How an infomercial got me to buy


I confess. I purchased a flameless candle from a television shopping network.

It was a big day when the packaged arrived. I quickly unwrapped the candle (plus the two extra candles I got free– just additional shipping) and switched on the flameless wonder. That’s when it hit me—what kind of marketing strategy prompted me to pay for a fake flame?

First, let’s talk about what the marketing people did right.

It’s about benefits, not features.The infomercial didn’t focus on the plastic candle. They may have mentioned the hours of illumination– I can’t recall. What I do remember is the announcer and her side kick helping me envision candlelight dinners and wintery nights lit by the warm glow of these candles. Sounded good to me.

Testimonials and case studies. A woman called into the infomercial show to tell us that guests to her home always remark how beautiful her house is with a flameless candle conveniently lit in every room. I certainly want guests to like my home, and flicking the switch seems like an easy way to get the desired effect.

Solve a problem. This is what got me from being somewhat interested in the candle to pulling out my credit card. The infomercial host looked into the camera and asked viewers if keeping our loving pets safe was important to us. Did you know that with a real flame you run the risk of catching your dog or cat on fire? Actually, I’m aware of this, but that’s another story. The flameless candle seemed like a really good solution to this potential (or in my case real) crisis. What problems does your business or organization help solve?

Infomercials get it. They repeat the message in six different scenarios seven days a week. This is a copywriter and marketing person’s mantra. You may be tired of repeating your message, but it takes several repetitions for you to even get on your target markets’ radar screens.

Call to action. Here’s where they shine. If you buy within the next hour, they’ll throw in everything but the kitchen sink. Their messages aren’t about “hoping you will consider”, or “we look forward to hearing from you.” They clearly articulate what I need to do next. Subtlety is a poor attribute in a call to action. If your message is respectful, consistent and resonates with your audience, a solid call to action is very appropriate. Just make sure you can deliver on your promise.

Alas, this is where the flameless candle people made a poor judgment call. They assured me their product has the look and feel of a real one. In my opinion, this was a promise that they couldn’t deliver. Their candle can’t hold a flame to the real thing. I still have it on a shelf in my den. And I make it a point to turn it on for guests and tell them how unhappy I am. Then I switch it off and light a candle. My pets will just have to deal with it.

Marianne Canter is President of Canter Consulting, an integrated communications and fund development firm offering strategies to take your business further. You can find Marianne on Twitter @canterconsults, and at

Add a Blog


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.