Infomercials, like the classic Shamwow infomercial, are an example of how structure and technique can have a huge effect on how a user or prospect is driven toward taking a specific action like clicking a buy button.

Infomercials follow a specific outline that any small business can use to drive action but few businesses ever consider using it when they pitch their product or service. In this post, we’ll describe the structure and give you infomercial examples of how you can use it in your business.

How to Make an Infomercial

Creating an effective infomercial involves several key steps. Here’s a brief guide:

  1. Understand Your Audience: Begin by deeply understanding the problem your product solves for your target audience. This understanding will guide the narrative of your infomercial.
  2. Craft a Compelling Script: Develop a script that follows the five-step structure, ensuring each segment flows logically into the next and keeps viewers engaged.
  3. Focus on High-Quality Production: Invest in professional-quality video and audio production. This includes using appropriate lighting, settings, and visuals to enhance your product’s appeal.
  4. Incorporate Psychological Triggers: Utilize psychological triggers at each step of the infomercial to build interest, create a connection, and motivate viewers to act.
  5. Include a Strong Call to Action: Your infomercial should conclude with a compelling call to action, highlighting the special offer and creating a sense of urgency to encourage immediate purchases.
  6. Leverage Testimonials and Social Proof: Incorporating testimonials and before-and-after scenarios can significantly boost credibility and persuade viewers.
  7. Ensure Compliance and Ethical Marketing: Make sure your infomercial complies with all relevant advertising standards and regulations, avoiding misleading claims.

What Type of Outline Do Most TV Infomercials Use?

TV infomercials utilize a highly structured and strategic outline designed to guide viewers through a persuasive narrative, compelling them towards making a purchase. This outline is broken down into five key steps, each serving a distinct purpose in the sales process:

  1. Explain The Universal Problem: Infomercials begin by identifying a common issue that the target audience faces, emphasizing the pain or inconvenience it causes. This step is crucial for capturing the viewer’s attention and establishing relatability.
  2. Share The Ideal Solution: Next, the infomercial outlines what an ideal solution to the presented problem would look like, tapping into the viewers’ desires or aspirations, and setting the stage for the product being advertised.
  3. Explain Why The Ideal Solution Is Hard To Achieve Or Is Undesirable: Here, potential obstacles or drawbacks of the conventional solutions are highlighted, creating a need for a unique solution.
  4. Explain How What You Offer Is A Pivot And Better: The product or service being advertised is introduced as a superior alternative that overcomes the previously mentioned challenges, offering clear benefits and value.
  5. Reveal The Special Offer: Finally, a compelling offer is presented, often with added incentives like discounts, bonuses, or limited-time offers, to encourage immediate action.

This infomercial outline is effective because at each step, the prospect is taking small, incremental steps towards your solution. These steps are rooted in both universal truths and emotion.

Marketers can learn from the structure and techniques used by infomercials when they design their marketing materials.

Whether you are writing copy for a landing page, developing a sales presentation, or creating an ad, the structure and techniques used in infomercials can help you achieve greater conversion rates.

The process involves drawing the prospect in, establishing a level of trust, removing any doubts, and convincing them that the time to buy is now.

Here’s a quick table representation of the infomercial examples broken down into five steps.

1. Explain The Universal Problem

The process starts with knowing your user or prospect. Once you know your customer you should be able to understand their needs and problems.

In this step, you need to alert the user or prospect to a common problem by Illustrating the pain associated with their current state.

Marketers often use images or video where appropriate that exaggerates the problem, such as a ladder balancing precariously on an uneven surface, a person grabbing their back and grimacing in pain, etc.

“Are you losing business because when you are on a sales call, you don’t have the key customer or product information you need in the moment?”

2. Share The Ideal Solution

In this step, outline the aspirations or desires of a perfect future. Does your user or prospect want to become rich, beautiful, happier, save time, etc?

“Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a solution where your mobile device could access your back-office database, so you can always have access to customer and product information from anywhere?”

In this step, you want the user or prospect to be able to acknowledge and relate to the problem and solution.

