Bulls-eye! Hitting The Target or
Targeting the Hit?
By Paul Greenberg
Awise friend once related to me this parable: A
king is walking through a forest and sees an
astounding sight — tree after tree with targets
drawn on them, and, at the dead center of each
one, an arrow firmly planted in the bulls-eye. The king
happens upon a little boy with a bow in his hand. “Are
you the one who shot all these arrows?” asks the King.
“Yes!” replies the boy. “Then what is the secret of your
incredible accuracy?” the amazed king inquires. “It’s really
quite simple,” the boy replies, “First I shoot the
arrow, then I draw the target.”
The DRTV business is notoriously fickl e,
and a hit is incredibly rare. Statistics put
the infomercial failure rate at 95 percent.
So how is it that the same few people in
this business are responsible for most of
the hits? They understand the lesson
behind the parable.
Most people think of an infomercial
as an arrow they fire at their target audience. They assume that if only their
accuracy is good enough they’ll have a
reasonable chance of striking the target.
While that strategy is an option, it’s unlikely to bear fruit consistently.
The parable tells us to look at it quite
differently: Consider the audience as our
arrow and the infomercial as our target that we
paint around it.
So how do we apply this practically? Remember, if the
target is to be drawn around the arrow we need to know
everything about that arrow’s placement. Who is your audience? What do they like? How do they think? What do
they spend their money on?
We begin by drawing the bulls-eye around the very tip
of the arrow. Orient your show to the demographic that is
actually watching. It doesn’t matter how great your show
or how fantastic your product
— if they’re not watching
they’re not buying. Everyone
knows it would be ludicrous
trying to sell snow shovels in
Hawaii. Perfectly craft your
show around your audience.
Now that we have the arrow on the target, let’s expand it. First, we paint the outer center of the target:
Solve a real problem the audience is experiencing at that
very moment. Show them they have the problem, and
then clearly explain your solution. Make sure your arrow
knows it belongs on your target right now.
Now comes the next band. Just as you are carefully
positioning the target around the arrow, you must skill-
fully position your product around your audience. Here
is where you have to go beyond saying it will solve their
problem. You have to show and explain how it will
do it. Keep in mind the audience is comprised of
skeptics. You have to show and prove. Demon-
strate why it works. Establish a belief system
that explains how they can expect such tre-
Let’s add the next band. Anticipate the
objections and answer every one of them.
DRTV is based on impulse buying and
overcoming a natural inclination of
doubt. Before you start production, be
brutally honest about your product. Pull it
apart and examine all of its drawbacks. Then,
turn those negatives into positives.
Now the next-to-last band — never take
anything for granted. Many times I’ve screened
infomercials to focus groups who come back with
a seemingly simple complaint like, “With a battery-
driven motor, it probably isn’t very powerful.” In fact, the
product was a plug-in item but because we weren’t clear
enough, the audience had a significant objection based
upon an incorrect assumption. Your audience can’t touch
or feel your product, so they’ll want all the information
they can get in order to be comfortable making that call.
Now it’s time to complete our target with the final
band. Make certain your infomercial contains the product’s every imaginable real benefit and feature. Every time
you show one you can potentially increase sales by 2 or 3
percent. How many people bought the food dehydrator
because it made potpourri? Mention several of them and
you can end up with more than a 10-percent increase in
sales. Squeezing in as many features, benefits and situations into your show as reasonably possible can very often
make the difference between success and failure.