Not unlike America’s mass retailers, sales are down at all of the major television shopping channels. As an example QVC announced today that they will cut 700 jobs to reduce costs to offset slow sales.
Profits at the shopping channel giant fell 23% because of slowing sales. In addition, all of the networks are suffering from customers defaulting on their in house credit cards. This is not unlike the rest of the credit card industry. For shopping channels this problem is compounded by the fact that there is no cash customers.
How does this effect future shopping channel vendors and entrepreneurs? No matter how bad the economy gets shopping channels are always looking for new products. New, innovative, “never seen that before” products are their lifeblood.
You must make it an easy decision. Shopping channel executives are measured based on the their ability to pick winning products. It is a lot safer to say no then it yes to a new item. You have to make saying yes to your product an obvious answer.
You have one chance at a first impression. With the market as it is one shot is all you have. If your product is not prime time ready with all of the networks requirements met up front you will not get on. Chances are you will never get a chance to represent that product again.
If you do not have extensive experience working directly with shopping channels such as QVC, HSN or ShopNBC I highly recommend that you secure the services of an experienced agent.
An experienced agent can, first off, get you a meeting with the right buyer in days not months, but more importantly he or she will know the best way to position your product for success, meet the network requirements and over come any objections that the buyer may have well in advance.
The bottom line is that there is still great opportunity to prosper working with the shopping networks but little room for mistakes.
Welcome to the shopping channel blog of Western Creative. Just to get you acquainted with WCI we are a full service advertising agency that has a depth of experience in the shopping channel business.
As an agency we have been involved with this category of business for many years, representing many manufacturers, inventors and entrepreneurs. But we have also walked the walk so to speak; we have also sold millions of dollars of our own products to the shopping channels. In other words we have taken the big risks, sweated about the outcome and personally experienced all that can go right or wrong. So in other words, I know how you feel.
Our goal with this blog is to provide you with an on-going source of information about the entire industry, which includes QVC, HSN (Home Shopping Channel, Shop NBC and others. Through my experiences I have found that there is more misinformation and bad advice out there then good, accurate data. We hope to change this.
Not every product is right for the shopping channel environment, but if your item connects with viewers and you have the right systems and management in place QVC, HSN and Shop NBC can be a wonderful place to launch a product, expand your sales and to make money.
If getting your product on one of the shopping channels is your goal let give you your starting point. First visit the web site of each channel and learn what they offer and do they have anything like you are offering. If they do, understand and be ready to articulate why your product is different, better, and why their viewers will want it.
Next watch the channel that you have interest in. Become familiar with it. They are all different in their own way. The better you understand their unique voice the more prepared you will be to work with them.
We will be updating this frequently with information, advice and reports from the front lines working within the industry. If you are currently or have worked with any of the shopping channels we encourage you to send us your comments and experiences.
If you are working toward getting your product on to QVC, HSN or ShopNBC let me invite you to visit our web site at westerncreative.com. And of course, you can always call or email us directly for information or advice.
There’s no greater time than the 4th quarter for shopping networks. QVC and HSN are like your local adult contemporary radio stations. As soon as Nov. 1st hits, the Christmas play lists come out 24/7. Granted it’s too late to land your product on QVC for 4Q 2008, but it’s not too early to start thinking about 4Q 2009. Amid the global crisis were entrenched in it’s going to be a rough 2009 whether we begin to pull out of it soon or not. QVC is an anomaly since their viewership is so vast you don’t really have to worry about frequency like you do with regular media buying. Eight minutes on QVC is worth about the equivalent of 50 spots on any other network. The difference is their viewers are ready and willing to make an immediate purchase. Sure not every type of product will work on QVC, but as an advertising agency we’ll help you determine if your product or idea will be a good fit. The only advice we can give you at this point in time is get started. December 2009 may seem like a ways away, but getting the ball rolling early puts you in place before all of the other doddlers out there with a similar idea to yours. Setting up buyer meetings, getting product claims substantiated, and ensuring your inventory and packaging is all to code takes time. You don’t want to be rushing to get it all in place in October and risk the chance of missing your air date. We have the history and know how to get things rolling quickly at QVC and HSN, but these things don’t fall into place over night. The shopping channel factor could save your 2009 with one single airing. Contact us regarding shopping channel representation and start making your 2009 profitable TODAY!
- Andy Herrold is an Internet Marketing Analyst at Western Creative advertising agency.
We all know that the chances of a successful DRTV product selling well on a shopping channel are good. After all, the keys to both of these communication channels are similar: great demonstrations; unique, never-before-seen qualities; and an attractive offer. But what about products that did not hit the needed sales to be successful on DRTV? Can they make it on shopping channels?
Many times the answer is yes. I can tell you of many products that did not prove successful on DRTV but became tremendous successes on shopping channels. Shopping channels have a very different business model than a typical DRTV campaign.
The more you tell the more you sell
Shopping channels use seven to eight minute segments to discuss and demonstrate the product, while a typical short form spot is only one to two minutes at best. That extra time matters; most sales made at shopping channels are in the final moments, not the first two.
Over the years, the shopping networks have developed a loyal following. In fact, over half of their shoppers buy 50 or more items per year. Their customers know and trust them. They have developed a reputation for providing quality goods to their shoppers. Their shoppers also understand that if they are unhappy, they will get their money back.
Controlled media costs
We all know that the increasing cost of media is making DRTV more challenging. Shopping channels have the luxury of owning the network, therefore they do not fall victim to increasing media costs or availability challenges.
