had grown into a strong, stable company until 2005 when she decided her company was strong enough to take a risk: she decided to appear on QVC.
QVC has scouts out searching the country for products that would be a good fit for its audience. They not only look at the product, but the story behind the product. A good story gets people interested in the product. Kelly has such a story; she launched her product out of a one bedroom apartment in New York. QVC first approached her a couple of years ago, but she didn’t feel like her company was ready. She wanted to keep her growth in control and she feared what would happen if she was successful on QVC. She also feared if she had an unsuccessful appearance she would be stuck with a large amount of inventory, which QVC requires before you present your product, that she wouldn’t be able to move.
QVC approached Kelly again two years later and she felt like her company was ready for the jump. QVC gives you all of the training you need (they offer a three day training class for new vendors) and does all it can to make your product successful on its program. When Kelly went on the air she sold nearly 1,800 units in less than nine minutes. She was so successful that she came back, and continued to be successful.
More than just the sales she made on QVC, she raised awareness about her product and increased sales in retail stores as well. Overall, her QVC appearances boosted sales by 33%.
Additionally, QVC receives a lot of customer comments, and even feds comments to the host while the show is live so the show can be adjusted accordingly. These customer comments, and other helpful comments from QVC itself, have helped Kelly better understand her target market and therefore create products that better meet consumer desires.
TV Can Be a Great Way to Launch a New Product
QVC can do much more than increase sales for existing companies — it can be a great place to launch a new product and some companies use it as their main sales channel. You will need to have a large amount of inventory, but if you are an underfinanced inventor and you get an order from QVC, you should be able to use that as leverage for finding partners or investors.
The TV shopping channels are always looking for the next hot product and if they like your product, they will give it a try, even without having previous sales history.
How to submit a product to QVC:
QVC is always looking for new products and they frequently travel around the country looking for products. QVC makes easy for inventors, even ones that can’t go to one of their product reviews to submit products. Go to this website for more information on getting your product on QVC:
How to submit a product to the HSN:
Go to this website for more information on selling your product on the HSN: http://www.hsn.com/become-an-hsn-partner_at-4682_xa.aspx?nolnav=1
Is your inventory of your product too low to sell to QVC, HSN or other major retailers? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a short product description, and your web page address, if you have one, and let us see if we can help you.
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