July 24, 2007

The Divine Seven

Update: The results are in! My success rate using the D7 to pick winners is one in three, while the industry average is one in eight. Seems the criteria really work. See my April 7, 2008 post for more.

How important is marketing to the success of a DRTV product? The answer is “very important” – but only if you start out with a product that’s right for the DRTV market.

The best marketing in the world isn’t going to sell a product that lacks inherent appeal to DRTV buyers. That means DRTV marketers need to use very specific criteria when deciding which new product ideas they will spend time, money and resources bringing to market.

During my career, I’ve compiled a master list of 14 of these criteria. Of these, I believe seven are so critical to the success of any DRTV product that I call them the “The Divine Seven.” In my opinion, the odds of having a hit DRTV campaign are highest when your product is:

  1. UNIQUE. Simply put, it must be different and new. That means it must be something most people haven’t seen it before, or something most people think they haven’t seen it before.
  2. MASS MARKET. It must appeal to a large enough market. Niche products seldom succeed.
  3. PROBLEM SOLVING. It has to solve a perceived problem that doesn’t already have a good-enough solution. Aspirational products just don’t play on DRTV.
  4. PRICED RIGHT. It should be $20 or less. Since DRTV purchases are impulse purchases, it’s very hard to make anything priced above $20 work. The price should also meet or exceed the perceived value of the product. DRTV buyers demand a bargain.
  5. EASILY EXPLAINED. People need to be able to understand what it does quickly. The best way to accomplish this is to select products that are simple and highly demonstrable.
  6. AGE APPROPRIATE. It should appeal to people over the age of 50, or at least not exclude this group. That’s because the typical DRTV buyer is 50+.
  7. CREDIBLE. People must believe it works as advertised. Many DRTV items that meet the previous six criteria fail here because the promise they make just isn’t believable.
I remember these criteria with the following sentence: "A successful DRTV product is a UNIQUE, MASS MARKET PROBLEM SOLVER that’s PRICED RIGHT, EASILY EXPLAINED, AGE APPROPRIATE and CREDIBLE."

The middle five are the most critical. That's because they're also the most objective. Whether a product is unique enough or credible enough for DRTV viewers is a matter of opinion (before the results come in). On the other hand, objective research can determine that a product is niche instead of mass market, and history has shown that such products are highly unlikely to succeed on DRTV. In fact, I'll go on record and say a product that misses in any one of the middle five categories is highly unlikely to succeed.

Since January of this year, I’ve been keeping track of how new items from the IMS and Jordan Whitney reports stack up against these criteria. My goal is to evaluate 100 DRTV products before I know whether they are hits, and then see how my criteria hold up. Will items that meet all seven criteria become hits as expected? Or will items that defy my criteria become hits, and cause me to re-evaluate how I screen products? Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ll be adding a “D7 Score” to each product I cover in my New Items report. Once I reach 100, I’ll share the results.

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