Add Nicole Richie to the list of stars using home shopping networks like QVC to peddle products. She joins celebrities such as Joan Rivers, Rachel Zoe, and the Kardashians who are already raking in millions in sales.
But QVC is not just for celebrities-turned-entrepreneurs. Real small business owners can make big money through outlets like QVC. However, landing your product in front of the camera is an extremely competitive process.
Jim DeBetta started pitching products to QVC back in the mid-1990s when he worked for a successful consumer product company that sold merchandise to major retail chains. Part of his job included selling to TV shopping channels. He’s even had his own company’s products featured on HSN, the Home Shopping Network, and it was a very successful endeavor. Now he’s helping other entrepreneurs get their products in front of the decision makers at networks like HSN and QVC – and his tips can help you, too.
Benefits of Getting Your Product on QVC or HSN
QVC and HSN are two of the largest multimedia retailers in the world. Both sell beauty, fashion, jewelry, and home products primarily through television programming and to online shoppers. Getting your product on the air with QVC or HSN means you’re broadcasting to millions of customers in just minutes.
“In addition to the vast sales potential, it is also a great brand building medium,” says DeBetta. He further explains, “If you have a great sell-through on your first airing, QVC will ask you to come back and do more airings, which leads to more business and more brand exposure.” The “sell-through” is the ratio of the quantity of goods sold by a retail outlet to the quantity you distribute to it at a wholesale price.
Prepare to Get Your Product On Air
Already have a great product? Then you’re well on your way. But that’s not enough – you need a great product that makes for great TV.
For example, clothing, accessories, and shoes can all be worn live on air by beautiful models. Furthermore, it’s key to have a product that can be demonstrated well in front of a TV audience. Put yourself in the QVC or HSN host’s shoes – how could they fill an entire segment talking about and selling your product? Would it be exciting? Or would it be boring TV?
Hire a Broker to Help
Once you determine that you’ve got a great product that can be demonstrated on TV, you need to make sure you’re getting your product and pitch in front of the right people. Using a broker with ample experience in the industry can be a huge help. Brokers are paid by commission, but if you get your product in front of millions it could be a worthwhile investment. Finding a broker can be as simple as asking the buyer for a referral.
You can also research your industry’s trade associations and find out if there’s a list of sales reps that you can contact. Expect to pay them a commission of every sale they score, and immediately negotiate those details via a signed contract.
Create a Working Sample and Gauge Interest
You can also contact the buyer on your own, but if all you’ve got to show for your product is a sketch on a napkin, that won’t be enough to convince an executive at HSN or QVC. You need a working sample, and you must decide on the price point. Then, create a brief pitch that focuses on the product’s main benefits and features.
DeBetta suggests starting with a phone call to the buyer or an email that simply gauges their initial interest. Finding out exactly who to email or call will take some research, and that’s one area where a broker can help. Once they are intrigued, provide a sample and follow up with a more developed pitch.
How to Develop the Perfect Pitch
If you manage to get your product in front of the right people without the help of a broker, experts stress that you must use your time wisely – you may only have a few minutes to win them over. Don’t waste the buyer’s time with details about why you came up with the product idea. Instead, focus on the selling points, the financial aspects, and keep your pitch short and sweet.
Be considerate of the buyer’s limited time; don’t waste minutes with “cutesy stuff.” As DeBetta describes it: “Don’t tell a buyer that your product is the best thing in the world and that they will make a trillions of dollars with it. They hear this everyday. I get to the point and advise them that they need to see my product, as it is unique and fun.”
1. Be Ready to Explain the Financials
Start with how your product will benefit their pocketbook. Retail buyers are most concerned about their bottom line – it’s how they keep their bosses happy. Just as you are hoping to make big bucks with an appearance on HSN or QVC, they too want to make money off of your product. The only products that will make it past this step are the items that show great financial promise.
2. Prove That It’s a Demonstrable Product
Show how it’s used or worn. If it’s a food product, bring samples. Pretend you are the host. Practice this often so it’s a smooth process with a great delivery.
3. Share the Clear Benefits
Give the buyers several reasons why people will not be able to live without your product. Perhaps you have a health product that helps with weight loss management, or a safety product that will protect shoppers’ children from harm. Whatever the benefits are, communicate them clearly.
4. Explain Why It’s Unique
Research your competition. Explain why your product stands out in the marketplace and why consumers would prefer to purchase your product instead.
Is your product made from organic food ingredients while your competitor’s isn’t? Do you have a celebrity endorsement that your competitors don’t have? Are you selling something made with superior parts while your competitor is lacking the same level of quality? Highlight what sets you apart.
5. Describe the Mass Appeal of Your Product
There must be a certain sense of mass appeal, because millions of people will be watching your product pitch if it makes it on air. The product needs to work for the audience or they need to be prompted to buy it for someone they know and love.
Be Prepared for Tough Competition
While it may not be quite as tough as winning the lottery, the competition is fierce, as thousands of people submit products to QVC each year. Air time is limited, which means only a select number of products can be featured. That means the majority of people with dreams of QVC and HSN won’t step in front of the camera. And even if you get your product on air, it doesn’t guarantee millions in the bank. In fact, most products don’t succeed.
Simply getting on air is one step in a multifaceted marketing plan. You need a great host, great on-air presentation, a great price, and a superior product. If you’re rejected, use that as motivation for improvement and don’t be afraid to ask the buyer why. Getting feedback about your product can help you to improve it, which will make it more desirable for the network and the consumer.
Getting an item in front of millions of eyes seems like the ultimate success story. And with the right pitch and a great product, it’s definitely possible.
Don’t be upset if you don’t hear from a buyer right away. Your product is one of thousands they’re hearing about, so it can take a long time to work through those piles of submissions. DeBetta suggests following up every two weeks, but don’t be discouraged if months pass without word from the network. Take the time to become more educated in the world of home shopping. Perhaps next time, your product will end up on camera instead of the cutting room floor.
Have you had any success selling a product on television? What other non-conventional methods would you suggest for selling a product?
(photo credit: Shutterstock)