Most television viewers have likely watched an infomercial, those 30- to 60-minute advertisements that tout the benefits of a "one of a kind" product. Infomercials are a form of direct marketing that attempt to entice the viewer to make an immediate purchase. Virtually all infomercials include several key elements.
Television infomercials begin by discussing a specific problem, such as the need to lose weight. Negative effects of the problem are also outlined, like the inability to fit into clothes or having a lack of energy. Once the problem is identified, the infomercial will introduce the product and emphasize that it is the solution to the problem.
Infomercials typically make a promise, which is the major benefit the product will deliver. The promise usually contains a catchphrase, such as "lose up to 30 lbs. in 30 days." The promise is repeated several times during the infomercial as a way of reinforcement of the message and as a means to create excitement about the product.
Infomercials make use of the visual aspect of television to demonstrate the product's effectiveness. For a weight loss product, the viewer will see a split-screen shot of a glum, overweight person before using the product on one side of the screen and an adjacent picture of the same person, only this time svelte and smiling after using the product.
Infomercials attempt to create a sense of urgency by claiming that the offer is only available for a limited amount of time, such as until the end of the infomercial. The idea is to make the viewer attempt to pick up the phone or go to the computer immediately to place an order. A money-back guarantee is also included to create a "what have you got to lose" mentality.
Infomercials attempt to create value by adding "extras" to the offer. One common method is to show a drastic price reduction, such as "originally $99.99, now yours for just two easy payments of $29.99." Another technique is the addition of free gifts like a special diet booklet or an exercise video packaged with a weight loss product.