Infomercials are a type of commercial, generally created for television. This sort of content had its start in the United States, where infomercials were transmitted from about 1am to 6am. The infomercial industry is big business, worth upwards of a staggering 200 billion USD per year. Let’s find out what infomercials are and how best to approach creating our own.
Infomercials: The Basics
Although the infomercial is in essence a commercial, it has some differences to normal commercials. The key element is that the infomercial resembles some sort of regular television program.
The essential elements of an infomercial include, in its simplest form: a telephone number to get in touch, sometimes a website, a host or hosts and a product. Many of them also use business phone providers so that people who are interested can get in touch with them in a more reliable and secure way.
Note that the name ‘infomercial’ can be applied to a host of content as well. There are creators who call their content infomercials, even though the specs of their work can be a bit different.
Direct Response Television
When infomercials appear as a form of direct response television (DRTV), they will generally be quite long. It’s quite typical for these sort of infomercials to be as long as a full program, spanning half an hour or even a full hour.
In these sorts of infomercials, the idea is to sell products or services, generally throughout the night. There are channels which air infomercials 24 hours a day as well.
Crafting Great Infomercials
Very well, we know the basics of this type of content. How do we craft the perfect infomercial?
Their very name implies that this sort of piece needs to be informative. In essence what we’re trying to shoot for is a piece of content which is both informative and retains the essential characteristics of a commercial.
Remember that such content revolves primarily around products we want to sell to the public. Obviously, this means that we want to show the product and inform the public at length about it.
The style of the infomercial is another important consideration. Usually, they tend to resemble a television program as such. This can mean several things. Some creators try to make them look and sound like talk shows. There are other infomercials which may use more traditional storytelling techniques.
Many infomercials are crafted around the personality of their host or hosts. This means that they’ll incorporate elements from several formats to tell a story about the product on offer, in their own way.
Call to Action
Infomercials live or die by the sales that they’re able to generate. At the end of the day it’s not really rating we’re interested in. What we’re trying to achieve is sales of the products on offer, and not quite (or not only) viewership.
The idea is quite simple. We want the people watching to buy products. Some of these products may be bought at a store. More often though, an infomercial tries to get people buying a product ‘not sold at stores’ and thus purchasing it via telephone. These sales are the quantifiable immediate direct response we’re looking for.
The product is evidently the center of an infomercial. There are many types of products but most usually center around things such as: cleaning, food preparation, diet/weight loss, exercise/fitness, beauty, cosmetics, among others.
Hosts in an infomercial are very important. There can be different types of hosts and styles of presenting. For one, it’s noteworthy to remember that during the 1990’s, the idea of using famous hosts came to the fore. Another related concept was building the infomercial around a particular host and their very particular and forceful personality.
Are Infomercials Outdated?
Now then, when we see some infomercials we have to concede that they can seem a little bit outdated.
For one, infomercials are instantly recognizable. They seem to have a similar style, and there’s perhaps not as much variation as one would want. In truth, some infomercials do seem to sag and even bore.
Note, however, that the intent behind infomercials is as useful as ever. The bottom line is that companies still need to get the word out on their products and generate sales. Infomercials are still useful in this regard. Cutting-edge companies such as Apple have used infomercials, for example.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of using an infomercial is the amount of detail and nuance they can carry. A regular commercial is very brief, trying to capture the attention of the viewer, but seldom informing an audience about all the details of a product.
Conversely, an infomercial can provide a wealth of information. Such nuance is the key to prompting a viewer to call and acquire the product.
Infomercials have some disadvantages. The main one is that the concept itself carries some negative associations with some people.
Indeed, many people associate infomercials with long and dry commercials, which are not entertaining. This is definitely something we need to take into account when crafting infomercials. There’s definitely a challenge to change the preconception that our audience may have about this particular type of content. In many ways, this implies a total redesign of the infomercial as a way of communicating and selling a product or service.
The Future of Infomercials
Although at first glance we could conclude that infomercials are an old-fashioned tool, there are some points to consider.
Note that there will always be a need to clearly communicate the features and details of a product. In fact, the more technologically advanced our product is, the greater the need to convey to an audience all its capabilities. The infomercial is still a phenomenal way to do this.
The infomercial will remain a viable marketing and advertising tool. What will most likely happen though, is that it will be used within other technologies instead of television. The typical infomercial, as we’ve been discussing, is featured on television and works as a basic informative commercial prompting people to call and buy something.
The infomercial will pivot towards appearing in places other than television. Think of Douyin (the Chinese Tiktok), which carries videos where users can watch a hotel and then book a room in that same hotel. The possibility of interactive informative commercials with all sorts of products and services is obviously very much within reach.
What about typical infomercial challenges and issues? Let’s take a look.
Script or No Script?
The first challenge to consider is whether we’ll need a script or not. If you carefully watch some typical infomercials, you’ll notice that there are sections which seem to be clearly scripted. These are usually sections that describe the features of the product in detail.
Regardless, you’ll see that there are also sections that seem to be more improvisational. This is particularly true if the host has a very colorful personality and the show is more or less built around them.
The best thing is to script the more detailed parts and to let the hosts improvise the conversational sections.
Infomercials may depend quite a bit on the type of presenter used. The best bet is to hire a professional who knows how to carry an infomercial. Once we’ve got a first rate presenter, we can be sure that our scripted content will be in good hands.
Most importantly, a good presenter can handle the improvisational nature of many infomercials, where there are unscripted sections which may require conversation between hosts or between a host and some users of the product.
The Issue of Sincerity
As we tried to explore throughout this article, infomercials have certain disadvantages. The issue of sincerity is certainly problematic in this type of content.
Many people feel that infomercials are too pushy in achieving sales. They also mention that this type of piece tends to over-hype certain products. Although the products themselves may be good or even excellent, the relentless pushiness to sell them makes it seem as if the company is trying too hard.
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to try a prudent approach. Being bold and creative in achieving a sale is fine, but be sure to exercise some caution. A prudent approach that is not extremely pushy and doesn’t come across as insincere is best.
Structure and Storytelling
A typical problem with infomercials is forgetting about story structure.
For one, they do need story structure from start to finish. As always, it’s important to revisit the fundamentals of story and three-act structure. At the end of the day, the principles of good writing will always help us craft content.
Apart from this, however, it’s vital to understand that the process of explaining a product and prompting a sale benefits from a tight structure too. Such a structure may follow a basic setup such as: (i) Explaining the problem which needs to be solved. This problem is usually recognizable by a large segment of people. (ii) Providing a possible solution, which would take too much time and effort. (iii) Providing the actual solution being offered, which is a clever pivot away from the difficulty of a typical solution. (iv) Revealing the unique offer that people may acquire.
The Bunny Studio Way
If you’re looking to create a great infomercial, talk to Bunny Studio. This online hub has a roster of talent in a larger number of areas.
What this means is that it’s uniquely suited to create infomercials from start to finish. Alternatively, many clients may want to create specific sections for these pieces of content, such as voice over material. Bunny Studio is perfectly suited to this task as well.
Infomercial Voice Over
Some clients crafting infomercials may choose to acquire voice over for this content. They may want a voice for a particular section. They may also choose to have a voice artist as the host, reading out a script prepared for such situation. Bunny Studio is extremely capable of providing you with the voice talent you want. Get in touch with us and let’s get going!