10 Things A Writer Can Do For You
Reprinted from Response Magazine
Most people think that an infomercial writer’s job is to write up a script.
Actually, that’s both right and wrong.
Certainly, a writer is the person charged with creating a script, the blueprint for your DRTV spot or infomercial. But before he does that, there’s actually a whole list of things a good writer can—and should—do for you. Let’s take a look at ten different areas where an experienced DRTV wordmaster can really make a difference:
1) Is it to be, or not to be?
Every marketer loves his new product. And he should, because that passion is sometimes the only thing he has going for him as he travels the gauntlet of obstacles standing between him and the marketplace. Loving your product is great. But sometimes, we love too much.
You can be too close to your product, too much enamored with its features, and blind to the cold light of reality. You may be overlooking a pricing issue, a design flaw, competitive situations or other factors that the consumer won’t.
An experienced writer can give you that all-important outsider’s perspective, helping you to come back to reality about your product’s salability. It takes guts for a writer to put the brakes on a project, but good ones do it all the time. They have enough offers that they can pick only the ones with real potential.
2) Identify the heart of your sales message
On your yellow pad, you’ve identified 6 major uses, 14 main benefits, a dozen new features and more to talk about in your product. But how do you boil it all down into one memorable sentence? More than anything, this is why you’ve come to a writer in the first place, to help you say in words what you know in your heart. Disciplined TV writers can be as good as headline writers at summing your message up into one single line. Make sure he does it.
3) Bring in new sales tools and techniques
You’re an expert in your industry. A good DRTV writer has experience in many. During my 25 years in advertising, I’ve sold weight loss, magazine subscriptions, health care, entertainment, you name it. I’ve learned from the best in each of those different businesses, and picked up ideas and approaches that often transplant exceedingly well to other kinds of products. Experienced DRTV veterans have a whole repertoire of ideas for free samples, attention-getters, objection-overcomers and other selling devices that may just apply to your product and show in a new and powerful way.
4) Help you restructure your offer for better self storage marketing results
In a retail store, your product might be offered in a variety of prices, styles, sizes and configurations. But what do you offer in your TV? Again, experience can make a huge difference here. Your DRTV writer can help you decide on the most appealing way to present your wares. He can help you decide whether to keep it simple or complex, make the offer build or hammer home on one vital component, figure out bonus items, upsells, downsells and future line extensions. It’s an art, not a science, where instincts and experience rule.
5) Help you set the right price point
What’s the best price to try? $19.95? $49.95? Two payments of 19.95? A good writer knows his way around an Excel spreadsheet as well as his word processor. He can show you how to develop a unit cost analysis and pro-formas that help you zero in on those price points likely to maximize your DRTV profits.
7) Design a show that’s easy to change
In a traditional ad agency, you think in finite terms. The client sets a budget, the creative guys lock down a script, the commercial is made and they roll out their ad program. They roll it out, regardless of how it works (if they are even able to measure how it works.
But DRTV is different. It’s a much more fluid medium, where changes are the order of the day.
In DRTV, your media plan and even the infomercial itself, is subject to constant measurement, change, revision and improvement. You know how you’re doing on a daily basis, and you’re always looking for ways to tweak and improve your results.
Even the most successful commercial goes through six or more revisions as the marketer tries different price points, bonus ideas, copy changes and the like in the never-ending quest to wring every last dollar out of the campaign. Modern video editing technology makes these changes possible.
An experienced DRTV writer knows this. So in writing the script, he designs a show that can easily be changed to accommodate the variations and changes that will probably come. He builds in voice over, modular and interchangeable scenes, supers and more so that you can make the changes you’ll need, without hacking the show to pieces or breaking your budget.
8) Steer you clear of hidden legal hassles
When you run your DRTV spot or infomercial, you want calls. But there is one telephone call you don’t want to get: a call from the FTC. The last thing you want is to be hit with a challenge from the Federal Trade Commission, a state attorney general, or even from one of your competitors, accusing you of misleading the consumer with unfounded product claims or unfair competition. All of your mighty profit dollars can suddenly be drained off into legal fees, penalties, or even worse.
A good DRTV writer knows not only what to say in your show, but what not to. He has the experience to understand that by using the DRTV medium, your product will come under more scrutiny than ever, and that every single claim must be substantiated. It doesn’t matter what your competitors say, what you’ve said for years in sales calls, or what theoretical evidence you think you can assemble. Right from the start, a good DRTV writer can help you stay honest in your show, eventually saving you tens of thousands of dollars later on.
9) Lead you to a good producer, media buyer and other key players
Experienced DRTV writers have been around. They know the media buyers, the fulfillment houses, the telemarketers and other players in the industry, and are usually more than happy to make helpful recommendations. After all, your writer has a stake in your program’s success. He wants you to hook up with the people and companies who can make it all it can be. With an experienced writer on your side, you may find that you are able to quickly put together a “virtual marketing company” of key players that can rival the effectiveness of even the largest DRTV marketer.
10) Revise, revise, revise
Finally, a good writer can be with you for the long haul. He can be around for the endless changes, adjustments and revisions your message will need as it winds its way through the production process. It’s not uncommon for a script to go through six or more major revisions before a camera is ever turned on. Right on the set, there are often dialogue changes and ad-libs that add vitality to your message. Then in post production, there are often editing changes and additions to shore up points that somehow need strengthening. In the end, you find that your script is like a living document that requires so many adjustments that, like your marketing program itself, it is never really finished.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to writing than simply typing. DRTV is a tricky business. But you can certainly improve your odds by going with a scriptwriter who has the experience, dedication and passion that your product needs. Experience and ability are the qualities that make your scriptwriter the key player he is in your DRTV team.