How to make an infomercial

Paddock creates direct response commercials and campaigns for clients, agencies and entrepreneurs at all levels. We offer creative, branding and production services, as well as full campaign management services. As a result of our years of experience and contacts, we can enter into the process at any of the steps below.

The following are the major steps you will need to take to move your product from idea to reality. While not detailed, we are also able to connect the dots for some manufacturing and funding needs.

Product Evaluation

There are a few strong principals at work in every product that succeeds. In many cases, your product may not be right for the direct response market, and we will let you know if it is worth your time and expense to proceed to a test phase (If it’s not, we can help with a plan for your product that doesn’t include direct response or refer you to someone that can).  Our reputation has been built on getting behind winners and not taking work for work sake.

1. Can we show a problem and your product’s immediate solution? A product that is right for direct response is “problem/solution” based. It presents a “common difficulty” solved by your product. It can be inside or outside your home, it might be a service, but it solves something that consumers can relate to.

2. Can compelling demonstrations, be shown on camera? TV is obviously a visual medium and DR works because it capitalizes on, well, looking interesting. In our business we say, “It demos well.”

3. Does your product have mass appeal? One reason you see so many kitchen products is that so many people have kitchens. Health, Beauty and Fitness are other big product segments. Niche products sometimes work, but not as often or as well those that target a wide audience.

4. Is it priced right for direct response? While there is no magic number, pricing needs to reflect two elements, it needs to feel like a great deal.  For short form, pricing needs to be low enough for an impulse buy, typically $19.95.  Long form’s pricing is higher, and therefore a more considered buying proposition, but still must show great value and solve a problem.

5. Cost of Goods Sold.   The rule for short form spots is to have a minimum of a 5-6 times COGS to retail pricing.  Products costing more than $4 are hard to make money on a $19.95 offer unless there are compelling upsells or annuity features of the product.  If used to drive retail with more efficient advertising is another conversation. So, let us help you think through the right pricing and market strategy.

In summary, your product needs to solve a problem, demo well, have mass appeal, and is priced for a high perceived value and appropriate COGS.

An additional and often unstated element is that it has “gadget appeal,” meaning the product is just fun to own. If your product makes people say, “That’s cool!” that is a great start.

Campaign Strategy and Product Branding:

If you don’t get the campaign and brand strategy right, you are opening yourself up for disappointment and a lot of time and money wasted. This critical phase includes highlighting primary benefits, cost of goods, and understanding your target audience’s relationship with your brand and product.

If needed, we can help establish or modify your brand identity. This might include working with your product name and logo, and even developing new packaging, all of which help differentiate your product on TV and on the retail shelf.

For 25 years we have successfully launched many “mass” market products.

Creating a concept for the commercial:

Since a core precept of a direct response commercial is that a product solves a problem, the best creative treatment will showcase the problem with clarity, and make it obvious how your product easily and quickly solves it. But a solid creative plan also includes strong planning and a script that shows off your products most compelling features, and creates a strong sense of excitement.


We aren’t exaggerating when we say we’ve shot thousands of commercials, both in the direct response venue and in traditional brand advertising. Our experience in this area sets us apart in the direct response world.

While we have traveled and shot widely, but here in Kansas City we find we can create a strong and solid look for any need, without incurring the extra expense you get “on the coasts.”

We pride ourselves on quick turnaround times and we do our best to schedule your shoot so that we can begin editing the day production is done. This means you can see a first cut of your commercial the following day. We are full-service in that we have everything you need in house.


Once the commercial is nearing completion, you’ll need to develop a media test plan with the right media agency.  While we don’t plan or buy media, we know the very best and most reputable buyers/planners in the business.

A commonly misunderstood element of the DR business: buyers don’t just buy media; they buy it at the most efficient price point for that week. Media time is sold like a commodity; prices vary from week to week, and availability changes as well. It’s purchased at a strong discount to standard advertising, and requires experts to be sure you are getting the very best price for every week you are on.

Once your commercial airs, you are officially in testing mode, and this phase does more than simply “sell product.” It gauges the strength of the commercial itself, interest in your product, your price point, but just as important, which TV stations or cable networks your product performs best.  Based on your level of success, we will either go back and re-work the commercial or test other stations to find the right fit.  The roll out phase will be a constant engagement with you and your media team to continue to invest in the levels of media, which perform best for your product.

We will help you hand pick the best fit for your product, in both the short-form or long-form formats.

Call Center

Call centers are critical to this process because this is how you track your commercial’s performance as well as become the voice for your brand. They can make or break each sale.  Each network you air on has a different 800 number and by seeing which numbers were called, we can track which programming your commercial generates the most sales with the most efficient media expense.

When it comes to choosing a call center there are really two options:

The first choice is to have live operators pick up the phone when potential buyers call in. This gives you the benefit of being able to listen to the call and learn what customers are saying about your product and what questions they have. Since these operators may be the only touch point for your brand with customers, it is critical to have them carefully scripted and trained to talk to and sell your product.

The second option is IVR (computer operated order taking). This less expensive choice is a fully automated process and walks the buyer through with computer prompted questions.

We will work closely with you to choose the right company and the right fit for your situation.


More than 50% of direct response sales occur on the web, and you simply can not leave your website to an amateur. If you want to move your product, things like good design are just the beginning. True use-ability, high conversion rates, primary analytics, and bounce rates are real elements that effect sales and separate you from your competition.

Search Engine Optimization/Organic/Paid Search

The facts are clear: well over 50% of the people who see your commercial on TV will not call in, but visit your website. What happens when they don’t remember your exact domain name? They will search for you and you need to be ready. A strategy, combining search engine optimization, keyword research to optimize both organic and paid search are the most cost effective methods of achieving that goal.

Search engine traffic is the #1 referrer of new online customers, and 55% percent of all Internet purchases start with a customer clicking on a search listing. A well planned strategy can deliver highly targeted visitors to your website.

Merchant Bank

A simple decision, you need a merchant bank to take credit card orders, on the phone and on the web. You will need a merchant back as well as a web gateway system for orders. We can assist you with this element quickly and easily.

Order Fulfillment

The process continues when the call center or website sends the order to the fulfillment company and they fill the order by packing and shipping your product to the buyer. But fulfillment companies do far more than apply labels. They are always looking for the least expensive way to ship, deal with returns, and handle warehousing.

Fees vary depending on services and need and we will connect you with the company right for you.


This is a very simple equation. Getting to retail is the key to being truly profitable. Selling direct to consumers via TV and web creates buzz and an income stream, but nearly 80% of your sales can be generated on the retail shelf. Through our strong relationships, we can help get you there.

Final Note

Nothing succeeds without a solid plan. We can create a commercial and get it on the air, but a well-thought out process, from brand strategy, packaging, media and back end integration, can mean the difference between success and failure. We are happy to help on any level along the journey.

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