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An informercial is a marketing format where the product features are dramatically demonstrated, with sharp comparisons to competitor products. To top things off the format suggests adding a hint of urgency.
The basic goal is to take the shopper from awareness, to interest, to desire, to purchase in the first visit itself.
It’s like a guy looking to hook up at the club. It works but not for everyone.
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Infomercial Versus Brand Marketing
This article started by defining an infomercial; let’s now shift the focus to brand marketing.
Brand marketing is the opposite of infomercial format. With brand marketing, the brand is basically saying, “we’re confident we’re a great solution but we will not grovel.”
It’s a much more subtle (non-aggressive) form of marketing.
With brand marketing, the underlying thinking is “if we’re really good the buyer will find us eventually, let’s just send gentle reminders until then.”
Case Against Infomercials
There are many bad infomercials— from those pushy local car dealer TV spots to the shady health supplement advertised as a YouTube pre-roll.
It’s for this reason that most brands would much rather invest in brand marketing. Their skin crawls at the thought of being seen as an infomercial-type product.
None of this would matter but for the fact that it greatly complicates my life as a conversion optimizer.
Clients hire us to optimize their conversion rates. This means we need to construct a compelling pitch for the shopper, which means we have to discuss key features and the specific ways we differ from the competition.
Infomercial Lacks Innovation
The infomercial format developed nearly 40 years ago. For their time they were a radically different idea and something totally new to consumers, which is why they became popular. But I haven’t seen much innovation in the infomercial space.
Home Shopping Network has certainly improved the infomercial format, but not by a lot:
Consumers have gotten sophisticated with time. The infomercial format that may have worked on someone seeing it for the first time no longer has that sway on the buyer.
In marketing, we need to live by this rule— when they zig, you zag.
The infomercial format hasn’t done much zagging in the last 40 years. And that’s a problem.
So I can see why my clients hesitate with the idea of a marketing strategy that’s based on the infomercial format.
Brand Advertising Is Broken Too
The trouble for the conversion optimizer is that brand marketing is not a viable path either. Brand marketing is too fluffy. The consumer doesn’t give a damn about the brand’s lofty goals and dreams— the consumer simply wants to know if the product being pitched can get the job done and is great value for money. Value for money is a subject brand marketing doesn’t want to talk about. The idea is that the brand is so great that the question shouldn’t even come up, but it does, it always does. We have a whole strategy around communicating brand value– we call it Price Justification.
Middle Ground Between Infomercial and Brand Marketing
Like with everything in life the truth is somewhere in the middle. If the goal is to maximize conversion rates the marketer needs to both decisively demonstrate expertise while doing it in a way that isn’t too much in the buyer’s face. As we’ve seen, most consumers don’t like the hard selling.
A Good Example
I really love how Dyson walks the narrow line between infomercial style pitching and pure brand marketing.
Have a look at this commercial:
Even on these product pages (Dyson Outsize Absolute), they indulge in both brand marketing with beautiful, rich photography:
While also powerfully demonstrating the technical details of their vacuum cleaner, as an infomercial would:
Dyson Is the Perfect Conversion Optimization Template
I study eCommerce sites for a living and I can tell you there is no finer example than Dyson of a brand that perfectly balances the Infomercial versus brand marketing tightrope.
The concept of infomercial style pitch for traditional brands is a relatively new idea, which is why you need to jump on it.
The good news is that multi Billion dollar brands like P&G are also getting into it (link.)
Ok, now that we’ve been able to bring you to the dark side and convince you to give the infomercial format a spin let’s address the next question in your head. Why is the long-form sales pitch being shown as a lightbox popup? Why isn’t it just being shown on the main page? That’s explained here.