Often after the problem is clearly presented, it is very clear even without stating the obvious what the ideal solution would look like.

3. Explain Why The Ideal Solution Is Hard To Achieve Or Is Undesirable

In this step, highlight the risk or uncertainty associated with the solution framing the need for a better solution. Does it cost too much? Will it take too much time?

“Creating a custom app to connect your mobile device to your back-office data is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive?

4. Explain How What You Offer Is A Pivot And Better

In this step explain the benefits of using your product or services by suggesting a simpler alternative solution to mitigate or circumvent the risk or uncertainty described in step 3.

“The good news is that we have an amazing mobile app that allows even non-technical user to connect their back-end database at a fraction of the cost and time of making your own.”

At this point, you want to present plenty of social proof such as before and after images, testimonials, and offer guarantees that the solution will work for them too. Don’t just tell them, show them. Be sure to include lots of data and research to back up your claims.

You can benefit from crafting a memorable tagline in this step that you repeat over and over. Take for example, Ronco Rotisserie’s tagline of “Just set it and forget it”.

5. Reveal The Special Offer

In this final step, explain your offer and use words to encourage the user or prospect to take advantage of your call to action now.

The best offers make a case that they are well worth the price but then add additional value, creating scarcity and a sense of urgency to buy now, and assuage fears with a guarantee.

Add Value

After you explain how cheap and easy your solution compares to other options, many buyers will be convinced to buy now. However, now it is time to heap on some additional value to make your offer even more irresistible.

A common phrase you hear in infomercials is “But wait, there’s more!” as they add more and more related products. Shamwow doubled your order, but wait,-they added a mop too.

Add Urgency

Good sales pitches will also add scarcity or a sense of urgency to their offer. Phrases like “Not available in stores” or “For a limited time only”.

One site I recently visited had a long video and at the end when the offer was presented they made it clear that if I left the page, the offer would disappear.

Reduce Friction

Another technique is that if your offer is expensive you may tie in urgency by adding that if you act now, we’ll offer you two easy payments of only $19.99!

Finally, the best offers remove any friction caused by buyer’s remorse by offering a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee.

Common Infomercial Phrases

To help you craft your own marketing copy here is a list of common phrases that can be used in combination when describing your special offer:

  • But wait, there’s more
  • Thanks to this special offer
  • Operators standing by
  • We’ll double your order
  • Call right now
  • Act now
  • Limited time only
  • Supplies limited
  • Not available in stores
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 2 easy payments

Infomercial Types

Infomercials began as a way for TV studios to sell late-night air time.

As a kid growing up I remember that after the late show the TV studios simply signed off for the evening and placed a test pattern on the screen until the early morning when they signed back on the air.

Advertisers were unwilling to buy late-night ads when very few people were watching TV. It made little sense to broadcast a programing that the station had to purchase if they could not cover the cost with paid ads.

To leverage this dead time, TV stations turned to paid-programing.

Late-night paid-programing allowed advertisers to buy up an entire 30 or 60-minute time slot in what became known as Direct Response Television. Paid-programing gave rise to the long-form infomercial.

Long-form infomercial were more like what you might see today on the Home Shopping Network or QVC. Primarily they focused on the features and benefits of the product and leveraged testimonials from happy customers to sell products.

With the success of late-night infomercials, many companies pared-down their message to create one or two-minute short-form infomercials that could be run during the daytime hours during the commercial break.

To make the most of the shorter time slot advertisers began using the five steps described above to make their point quickly and get you to buy.

While the Shamwow infomercial is a classic example of an infomercial there are several other great examples.

For further inspiration when it comes to creating your own infomercial, below are a few very popular infomercial examples to put your imagination into high gear.

Ronco Ginsu Knives – Short-form infomercial example.

Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer – Long-form Informercial example

The Snuggie – Short-form infomercial example.

Ronco Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ – Long-form infomercial example

The ThighMaster – Short-form infomercial example

OxiClean – Short-form infomercial example

Slap Chop – Short-form infomercial example


Understanding Different Demographics

Infomercial strategies must be adaptable to resonate with diverse demographic groups. Age differences, for example, significantly impact how a message is received.

