Infomercials and Presentations

The other day after days of struggling through an illness I finally gave in and stayed in bed most of the day. I usually go years without instances like these, in fact I did not miss a day in high school due to illness. As the years have passed and now I have my own children, who seemingly have brought every conceivable germ home from school known to man this year, I could go no more. Fortunately or unfortunately my marketing mind doesn’t sleep or succumb to illness, please don’t tell the kids they will work up one for that also. Boy or boy daytime television is jamb packed with marketing everything from insurance, wheel chairs to walk in bath tubs. Pretty well defined target audience I would say.

The part that we can learn from as marketers is the “how” not so much the “what” in the experience. Number one is the audience, they are in fact preaching to the masses of daytime television, retired or semi-retired Americans. Notice the use of power words over and over again in 30 seconds or even 2 minute commercials. The use of the words: free, no additional cost, easy, simple just one call, etc. These are just a few but boy do they create the urgency to buy. Even the use of symbolism, you can often see the American flag waving in the background, an eagle flying by, even the color schemes tend toward the ole’ red, white and blue.

Now let’s look at this from a whole marketing campaign. These companies did not start with television spots, they started quite likely with the telephone and if you notice the give a number to call not a web site to this generation. So I wonder after testing probably 20 – 30 phone scripts both opening and closing and settling on the ones that worked, I’ll bet almost 90% of those scripts are in those infomercials. Point is folks it all starts with a strong foundation and once you have that you can go wherever you want to advertise. But even after that and the success and the television ad campaign you still are directing the people to use the phone. The phone is where it all starts and ends in the marketing business.

Let’s look at the presentation part of the infomercial. If we were doing a phone presentation we would be looking at, at least 20 minutes of presentation time. With these ads we see a precise condensed version with two items always present on the screen. You guessed it the name and number to call. You see the company name and there number for the entire length of the infomercial, whether that is 30 seconds or two minutes. Additionally, there is little to no fluff, they get right to the product within ten seconds, then spend about 30% of the remaining time telling you about the product and finally pile on the testimonials.

It’s truly an art to watch and learn from these marketing giants. The great part is that as we hone our craft we can continue to grow and if we so desire in a few years be the next generation of infomercials or in time most likely something even more eye catching. Hope to see you there.

Have Your Audience Sit Up, Take Notice, and Learn at Your Next Presentation

Some presentations are designed to simply motivate your audience. Some are designed to educate them. It’s this second batch that is tricky to do. It’s probably not that your presentations are lacking in educational material, but rather it’s the way that you are delivering it that really matters. You need to find a way to deliver the information in the way that adults learn…

So here’s the answer to this question right off the bat: research shows that adults learn best when information is presented interactively, using role-playing, and peer-to-peer dialog. The lectures that most presenters use are really only good for passing information along to an audience.

The last thing in the world that you want is for your next presentation to remind your audience of a high school or college class. Having you stand at the front of the room and drone on with no chance for interaction is not what today’s audiences are looking for.

The secret to making your presentation “stick” with your audience is to realize that the more active your adult audience is during your presentation, the more they will learn because they will be tapping into the knowledge and experience of their peers.

At different times during your presentation your role as the presenter should really be to be a “guide on a side” who facilitates discussions among audience members and offering feedback as needed.

We’ve all heard about left-brain / right-brain stuff. Our left-brain is set up for the way most presentations are delivered – logical, analytical, and subjective. It’s our right-brain, our visual & creative side, that is not being fed during most presentations.

Much of what it takes to make sure that a presentation appeals to how your adult audience learns has to do with how the presentation event is set up. Here are some key suggestions on how you can make your next presentation a powerful adult learning experience:

  • Use Round Tables: having your audience sit at round (or half round) tables that seat 8 or 10 people helps your audience to interact easily.
  • Schedule Break Time: make sure that your audience has time both before and after your presentation to meet and discuss what they are going to learn and what they have learned.  
  • Use Comfortable Seats: Rarely do we have control over this, but if possible the more comfortable the seats are, the more learning will happen.
  • Lose The Lectern: This can be done as simply as making sure that you have a wireless microphone so that you are not tied to one spot and can move around and interact with your audience.
  • Handouts & Downloads Are Good: You audience is hungry for information that they can take back to the office. Giving them something that they can touch and hold is one way to do this.
  • More Brian Food: This is my favorite. Most food that is served during a presentation can be sugar or carb-heavy. If possible, provide healthful food options.

At the end of the day, you go to a lot of effort to get ready to deliver a presentation. You want your audience to be impacted by your words and you want them to be able to absorb and learn from the information that you are presenting. If you follow these tips, your audience will have a better chance of learning and retaining what you have to say.

Script Your Sales Presentation

I can’t say that I watch a lot of professional sports, but in the fall I have been known to take a Sunday afternoon and watch the Green Bay Packers play some football. In the late 90′s when they were winning a lot of games, commentators used to make a big deal about how the Packers would script out the first 15 plays of the game, and practice those over and over again. They felt the confidence it gave the team resulted in early success and set the tone for the rest of the game.

Scripting out your sales presentation can be hugely beneficial. Too many people see scripting as mechanical and rigid. If you’ve ever seen a good production of a Shakespeare play, you know that’s not true. Even though the actors are following a script, they’ve learned it so well that they’ve really made it their own. The script acts as a vehicle which allows them to express the emotions and ideas much more clearly and forcefully.

There are a few key places where scripting can really help in the sales process. By deciding what to say beforehand, and practicing (possibly even memorizing) it over and over, you are much more natural because you’ve made the words your own and can really put feeling and emphasis into what you are saying. By writing out just the first few sentences of the following sections, you will see a big jump in your confidence and your results

1. Script the very beginning of the presentation. There are many sales people who just show up to meet a customer without thinking about how they are going to start the conversation. You don’t want to hem and haw at the beginning of the sales call; this is when you want to focus on building rapport and creating a strong first impression. Know what questions you want to ask the customer right out of the gate and what information you want them to know from the beginning.

2. Script any major value propositions. If there is something that really makes your product stand out, don’t wing it. Make sure you have a solid delivery of this core material.

3. Script your close. The statements and questions you use when you close your sales should be clear, consistent, and confident. When you lack confidence in how you are asking, it is often perceived as a lack of confidence in what you are asking. Don’t let your clients misinterpret your stumbling for the right word for an inability to have confidence in your products and services. Another benefit of scripting certain parts of the sales presentation is that it allows you to be consistent. This consistency allows you to test, measure, and improve your results over time.

Just like a surgeon has a set method for performing open-heart surgery, you want to know exactly how your sales presentations will go. Obviously, because of the inherent nature of human interactions, it won’t go exactly as you script it (unfortunately you can’t script what the customer will say). You will find, though, that the process on your end becomes more fluid, more relaxed, more successful, and ultimately, a lot more fun.