By Sara Williams
“You can have the greatest product, service or idea in the world. But, if you don’t get it in front of the right people at the right time, you have nothing.” – Bob Circosta
When you think about TV shopping, names like OxyCleanTM, Chia Pet TM, PedEgg TM and SnuggieTM might come to mind. And while all of these products, all inventions of the last 50 years, seem to be as different as night and day, they do all have one very important commonality: all of these products were introduced to the consumer using direct response television, or DRTV.
So what exactly is DRTV? It is simply television advertising that directs the consumer to react immediately to purchase a product or service, usually by phone or through a webpage. In other words, it’s the infomercials and home shopping channels you see on TV every day. And while it may get irritating being interrupted in the middle of a favorite show, DRTV works.
I’m sure you remember the commercials for all the products I just mentioned. I mean who could forget the Cha-Cha-Cha ChiaTM jingle, or grass stain removal demonstration showing the power of OxyCleanTM, or all the testimonials of super- soft soles after watching countless people scrub their feet with the PedEggTM?
Because of the successful marketing to the masses via TV, each of these products has become a household name. You no longer have to order them over the phone or online after seeing a commercial. Jump in your car right now and drive to your local supercenter. You’ll see them lining the shelves.
Yes, the TV is a powerful medium. After all, there are 302 million household television sets in the U.S. and the average American spends approximately 5 hours a day watching one. In my house it seems there is always a television on in any given room, whether it’s being watched or not. I’m guilty of using the tube for background noise every day. So whether we’re conscious of it or not, we are constantly being inundated by information spewing from the television. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all Americans report regularly seeing infomercials, which is good for sales since, on average, viewers have to see an infomercial at least three times before the final purchase decision is made.
As an inventor you probably dream of one day seeing your product on TV, whether in spot ads (30-60 second commercials), in longer segments like an infomercial, or on a television shopping channel, such as HSN, QVC or Shop NBC.
You’ve seen proof with products such as the Snuggie TM and Chia Pet TM that your own idea can indeed one day be seen on TV. And if you market to the right masses, your product could be one of the more than 1,000 different products being sold to a reported one out of every four Americans through DRTV each year.
If these numbers aren’t enough to convince you of the effectiveness of DRTV, consider the following: In an average month, 300,000 infomercial spots appear on approximately 36 national cable stations and 1,800 broadcast stations, according to Elissa Myers, president of The Electronic Retailing Association (ERA). HSN alone delivers an assortment of exclusive products, broadcasting live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year, reaching approximately 96 million homes.
Today, home shopping is so popular that it has become a 12 billion dollar industry in the U.S. And because people keep tuning in to find and buy the latest and greatest products, product placement on home shopping channels has become extremely competitive.
After asking “TV’s Billion Dollar Man”, Bob Circosta, tips on how to get a new product on TV, I’ve learned that television shopping channels are looking for products that are currently manufactured and ready to go. An idea is one thing; a finished product, another. Your product has to be ready to be bought in order for it to sell.
Yes, the thought is daunting. But don’t for one second think the PedEggTM, SnuggieTM or Chia PetTM was anything but a dream.
You may be feeling overwhelmed, thinking there are a billion steps to take getting from A (conception) to Z (seeing your product sell). And, quite frankly, there are; being an inventor is no joke—something you know already. Each day you find a different set of obstacles to face head-on and overcome. I doubt there is an inventor out there who has never considered throwing in the towel. Despite upset after upset, successful inventors are those who maintain focus and never lose site of the finish line.
“I believe there is one driving force in making any dream come true—and that’s you,” says Circosta, who sees success stories of inventors every day. “Don’t accept what you have,” he advises, “expect what you want. All this expectation starts in the form of a dream.”
So just how do you keep your mind on the right path? Throughout Circosta’s experience, he has taken notice of three core focal points that thriving entrepreneurs share. He calls them the A-B-C’s of success: Attitide, Belief, and Commitment.
We’ve all heard before that attitude is everything. Well, it is. The world is full of Debbie Downers, people who try to discourage us by focusing on why our ideas won’t work. As an inventor, you need to learn to block out the negativity.
“Don’t ever let anyone else tell you what you cannot do,” says Circosta. “Once we have established our dream, we come to the realization that it takes an enormous amount of energy to make that dream come alive. If we are surrounded by people that are not helping us feed our dream, then these people become energy-drainers in our lives.”
So often an inventor will abandon an idea because of a minor hiccup, thinking, So-and-so was right. This was a bad idea. It might seem easier to give into the discouraging words than to persevere. Don’t get caught in this trap.
To maintain your positive attitude, Circosta suggests you focus on one big reason why your idea will work. Anytime you’re faced with opposition, you can think back on this reason while imagining the contributions you’ll be making to others’ lives once your idea becomes a working product.
One of my favorite quotes of all time was spoken by Sophia Loren. She said, “Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.”
You’re probably wondering, “Just what does this have to do with me, an inventor?”
Let’s take a moment to consider the idea from Circosta’s viewpoint. He says:
Belief in something means having confidence. Having confidence allows people to perceive you as genuine. Being genuine makes you credible. And credibility is everything to the success of a sale—whether it’s an idea or a product being sold.
Who would catch your eye on the street? A person walking tall, chin up? Or someone with slouched shoulders, staring at the ground? The bottom line is: if you don’t believe it yourself, no one else will.
This is not saying you have to exude arrogance. Always remember: you need to embrace resilience. If you accept that nothing is going to go exactly as planned, that there could be setbacks early on, you will be much better prepared to face any bump in the road—without a chance of bottoming out. If you continue to believe in yourself and your idea the horizon will seem a lot closer.
And, even though it may be hard to hear, if you don’t believe 100% that your product is feasible, perhaps it’s time to shift your focus to something new.
Commitment is all about having a never-say-die mindset. As previously mentioned, you will encounter roadblocks, but you have to commit to turning your dream into a reality no matter how difficult it gets. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, right?
In his training sessions held around the country, Circosta often asks his audience why the household cleaner “Formula 409” has that name. It’s because the first 408 formulas weren’t as effective.
You might not have to try 408 different times to get your product perfect, but chances are you won’t get it on the first try. Even knowing where to start can be a challenge. Before you dive head first into your idea, spend some time thinking about your goals, researching what you have to do to achieve these goals and then document all of the steps you’ll need to take to get there. For example, what kind of licensing do you want to obtain? When does this need to be done? What about prototyping? Do you need a prototype to get a trademark? Figure out the details then create a schedule for yourself.
“Without a well-documented course of action, inventors tend to lose sight of where they’re headed. They start to get overwhelmed about knowing what steps to take next,” says Rick Valderrama, Managing Partner of D&V Strategic Partners, a Tampa Bay-based firm specializing in assisting inventors get their products to market. “It’s always a good idea to take the time to make a detailed plan.”
I’m sure you’ll agree it’s much easier to follow through with a commitment if you have a plan.
So as you get your product ready for TV, always remember what Circosta says, “your will is more important than your skill.” And your attitude, belief and commitment are major players in your journey to success.
About Bob Circosta
Bob Circosta helped launch the TV home shopping industry and was the original host of TV home shopping. Throughout his career Circosta has sold over one billion dollars in merchandise through home shopping channels and infomercials seen around the world.