Not long ago, I had no idea what Pilates was. But after about 15 minutes of a late-night infomercial, it was clear — our family had to have a Pilates machine. Not only did I learn what Pilates is, but I learned why there is no better form of exercise for someone like me. Stretching, combined with strength training and cardio — all delivered through a scientifically designed system to train the whole body with low-impact, calorie-burning exercise. Just a half-hour a day and three easy payments and my life would change.
You know how the story ends. We used it a few times, and now it is in a closet somewhere. All of us have seen these marvels of marketing — but in the boardrooms of corporate branding, direct marketing is often seen as low-class swindlers’ work, and infomercials are at the bottom of that barrel. But like it or not, that tune is changing. Marketing today is very measurable, and the demand for provable ROI and higher forms of measurement is challenging many conventions. Additionally, digital marketing has unleashed content — and it allows for deeper, more targeted, more relevant messaging.
Infomercials are the pioneers of content marketing. They work because they educate and entertain — and they can be brilliant. They show you something you have never seen before and take you on a step-by-step journey that goes something like this:
What it is > why it is important > how it works > why it works > how you get it > why you must get it now.
Generally, they all lead to the one conclusion—you need two of them, and this offer is too good to last, so grab your phone and credit card. Awareness, engagement, consideration and conversion, all in one sitting. Pretty impressive.
While I am not suggesting B2B marketers start allocating budgets for infomercials, they can learn much from this approach. No longer can we leave the selling to the sales team only. Our buyers are doing their research long before they talk to our salespeople. We need to take our best educational content and pair it with our best sales messaging — to craft compelling, educational narratives about our products and brands. This is the art of modern branding. There is no better way to build trust and confidence than to educate a buyer. Teach them about something they have never seen before and make them think differently.
Some B2B marketers reading this may think, “My product or service is much too complicated and my buyers are too sophisticated for a breezy infomercial format.” While all industries differ, the formula of education to action is possible by drilling down to what your audience ultimately wants and how your product will get them there. This is why skincare and fitness products do so well on infomercials. Everyone wants clearer skin and to be more in shape!
Another tactic infomercials typically employ is the use of a spokesperson. Does your product or service have someone who is dynamic, likeable and trustworthy to represent you? Finding a few people on your staff who do well in front of the camera can go a long way in establishing your brand as a helpful and approachable resource. Presentation coaching and media training for those people can help get them get comfortable and will also pay dividends when they present to staff or customers or at trade shows.
So the next time you see Chuck Norris or George Foreman at 2 a.m., watch a little more closely — there are lessons that you can apply to your own marketing. And who knows, you might just burn a few calories in the process.