With the exception of a few products, effective demos are sorely lacking on TV Shopping. Most channels have a host and a guest acting as little more than “talking heads.” Even many cook products show finished dishes, made to look fresh with a spray of oil. Very little live cooking.
Throughout the 1990’s, QVC and HSN did some really effective product demos. I was able to create many of them. A few were a little “carny-like,” but nothing as misleading as the drain cleaning demos I have seen recently. Showing the simple chemical reaction of an acetone cleaner with styrofoam packing peanuts is not a credible demo…unless your drain is clogged with styrofoam packing peanuts.
Here are some examples of demos I developed over the years:
To show how light the Oreck Vacuum was, I learned how to toss it into the air and catch it on the bottom in my outstretched palm. I eventually learned how to do it with two Orecks. It really increased sales on QVC. So much so that they asked me to be their on-air representative when I left the Q. (Despite Oreck’s initial enthusiasm for the idea, it didn’t happen. Pretty sure QVC told them they didn’t want a former host to do it.)
The demo really increased sales on the product. We still did the usual cleaning that is featured in many vacuum demos, but the “tossing and catching” gave it a nice bit of additional action and excitement. I never dropped it.
When we sold thermal waterproof gloves, I came up with the idea of using a fish tank full of ice water and having the host place his or her hand in the freezing liquid while wearing the gloves. They also had the sensor for a digital thermometer in the glove to show that their hand remained at about 98.6 degrees. Of course, the body temperature played a big factor in that, but without the gloves, the hand temperature would have dropped a great deal. Again, sales really spiked when the viewers saw that the temperature inside the gloves was nearly normal. The host would also pull out their hand to show that it was completely dry.
I first came up with the idea of using a digital thermometer when a ceramic disc heater Today’s Special Value was not selling. I stopped at Radio Shack and bought one. I aimed it at the heater and the display quickly jumped to several hundred degrees. Of course, that temperature would rapidly disperse throughout the room as it warmed. Still, the sight of a digital display jumping from 70 degrees to 4 or 500 degrees in a matter of seconds really caught the viewers attention. We nearly sold it out in one presentation, more than ten times the units that had been previously sold during one show.
For cookware, I usually concentrated on how quickly you could prepare a meal, usually cooking 8-10 meals in an hour show. I would show how quickly you could clean the pans and move to the next meal. As I mentioned earlier, most cookware demos today feature finished dishes. More than once, some of our brighter hosts got food poisoning from tasting the food that had been sitting out for days. It’s amazing how good something looks after you spray it with oil. I often did that before going to a singles bar.
It used to bother QVC’s “official cook host” when I would outsell him, sometime 2 or 3 times in a non-dedicated show. I never rubbed it in, but I heard he complained. Once, he came to me and bragged how many cookware sets he sold. I smiled and told him that was great and proceeded to tell him we sold twice that number in half the time. Hey, I wasn’t going to say anything until he did.
My computer demos featured many colorful and moving displays. I also got permission from the new company (at that time) Google to show their search engine. I would ask a caller what their hobbies and interests were and then proceed to search for it on Google. There was a real sales spike when I would search for something like “coin collecting” and get hundreds of thousands of results in a second or two.
Today, that demo would be old hat. But there have to be a zillion effective new demos that a host could do that would be so much better than standing there and telling me that “$125 gets it home” on their time payment plan. Of course, the customer needs to make 5 more similar payments before they can “keep it home.” That kind of EZ Pay pandering is so misleading. Shame on all the channels for doing it. And I’ll bet it doesn’t help to sell anything. Great training the hosts are getting these days!?
It took me several hours each day for almost 2 weeks to plan the computer demo that sold $11,000,000 worth of a computer in an hour. I don’t expect anyone to do that much (although, why not?) but today’s hosts, with the right training could sell more and provide their customers with a better overall shopping experience for all the products they sell.
Right now, I’m going to stop writing and spray myself with oil. I’m getting ready for a big night on the town. I’m determined to look fresh!
© 2019 Steve Bryant – No portion of this or any blog can be reproduced or copied and posted on any online site or read aloud on any audio or video media without the express permission of the author.