Tip 1: Eight Steps to Successful, Affordable Infomercial Production!

Response Magazine

  1. Find the right alliance:

    "If you're not familiar with DRTV, my best advice would be to align yourself with a production company that knows the business," says Colleen Szot, head of Wonderful Writer, LLC, Minneapolis. She suggests getting demo reels of the company's most recent successes (within the last six months) and asking for a creative treatment and budget. (Prepare to pay them for their idea, even if you don't use them somewhere between $500 and $1500.) And ask for references. "Then, trust in them," she says. "Let them do what they do best. Your success is their success, so chime in with your ideas, but let them be the experts."

  2. Or, put together your own "A" team:

    On the other hand, if you are DRTV-savvy, then put together a team and avoid the one-stop-shop that does everything. "Hire the best writer [and] a great production company with recent successes, and work out a deal with a good editor," Szot advises. "If you don't have to use a studio, don't. There are many professional model homes you can rent for a day or week for only a location cost, which is much less than renting a studio."

  3. Get references:

    Before signing on the dotted line, ask the production company for references from their last two infomercials and then check them out.

  4. Make sure you're ready:

    Too often, says Barbara Kerry of Script to Screen, Santa Ana, Calif., people come to her and want an infomercial completed within a three-month time-frame, but their product isn't even ready yet. "The costs of 'redoing' things are very high, so be committed on all fronts," says Kerry. "You have to be committed to promoting the product in the best possible way and also to following through on the back end."

  5. Get the components together:

    During production, look for alternatives to building big sets and find unique places to do testimonials, perhaps in places that don't cost a lot. "Find a good director, cameraman, good script and someone who can handle testimonials really well," says Joan Renfrow, president of Los Angeles-based Onyx Productions Inc.

  6. Find the right writer:

    According to Darrell Williams of The Tyee Group, Portland, Ore., a person who's written numerous infomercials may not be the best person to write yours. "They may have a style that is 'info-speak' and very traditional sales pattern that's been successful in the past, but may not be [right] for your product or brand. Experience alone isn't the determining factor, but you need a writer who understands what the end result needs to be."

  7. Use testimonials to the max:

    If you have to scrimp, says Szot, then do a show that's mostly head shots, like Bio Slim's infomercial. Or, choose one location and stay there, to avoid studio costs, and invest in good testimonials, even if you have to fly them in.

  8. Talk it through fully before production starts:

    "Make sure you're on the same page and going in the right direction," says Sam Rath, vice president of production for Tyee. "Production is not the time to be making adjustments. Allow sufficient time for the process to be completed." Marketers are typically willing to compromise in order to get the job done faster, he says, especially in the early stages of production.

Response Magazine, February, 1999