Infomercial extends eyeQ product lifecycle

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Conventional wisdom once said that a 30-minute infomercial could be a great vehicle for selling a direct response product, but only for a limited amount of time. You had to strike while the product was hot and then move on to the next product. Most direct marketers assumed that a successful campaign had about 12 months to make all the money it was going to make.

Now, there is a new trend-infomercial campaigns that stay on-air longer than a year, and continue to generate profits. Infomercials for products such as Proactive, the George Foreman Grill and Bowflex are continuing examples of long-running, successful infomercial campaigns.

These campaigns are successful because they have a strategic plan, which is also the case with another long-running successful program, eyeQ, a speed-reading and comprehension program by Infinite Mind, a Salt Lake City-based company.

Launched in May 2002, the first challenge to market eyeQ on television was to move consumers past the $200 selling price. With actress Pam Dawber as the host, we tested three different offers. Offer 1 disclosed the full price. Offer 2 was a straight lead-generation offer with no stated price. And offer 3 advertised a $14.95 trial with no mention of the total price.

The third offer drew the largest response. The affordable trial offer gave consumers an inexpensive, yet concrete reason to pick up the telephone and order the product. This then allowed us to experiment with different price options.

By planning ahead, we successfully extended the life of eyeQ. We knew that even though the original infomercial was performing strongly, the message would eventually tire. At the 14-month mark, we began production on version 2. So by the time sales began to drop, we were ready and launched the version in January 2004.

Tweak here, tweak there

The key to infomercial sequels is to change the wrapper more than the content, so there were only minor differences between the two infomercials.

The first infomercial told the story of how Jeffrey Flamm, the president of Infinite Mind, discovered the program; how Pam Dawber came on board after it boosted her son's reading speed and comprehension; how easy it was; and the dramatic improvements users achieved. It also stressed the phenomenon of eyeQ, and how unique the program was.

The sequel had the same message, but put more emphasis on people's experience with it.

Like the first show, the second performed well for a year. Again, we planned ahead and had a third version in production before the numbers started to drop. Version 3 of the eyeQ infomercial, hosted by Pat Murphy-Stark, began airing in August 2005. This latest version focused more on how faster reading was making a difference in people's lives.

The results are impressive. Since launching eyeQ in 2002, Infinite Mind has generated annual sales of more than $25 million. The company expects to pass the $50 million mark within the year. Infinite Mind and eyeQ is a story that illustrates how to successfully extend the product lifecycle with an infomercial campaign.

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