Pitchmen – Can eCommerce Merchants learn from BILLY MAYS and Anthony Sullivan ?

Billy Mays Here….

Anthony Sullivan for….

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

Pitchmen – is the new Discovery channel TV series about the art of the “pitch” and for many reasons, I find it fascinating.

This TV series is an inside look into the 2 minute infomercial concept “As Seen on TV” and two of the top personalities that make the all important and insidious television “pitch” on a daily basis to America.

Both of the primary characters of the series, Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan, have become multi-millionaires without so much as a college degree between them.  They each own production companies, work for multi-million dollar corporations and, if you are lucky, and if they choose to bring your invention to the television airwaves, these men may possibly be making a millionaire out of you to.

Salesmanship still rules!

Billy Mays Sells

Billy Mays Sells

What can be learned from watching a show about two men and how they sell America various products we usually would not buy on the spur of the moment?

Oh, so much… if you take the time to absorb the various tidbits made available within a show which obviously is not intended to be a primer for salesmanship. Yet, I think you may find at least one tip that could improve your online business possibly helping you to understand what sells and how to sell it.

The show follows a format, as most television shows of this type do.  First the audience is shown various examples of the completely off the wall, odd or bizarre inventions which are brought to pitchmen like Anthony and Billy on a daily basis.

From these bizarre contraptions the television audience are given a brief opportunity to ponder which one will be tested further to see it it will have a chance to make it to airwaves as a 2 minute infomercial ad spot.

The choice is not always easy.  The sampling on the television series gives us just a small glimpse into the incredible amount of work that must go into finding the products that these two pitchmen have sold millions of units of, on a consistent basis.

How do these Pitchmen select the next big seller?

  • It must be something which fills a need – solves a problem
  • It must be easily explained or “gotten” by the audience
  • It must have some sort of “Wow” demo – An amazing proof moment on TV that the product works
  • It must meet strict pricing criteria – basically no more than $19.99 per unit, with room to reduce that to $9.99 hopefully

If these conditions do not exist for the Pitchmen, they will not invest their time to even think about testing the product, much less producing a television spot.

Lesson learned?

Anthony Sullivan

Anthony Sullivan

The pitchmen of America know their “audience” and what it takes to get people to make an instant impulse decision to pick up the phone and buy something presented on the television, basically sight unseen.

People will not part with a certain level of funds quickly, apparently that psychological barrier is $19.99.

The pitchmen know that they must prove to their “audience” in some very convincing way, that the product is real and that it works as advertised – thus the “Wow” demo.

The limited time factor of a two minute ad spot drives the need for the product to be easily explained and “gotten” by the audience.

Anthony and Billy are well aware that people do not buy things they do not need, they must understand the problem a product solves and want to have the ability to solve that problem themselves… If they have this desire, they will buy the product immediately.

Apply these lessons to your online business and test to see if your sales increase.  In our world, we have much less than 2 Minutes to get our point across, if the product is not easily understood, fills a need, and fails the psychological price barrier of your “audience” your chances of making a sale in the 3 – 15 second time frame an internet surfer will stay on your product listing are nil.

Television is a mature advertising medium, yet in television changes are made regularily to refine the process and sell more, in less time.  Internet marketers and merchants can learn a lot from Television and even print advertising methods, copywriting and … well, the pitch.

After all we are a very young medium and would do well to look at what the experts of other industries have done to improve the presentation of products and maximise the return for advertising dollars.

Billy Mays may yell louder than you like and Anthony Sullivan may not be a household name, but we can learn from the many years of experience of these two pitchmen.

Refining your selection of products to sell, knowing the magic price point number of your audience, explaining the product in a way that takes no effort for the buyer to understand and showing the problem the product solves immediately and demonstrably… are all key to improving your bottom line.

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2 Responses to Pitchmen – Can eCommerce Merchants learn from BILLY MAYS and Anthony Sullivan ?

  1. Mark Simon June 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    Great post, I’ve started recording the pitchmen show myself to gain more insights. An excellent step for online retailers is to take at least the first 3 criteria the pitchmen look at and put that on your main pages (home, category, product).

    Another good tip is for etailers to try and determine the psychological price barrier for their site through testing.

  2. Billy mays died June 28, 2009 at 10:14 pm #

    I can’t believe billy died. His legacy will not be forgotten for being the best pitchman ever.

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