Younger audiences, more inclined towards quick, visually appealing content, may respond better to infomercials with a fast-paced narrative and modern aesthetics.

Conversely, older demographics might prefer detailed explanations and demonstrations.

Geographical location plays a crucial role as well.

An infomercial crafted for an urban audience might emphasize time-saving or space-efficient features, while one aimed at rural areas could focus on durability and utility.

Understanding lifestyle nuances is equally important. A fitness enthusiast will react differently to a product than someone who values convenience in their daily routine.

Adapting the Message: To maximize impact, businesses should tailor their infomercials to these demographic subtleties. This includes the choice of language, cultural references, the tone of the narrator, and even the color scheme and visuals used in the production.

Integration with Digital Marketing

Here are the main communication channels where you can use infomercials:

Leveraging Social Media

Infomercial techniques must evolve to fit social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok. Short, engaging video clips that encapsulate the infomercial’s essence can be highly effective. These platforms favor content that is quick to consume yet memorable.

Using platform-specific features, such as Instagram stories or TikTok’s unique video effects, can enhance the infomercial’s appeal. It’s also crucial to encourage viewer interaction through comments, shares, and likes, fostering a community around the product.

Email Marketing Strategies

Capturing Attention: Infomercials can be effectively translated into email marketing campaigns.

The subject line of the email acts as the initial hook, akin to the opening scene of an infomercial, drawing the reader in. The body of the email then guides the reader through the five-step infomercial structure, with clear, engaging language and compelling visuals.

Emails can also include interactive elements like clickable demos or customer testimonial videos, providing a richer experience akin to watching an infomercial on television.

Behind-the-Scenes Insights: Production Techniques

CThe production quality of an infomercial can significantly impact its effectiveness. This includes well-thought-out scripting that resonates with the target audience, professional-quality video and audio, and appropriate settings and lighting that enhance the product’s appeal.

A high-quality production conveys professionalism and credibility, increasing the likelihood of audience engagement and product trust.

Psychological Triggers

Each step of an infomercial is designed to tap into specific psychological triggers.

From highlighting a universal problem that creates a sense of relatability, to presenting a solution that offers relief or improvement, these triggers are carefully orchestrated to guide the viewer towards a purchase decision.

Understanding and effectively utilizing these triggers, such as the urgency created in the final call to action, is key to crafting a compelling infomercial.

Advanced Infomercial Marketing Strategies

Here are some key marketing strategies that work with infomercials.

Cross-Platform Strategy – Unified Messaging

Infomercials should be a part of a larger, cross-platform marketing strategy. This involves ensuring that the core message and branding remain consistent across TV, online platforms, social media, and other marketing channels.

Retargeting Techniques

Retargeting is crucial, especially in digital formats. Viewers who have shown interest in the infomercial can be re-engaged through targeted ads, emails, or social media content, increasing the chances of conversion.

Compliance and Regulations – Ensuring Legality

It’s essential to ensure that all claims made in infomercials comply with advertising standards and legal regulations. This includes truthful representation of the product, clear disclosure of any endorsements, and adherence to any industry-specific advertising guidelines.

Ethical Marketing – Prioritizing Truthfulness

Ethical considerations should be at the forefront of infomercial production. This includes avoiding misleading information, manipulation tactics, and ensuring that the product delivers on its promises.

By adhering to these principles and effectively utilizing the strategies and techniques of infomercials, businesses can create compelling marketing campaigns that resonate with their target audience and drive conversions.

The key lies in understanding the audience, crafting quality content, utilizing digital platforms effectively, and maintaining ethical and legal standards.

Wrapping Up

Infomercials use a structure and technique that have been effective in selling products for years. They are effective because, at each step, the prospect is taking small, incremental steps towards your solution.

These steps are based on time-tested buyer psychology.

How can the structure and techniques used in infomercials help you achieve greater conversion rates?

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