Potential rewards: Big exposure, and you avoid many costs
BY DON DEBELAK
In this day of social media and selling on the internet, inventors should remember that infomercials—and short-form commercials produced by Direct Response TV or DRTV companies—still take submissions from inventors. (Editor’s note: DRTV is television advertising that asks consumers to respond directly to the company, usually via calling a toll-free number, sending an SMS message, or by visiting a website.)
If a DRTV company takes on an inventor’s product, it pays the costs of bringing that product to market: sourcing, purchasing, producing buying ads, operating call centers and fulfillment, and all other costs. The inventor normally gets a small royalty while getting big exposure for the product and potentially large sales.
DRTV companies are looking for products that are unique and can’t be found on the internet. They need a product with a high “wow” factor that demonstrates well, that people can understand immediately.
They also like a big market, but your product doesn’t have to appeal to everyone. It just has to appeal to a big enough group that can be targeted.
For example, food preparation products for the person who loves to cook can be sold on Food Network; the costs of ads are lower; the audience is ideal. Having Facebook groups or other internet groups that will be interested in your product also helps DRTV companies succeed with a new product.
Steps to success
- Have a prototype that really works and looks great. You can’t go in with anything less; if not, the companies are not going to approve your design.
- Make a demonstration video that really wows people. Consider getting a local actor to enhance the video.
- Include some testimonials, ideally in a video with the user demonstrating the product, or at least with written copy.
- Have a very short presentation; five minutes is best.
- Be prepared to let your contact use the product. Bring all the supplies you need.
- Be flexible. Contacts are not going to sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements; they are going to offer you a low royalty, and their contracts will greatly favor the DRTV company. If you want to negotiate items, be prepared for the company to walk away.
- Be willing to accept losing all control of the product. The DRTV company is going to invest a lot of money in your product and can make changes. This is alarming to most inventors, but if you want to insist you probably won’t have a deal.
DRTV can be very good for inventors. Your presentation to a company will be hard work, and I recommend people approach DRTV even if doesn’t work out because your effort in preparing the invention for a presentation will be useful to you when approaching other companies.
You can find interested and interesting DRTV companies through online searches. Be sure to investigate whether these are proven companies with unquestioned integrity.