To many people, infomercials represent everything that’s wrong with society. They’re crass, materialistic, demeaning and manipulative. On the flip side, however, they’re passionate, interactive and fanatically single-minded. Best of all, they’re packed with reasons to buy, and they exude a sense of urgency to buy right now. In many respects, they represent an ideal first step in creating a powerful and memorable personal brand.
The act of creating an infomercial about yourself – i.e., the You that wants to stand out, get noticed and be remembered – can help crystallize your story. It forces you to imbue life, energy and purpose into your personal brand. Also, the process of envisioning and scripting your personal infomercial forces you to put yourself in the place of everyone you interact with, develop a well-articulated elevator pitch, and focus solely in what your audience will see and hear (and most importantly, how they feel about what they see and hear).
Infomercials and AIDA
Infomercials follow the classic AIDA model that has ruled the direct marketing world for almost a century. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action; and while it is ridiculously simplistic and manipulative, it does provide a useful checklist for building and delivering a compelling personal brand story and experience. The AIDA model works like this:
- Attention: We live in a world of information and sensory overload. In order to grab someone’s attention, you need to divert it from something else. If you don’t engage the audience during the first few moments of your interaction, then your first impression will be your last.
- Interest: Once you’ve gained someone’s attention – typically via a monologue – your communication needs to evolve naturally into a dialogue that’s focused on the customer’s needs. Forget about what’s important to you, because that’s of interest only to you.
- Desire: The next stage in the selling process is to engender desire. Most marketers and sales people skip or gloss over this step. They confuse need with desire. The customer may recognize his need for what you’re offering but, for any one of a thousand reasons, not feel compelled to satisfy it. Desire is the emotional manifestation of a need, and it’s best generated via visualization of what life would be like after satisfying the need (e.g., via testimonials, before-and-after scenarios, and other storytelling techniques).
- Action: This step closes the deal. It has to be straightforward and simple: “Do this and get that.” Anything more and you risk losing all the goodwill you’re created.
Identify Your AIDA Model
Complete this simple outline for your infomercial:
- Identify the make-up of your audience(s) – who exactly are you appealing to?
- Determine the format for the infomercial. Will it look and feel like a talk show, a small group discussion, or a lecture? Will it feature a demonstration or testimonials? Will it be informative, entertaining, or sentimental?
- Select your spokesperson (because it can’t be you). Should it be a man or a woman? Young or old? Should she be dressed casually or formally? Should he speak with a down-home twang, an aristocratic air, or a pedantic drone?
- Zero in on the number one benefit that your product (i.e., YOU) provides. (This is your hook, so choose it carefully.) Then identify some corollary benefits that build off of or tie into this primary benefit.
- Articulate why the purchase decision needs to be made today, on the spot, while the 1-800 number is being displayed on the screen.
When you’re done outlining your infomercial, you’ll have created a roadmap for all your subsequent marketing efforts. What may have felt like a sell-out at first will, in the end, help you achieve a 20/20 mindset.