Tip 2: Utilizing the “WOW” Factor
According to Colleen Szot, head of Colleen Szot--Wonderful Writer, LLC, Minneapolis, Minn., the most important aspect of a great script is the demonstration of the product, aka the "wow" factor. Of course, the advantage television has over most other media is that a marketer can show what their product does. "In the David Dikeman show, for instance, we show an out-of-control dog," says Szot. "Twenty minutes later, after just one lesson from Dikeman's Command Performance dog training tapes, we have an obedient, well-behaved dog."
Whether it's diet products, fitness machines or beauty products, all rely on the wow factor to get the phones to ring. Szot's mantra is: "Tell 'em, tell 'em, and sell 'em. "Tell the viewer what the product is; show them how it works; share success stories with them; and then get them to pick up that phone now," she advises. "You have to convince the viewer that this is the opportunity that can't wait."
"A good script is at the heart of every infomercial," says Los Angeles-based Onyx Productions' Joan Renfrow. "Good graphics and animation are also important. There's a huge difference between good and bad in this category. If you're going to do it, do it right because they're elements that are often very important to a show."
According to Szot, marketers and certain production companies value the writer and script much more than they have in the past. The shows where people say, "Let's wing it without a script," are becoming less frequent, although they still exist. "If you really think about it, the script is everything," she says. "It's the foundation for everything you do." That's not to say it's carved in stone, she adds. "I like to work with a hands-on producer/director. I value their input, and when we brainstorm, you can practically see the sparks fly! I don't write in a vacuum, and I don't care who has a good idea. If it's good and it works, let's use it."
Testimonials are an integral part of a successful script, according to Szot, who talks to all testimonials personally. "I've been doing it for so long that I now know how to ask the questions that get the response I want," she says. For John Polk's Secrets to Cash Flow Now show, for instance, a testimonial talks about what his life was like before he ordered the program. He was living with his family in a tent. He ordered Polk's program and paid for it with money he didn't have at the time but was able to cover later. Thirty days later, he was making money hand over fist. "He was so overwhelmed at his good fortune and what a difference the program had made for him that he started to cry on camera," explains Szot, who wrote the script. "Now, I can't script that sort of thing, but I can ask a question on set that will evoke that kind of response. That's what direct response can do. It's powerful."
"In terms of physical infomercial production, some of the biggest and most successful companies have found great success with just two people sitting at a table in front of a "limbo background," says Renfrow. With a good product and good people selling it, sometimes you don't need all the glitz and glamour."
"Do your homework because DRTV can be a confusing industry," adds Szot. "You may get a myriad of conflicting ideas, but go with your gut instinct and trust the ones who know what they're talking about and who have the success to back it up."