Superior pricing model
In DRTV, we are looking for the magical five to one pricing model, though nowadays it is more like seven to one. The shopping channels work on a 45% to 60% model, depending on the category, giving them much better pricing – and the product a better chance at profitability.
Each network has developed their own on-air talents, people that are considered trusted friends to many of the viewers. When a talent gets excited about a product, so does the viewer. Shopping channels also take on-air calls from people who have already bought and love a product. It is as if the viewer is listening in on a neighborhood conversation.
Massive web traffic
Websites like those of QVC and HSN are amongst the most-visited and best-converting sites the nation. Every product that is on the air is available via those sites.
Do you have what it takes?
My recommendation is to do your homework. Visit the sites of the TV shopping channels to look for other items in your category. Do they currently sell in your category? If not, that may be a sign of a mismatch. Are you price competitive with other items in the class?
Do you offer something unique or solve a problem that the current product offerings do not address? The basics of good TV marketing still apply: is your product truly unique or is it a “me too” item? Shopping networks are seeking items that their shoppers cannot find at major retailers.
Does your product appeal to a wide audience? For QVC and HSN, the first three quarters of the year are aimed at women that are self-buying, with the last quarter being holiday gift-giving. Make sure that your product fits this demographic group.
Does your product have a dramatic live demonstration? The real power of TV shopping is the credibility that comes from seeing someone do an amazing demonstration right before the viewers’ eyes. Make sure that, in addition to the live demo, you have compelling lifestyle b-roll video to augment the presentation.
When you do meet with a buyer at the network, know your product, category and competition. Be prepared to enthusiastically demonstrate how your product will bring value to their customers and, ultimately, the network.
- Mark Young is the chairman of the Western Creative advertising agency
Today we focus on the ever popular question: How do I get my product on TV shopping channels?
How long have you been chasing down buyers at shopping channels begging them to give you 5 seconds to pitch your product? Months? Years?
With the help of a preferred vendor it that day could only be days away.
Every year America’s major shopping channels launch thousands of never-before-seen products into the market place. The biggest of all shopping channels is QVC, located in West Chester, PA. QVC is a worldwide television network and retailer with locations and TV networks in the US, the UK, Japan and China. Here’s a little known fact: QVC is the second largest TV network worldwide.
The number two player in the business is HSN, or the Home Shopping Network, located in Florida, followed by Shop at Home and Shop NBC. There are a few others, but these are the majors of the business.
All of these networks have a product review process. As in the case of QVC, you go to their website www.qvcproductsearch.com and apply to have your product reviewed. Via their site you will fill out a questionnaire talking about your product, business and many other items. Once completed, your application will go to someone in vendor relations to be reviewed and considered. Typically, this process takes six or more months.
Is there a better way? Because these networks get so many products sent to them every day, it is difficult for them to really examine them as closely as they would like. For this reason, many of the networks depend on the talents or product reps and vendors to bring in new products.
This would be similar to having an agent to get into the movies. These are people who have a successful reputation of bringing the networks winning products. They know what the networks are looking for, who within the networks is the right buyer for a product and what the inventor or manufacturer needs to do to get it TV-ready.
Here is an example: we had an inventor of a diet product come to us for help. She had been chasing QVC for over a year with no luck. We took her on as a client and got her product accepted by QVC within two weeks, because we have a trusted relationship, a reputation for success and access to the right people on a daily basis. (Western Creative has had tremendous success in this arena and has conducted literally millions of dollars in business with the shopping channels.)
How do you know if your product is right for the shopping channels? Most of the shopping channels have several different product categories and operate similar to many major retailers with a major exception: retailers want products with branding in place; the shopping channels are willing to create the brand with you.
(An interesting side note, to show the value of QVC’s participation in developing a brand: a typical 8-minute primetime airing on QVC is the equivalent of $300,000 of advertising for your product. Imagine having someone buy your product from you and throw in that level of advertising for free.)
There are several important criteria that a product must meet, and chief among them is that a product up for consideration is unique, demonstrable and not readily available to the public. Preferably, the shopping networks want to be the first to show it, if not the exclusive seller of the product.
Major areas of interest for the shopping channels are the following: collectables, fashion, cosmetics, shoes, home goods, kitchen gadgets, labor saving devices, unique food items, electronics and gift items. These preferred product areas reflect the 90%-plus female audience. However, there have been some inroads to the male market with NASCAR, the NFL, Craftsman tools and Chuck Woolery Outdoors. (The latter category is operated and managed by this firm.)
Breaking into the shopping channel business is very exciting – but not without risks. After you have been approved and your product has met all of the legal and quality control standards of the network, you will be issued a purchase order. However, this is not the end of this story. Every purchase order will contain a full return privilege, meaning if the product does not sell, they can send it back to you. So there is definitely a risk involved.
An experienced agency will be very helpful here. A good agent will know if your product can make it before it ever gets to the network. And, if the product is approved, the agent knows the tricks to guide it through the system, to give the product the best chance of making it.
To drive this idea home, we recently took on a client that had been on QVC and failed. As a rule, once a product fails on any shopping channel it is through. Despite this fact, we were able to reconfigure the product slightly and, with our reputation, convinced the QVC buyer to give it another chance. The second time around the product was a hit.
This was a rare case, however. As in all things, you want to make your first impression your best impression, because you can never count on getting second chance with a shopping network.
To give your product a fighting chance, it is vital that you find an experienced agent that is willing to represent you to the shopping networks. An agent with a long-running relationship with the networks will go a long way in getting your product picked up and, just as important, giving your product a real shot at success.
- Mark Young is co-owner of Chuck Woolery Signature Products, a QVC preferred vendor.